Capital plan needs a close look

Published 10:17 pm Monday, February 18, 2013

To the editor:

There will be a public hearing on the city’s proposed capital improvements plan on Wednesday during the regular City Council meeting. This is our chance to have a say in how the City of Suffolk is spending our tax dollars.

One project on this list that likely needs to be jettisoned is the Suffolk Seaboard Trail.

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This is a proposed 11-mile hiking/biking trail following the path of the former railway line. While it sounds like a good idea, this project requires the city to put up $190,000 in order to get a $747,000 grant from Virginia Department of Transportation. Yes, the same VDOT that is having trouble filling potholes and repairing roads throughout the state is looking to send $747,000 to pave over an old railroad line.

And don’t forget — this project would add $25,000 to the city’s budget each year for upkeep and maintenance to the trail. Is this really a good use of both state and city funds in today’s economy?

Another potential money drain is the slated Bennett’s Creek Recreation Center. The city will acquire the Armory Building on Bennett’s Creek Park Road in a land swap with the Army. Officials want to dump $1.5 million into the building to convert it into a recreation center, which would add close to half a million dollars to the city budget every year in staffing, upkeep and maintenance. We all know that amount will only increase each year.

What’s worse, this proposed rec center is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from a current rec center! Creekside Rec Center, located in Creekside Elementary, is right on the corner of Bennett’s Creek Park Road.

So, just to get this straight, we have firefighters and police officers who haven’t seen a decent raise in years. We’ve got teachers who also haven’t had a decent raise, and a school system that is currently rationing paper and other supplies. But let’s dump $1.5 million this year and add half a million to the budget yearly for a rec center that will be located right down the road from a current rec center.

That would be a brilliant use of taxpayer dollars, wouldn’t it?

These items represent just the start of the capital improvements plan. Read through the plan yourself. It’s available on the city website. Then go to City Council and tell them what you think.

Lorraine Yuriar