Public lauds capital plan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Stay the course.&uot;

That was the message most speakers sent to city lawmakers during Wednesday’s public hearing on the city’s proposed $28 million 2005-06 capital improvements budget.

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Nearly half of the budget – $12.3 million – would be used to finish building Creekside Elementary School, an 800-student school on Shoulders Hill Road slated to open in September 2006.

The plans also includes funding for a number of projects designed to enhance the ongoing downtown revitalization:

*$1.5 million for the renovation of the East Suffolk Recreation Center;

*$1 million to extend Prentis Street, from Pine Street to Pitchkettle Road;

*$1.1 million to build a connector road between Finney Avenue and Clay Street;

*$1.2 million to proceed with the Fairgrounds housing plan.

&uot;Please stay the course,&uot; said downtown developer and resident Mickey Garcia. &uot;This plan has gotten us to where we are today. The plan is working; let’s stick to it.&uot;

Suffolk resident Peter Pruden, a member of the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts, agreed.

&uot;The rehabilitation of Suffolk High School has begun,&uot; he said. &uot;It is on target and on


&uot;Arts for citizens of all ages soon will have a chance to thrive…The center will also bring new jobs, improve traffic flow

and increase the tax base.&uot;

Former Mayor George Barnett also supported the proposed capital plan, saying it would benefit the entire city.

&uot;If adopted as presented, it will offer something for everyone,&uot; he said. &uot;There are projects for all people and all areas of the city.&uot;

Not every speaker shared Barnett’s sentiment.

Too much of the city’s resources are earmarked for use in downtown, said Bennetts Creek resident Leroy Schmidt.

&uot;People from northern Suffolk are not coming here,&uot;

Schmidt said. &uot;We don’t have anything in Mrs. Johnson’s borough. We’d like to pull out (of the city) but ya’ll can’t make it without our revenue.&uot;

The city is proposing to borrow $18 million to help fund the capital projects. Despite assurances that the action would not necessitate a tax increase, Whaleyville resident Roger Leonard urged council members to look further into the funding mechanism.

&uot;Take a look at the spending proposal…and where the money is coming from,&uot; said Leonard. &uot;…It is a reasonable assumption that we will see spectacular growth in our assessments this year.&uot;

Freddie Wiggins, spokesman for the Suffolk Substitute Teachers Association, urged the council to fully fund the capital projects proposed by Suffolk Public Schools.