Planners approve capital plan

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New City Hall: The Suffolk Planning Commission has given its nod to a proposal to spend about $22.7 million next year on a new City Hall building to replace the current one, which city officials say is aging and dangerous.

The Planning Commission gave its stamp of approval to a $724 million, 10-year capital improvements plan during its meeting Wednesday.

The document now goes to City Council for consideration during today’s meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled on the plan for a February council meeting.

The capital improvements plan is a growth management and financial planning tool, director of Budget and Strategic Planning Anne Seward said on Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

The first year of the final approved plan will be included in the budget proposal City Council members will see in April. It currently includes about $85 million next year for a new city hall, water and sewer improvements and preliminary costs for a new elementary school.

In all, school buildings and public buildings and facilities take up the majority of the money in the plan — 33 and 29 percent, respectively. The remainder is earmarked for transportation (20 percent), public safety (12 percent), village and neighborhood improvements (4 percent) and parks and recreation (2 percent).

Planning Commissioner William Goodman wanted more money to be spent in village improvements, he said.

“We did take special effort to come up with this village concept,” Goodman said.

The only village and neighborhood improvements proposed are the completion of a sidewalk in Chuckatuck and drainage projects in Orlando, Saratoga and Boston. Goodman inquired about projects in Holland and Whaleyville.

“We have been in these villages doing projects there,” Planning Director Scott Mills said.

“We didn’t leave anything incomplete,” added Bob Goumas, comprehensive planning manager for the planning department.

In the first year of the outline, the new city hall is the big-ticket item. The building is anticipated to cost about $22.7 million.

About $32 million worth of water and sewer improvements, including water source development, also are scheduled for fiscal year 2012.

Also in the first year, the city plans to set aside $1.5 million for site acquisition and engineering for a new elementary school to serve the Holland and Whaleyville communities. The remainder of the construction cost, $16 million, is planned for fiscal year 2013.

Also scheduled for the first year are intersection construction, fire truck purchases and a city software replacement.

In the second year, the plan includes $14.7 million for replacement of the city’s E911 system, which is under state mandate to be upgraded.

Future plans include $25 million for a new middle school in the fourth year of the plan and design costs for a Nansemond Parkway public safety center in the fifth year.

City Council will hear about the plan during its 4 p.m. work session today at 441 Market St.