Riders in BT Bus during Warsaw Ride Along - 9-30-2020

Inside of the Bay Transit bus as it prepared to go on the Main Street Ride Along.

Last week, Bay Aging and the Warsaw-Richmond County Chamber of Commerce (WRCCOC) took a small group of community leaders on a Bay Transit bus for a guided tour of community development throughout the Town of Warsaw.  The Main Street “Ride Along” participants included Warsaw Town Councilman Ralph Self, Warsaw Mayor Randall Phelps, Old Rapp Taphouse owner Andy Beale, Richmond County Administrator Morgan Quicke, Warsaw Town Manager Joseph Quesenberry, Town of Warsaw Community Development Specialist  Melissa Coates, WRCCOC President Sara Carroll, Richmond County Board Supervisor David Parr, Bay Aging Vice President of Development & Marketing Michael Norvell and Bay Transit bus driver Cynthia Brown.

The bus ride showcased the safety protocols that Bay Transit has implemented in response to COVID-19 and much of the robust economic development that has resulted from the town’s partnership with Richmond County, the State of Virginia and a myriad of private investors in the past year. 

Warsaw Mayor Randall Phelps, noting how much development has taken place recently, said, “The county has been an outstanding partner assisting us in looking at resources, assets and projects and a couple of large grants are still pending.  It’s been a busy time for the town and the county.”  Indeed, several members of the group, including Richmond County Administrator Morgan Quicke, later participated in the virtual ribbon cutting ceremony for the Richmond County Family YMCA’s new “Fitnasium” that same evening.

“The Richmond County Family YMCA’s new ‘Fitnasium’ construction went really quickly. It is great to have this new facility available. The YMCA has been in the County for around twenty years and it’s wonderful to have them here providing these services to the community,” Quicke said.  “Additionally, we have two more projects that are in the works as far as recreation and economic development go. At the Commerce and Community Park areas, we are planning to construct a series of bicycle and walking trails throughout Commerce Park connecting to the revitalized Main Street Corridor.”

Andy Beale, owner of the Old Rappahannock Taphouse, elaborated on his involvement with the Main Street Redevelopment initiative. “We acquired the property, from 124 to 132 Main Street, in January of 2019 and immediately started gutting the interior,” Beale said. “Northern Neck Popcorn Bag moved in last September and Burkes Fine Jewelers followed in October. Of course, we opened Old Rapp Taphouse and Angie Sanders Strength & Style Boutique, now located in the Willow Stitch building, will be opening here in November. We will be utilizing about 20,000 square feet of space now.”

Warsaw Town Manager Joseph Quesenberry also had lots of news to share announcing the recent sale of Warsaw Village, a 60,100 square foot community shopping center, to Broad Reach Retail Partners. The shopping center is 81% leased and includes a tenant roster of Food Lion, Walgreens, VA ABC, and US Renal Care. Quesenberry added, “Dollar Tree has been open for about one month in a spot that had been vacant for nearly twenty years. The new Dairy Queen, whose ownership is local, is doing a booming business and anticipates sales of $2.5 million annually. We have 48 new apartments opening soon that will be work force housing, new tennis courts on the RCC campus and the new 12,500 square foot Ace Hardware, which is also locally owned, is coming online next. And, we are working to expand Menokin’s kayak rental and tour service to include kayak tours down the Rappahannock from Fones Cliffs and down Cat Point Creek where people can come to Warsaw afterwards for an ice cream at Bubba B’s or a beer at the Old Rapp Taphouse.”

Bay Transit’s “Good to go!” promotional campaign is also paying dividends. Bay Transit invested in about $400 worth of safety equipment per bus including equipping each of their 47 buses with plexiglass partitions between each passenger seat and around the drivers. “Raising awareness about all the steps we’ve taken to keep our passengers and drivers safe is paying off,” said Bay Transit’s Director, Ken Pollock. “Our ridership has increased in four of the last five months, including by 12% in September. We’re trending back toward pre-COVID-19 ridership levels. Clearly, for Bay Transit, the Warsaw-Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Warsaw and Richmond County, we’re all ‘Good to go!’”      

 For more information about Bay Transit, visit www.baytransit.org or call the Ride Line at 877-869-6046.