Council hears capital plan

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, February 5, 2014

City Council members on Wednesday praised a capital improvements plan that addresses quality-of-life issues in the entire city while pulling back on spending from prior years, they said.

The plan, updated annually, lays out spending priorities for the next 10 years and how to pay for them. The first year of the plan will be part of the city manager’s budget proposal in the spring.

“Everything I heard addresses quality of life,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said after the presentation in the council work session. “I think this is a great plan, and it includes the entire city.”

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Johnson also said she was pleased the amount of the plan is reduced from previous years. The full 10-year plan, at $694 million, is a 7-percent reduction from last year, while the first five years constitute a 15-percent decrease from last year.

The first year of the plan includes about $60 million in improvements.

The most expensive item in the first year of the plan is $18 million for a Public Works operations and maintenance facility on Carolina Road. It would replace the current facility nearby, where staff work out of trailers.

Also planned in the first year is $10 million to put toward the Holland Road widening project. More funding is planned in subsequent years, with about half of the funding anticipated from the state revenue sharing program, Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said.

In addition, $2 million is planned for the purchase of about 60 acres of land in the Shoulders Hill Road area for a combined elementary and middle school campus. A further $500,000 is set to begin paying for master planning that site. The middle school would open in the fall of 2018, Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said.

Councilman Roger Fawcett said he would not approve the multi-campus plan unless it also included enough room for a future high school.

Another $2 million is set for a study for the new downtown library to investigate the feasibility of having a higher-education component with the library.

Also, $2 million is planned for a Kenyon Road connector that will take some truck traffic off Kenyon Road near the high school and route it through the CenterPoint development.

In addition, $1.5 million is set to transform an old armory building into the Bennett’s Creek Recreation Center on Bennetts Creek Park Road, and $1.3 million will complete the expansion of the police administration building on Henley Place.

Other items set for the first year of the plan include furniture and technology at the Whaleyville Community Center, improvements at the airport, a new aerial ladder truck, an addition at the Lake Kilby fire station, enhancements to Sleepy Hole Park and various trails in the city, and more.

A public hearing on the plan will be held Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St.

The full plan can be viewed at www.suffolkva.us. Click on the 2014-2015 Budget Information button.