Holland water proposed

Published 10:06 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2011

City staff on Tuesday recommended extending city water service to Holland and converting the old Robertson Elementary School in Whaleyville into a community center next year.

The projects are part of the city’s capital improvements plan, which was presented at the Planning Commission meeting.

The first year of the plan features about $52.7 million in projects, including the Holland water extension and conversion of the old elementary school; improvements to the Planters Club; renovations at Sleepy Hole Park; security improvements at the airport, courthouse and downtown police precinct; a new southern elementary school; and more.

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The capital improvements plan outlines all the projects the city expects to need in the next 10 years and how it expects to pay for them. The city manager proposes the plan, which is reviewed by a subcommittee before it is presented to the full Planning Commission.

The commission will vote on the plan at its December meeting, then forward it to City Council for a public hearing.

The full 10-year document includes more than $705 million worth of projects. That’s about a 2.6-percent decrease from last year and doesn’t include utility projects, which are in a separate fund.

Anne Seward, Budget and Strategic Planning director for the city, said it maintains compliance with the city’s debt capacity and financial policies.

Transportation and public school projects make up the largest pieces of the non-utility plan, consisting of about 40 and 30 percent, respectively. The remaining components — public buildings and facilities, public safety, parks and recreation and village and neighborhood initiatives — make up 30 percent combined.

Big-ticket items in the next five years include $15 million for a new operations center for public works road maintenance, refuse, stormwater and fleet fueling facilities; $13.1 million to replace the 911 system, including all obsolete communications equipment, radio systems and the communications tower; an additional $10 million for the new 700-pupil southern elementary school to serve Holland and Whaleyville; and $4.3 million for fire and rescue equipment including engines, ambulances and an aerial platform truck.

A new middle school and northern elementary school also are set in the plan for 2016 and beyond.

The city hopes to pay for the projects in the next five years by using debt, local cash and funding from state and federal sources. Nearly one-third will be paid for using debt.

Public Utilities Director Al Moor said the water extension to Holland is needed immediately because of continued problems with high fluoride levels in the well system there. That project and other utility improvements planned for next year will cost $10 million.