By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
Earl Hall, Vice President for Campus Administration, overlooks the "back 60" acres of campus property from the back porch of Founder's Hall
“This will give us the ability to grow the campus to a sensible size for the sustainable future,” Hall explains. “Otherwise, it would be problematic to develop. Not impossible, but difficult.”
At a sometimes tense Town Council meeting on Tuesday, December 8, both critics and supporters of the annexation spoke out, including former mayor of Purcellville Bill Druhan, who stepped in to support the College’s bid for annexation. Calling the College a “good neighbor,” and its students “good kids who work in our businesses and serve on our rescue squads,” Druhan detailed a rich history that leads back to PHC’s initial application in 2002.
Hall termed the former mayor’s speech a “pleasant surprise,” since he had not asked him to speak. Druhan joined five other residents in voicing support for the annexation, while three residents spoke against the measure. At meeting’s end, the Town Council voted 6-1 to pass the annexation ordinance.
Aerial map of campus, with the newly-annexed 66 acres marked in yellow. Click the map to view a larger version.
The annexation was the end result of seven-and-a-half years of intensive water and land use studies, detailed discussions, and give-and-take negotiations with town planners, said Mr. Hall.
“I believe it took us seven and a half years to reach this goal because we needed to develop a long-term track record as good neighbors,” Hall says. “Because we are situated in Purcellville, we have developed a quality relationship with the town and town staff over the years.”
Standing before the Town Council during its public hearing, Hall recited a list of 30 positive contributions that PHC makes to the Purcellville community, including:
As part of the annexation ordinance, PHC has agreed to fund and construct a municipal well and water system to add into the town’s water supply, and to loop the existing water system, which will allow water to flow freely and improve overall water quality for the side of Purcellville near the College. Currently, the water system creates a dead end near the College, meaning that water has a chance to build up mineral deposits before it is used.
Current PHC campus, viewed from across its additional acreage
"Patrick Henry College is thrilled to be part of the Purcellville community, and this annexation further cements our ties with the town,” says PHC President Dr. Graham Walker. “In future years, Purcellville will be widely known as a premier "college town" -- featuring a classic colonial Virginia campus and enjoying the amenities, activities and cultural events of collegiate life. You know how people think of Charlottesville now? That's how they'll think of Purcellville, on a smaller scale, thirty years from now. Thank you, Purcellville."
Over the next 20 years, PHC plans to continue to develop and grow into a larger campus of up to 1600 students. Bringing the College’s full land holdings into the Town of Purcellville is another important step toward making that goal a reality.