Schools, drainage in capital plan

Published 6:26 pm Saturday, December 19, 2015

The former Southwestern Elementary School will be demolished next year if the capital improvements plan presented last week makes it through the city’s budget process intact.

The demolition of the school — including the stabilization of the historic Nansemond County Training School next to it — is among the items on the first year of the plan, which the Planning Commission saw in its Tuesday meeting.

The plan is prepared annually and looks at 10 years of buildings, road improvements, utility projects, recreation facilities, fire engines and other big-ticket items. It also examines how the city plans to pay for them.

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After the City Council approves the plan, the first year becomes part of the budget process.

The first year of the plan includes more than $68 million of spending, including utility, refuse and stormwater projects.

City Capital Programs and Buildings Director Gerry Jones said the 10,000-square-foot Nansemond County Training School building is being considered for an adaptive re-use. The city wants to prevent it from sustaining further damage while plans are under way.

“It’s sustained a lot of damage over the years,” Jones said.

Also in the plan is $1.15 million to address drainage concerns in two North Suffolk neighborhoods. Most of the money will be directed to the Pughsville neighborhood, which experiences serious drainage issues during heavy rain. A drainage study and improvements to address immediate concerns in the Respass Beach area also are proposed.

The remainder of funding to build the two new North Suffolk schools is proposed in the first and second years of the plan.

A $6.5 million transfer station for trash is proposed in the first year of the plan.

A variety of improvements at the Suffolk Executive Airport are planned in the first few years of the plan, including parking lot expansion, taxiway and runway rehabilitation, a storage facility, a covered terminal entrance and a layout plan update.

The purchase of several fire engines, ambulances and a tanker truck are proposed.

About $47.8 million for improvements to Nansemond Parkway and Holland Road is proposed over the next few years, along with $9.7 million to improve several intersections, including Nansemond Parkway and Bennetts Pasture Road; Kings Highway and Godwin Boulevard; Nansemond Parkway and Wilroy Road; Godwin Boulevard the Route 58 off-ramp; and other projects to be determined.

Funding proposed in the first year of the plan also would provide a study for a North Suffolk correct, which would run between Nansemond Parkway and Shoulders Hill Road and bypass two at-grade rail crossings.

Looking at future years of the plan, a $9.8 million school operations facility is proposed for construction in Fiscal Year 2021. It would include warehouse space, the print shop, textbook storage and food services administration.

A fire station on College Drive is proposed for design in Fiscal Year 2021 and construction the following year.

In the second year of the plan, renovations to the Bennett’s Creek Recreation Center, a water access sportsplex and renovations to Sleepy Hole Park, which would include water access and creation of an adventure camp and ropes course, are planned. In 2020 and 2021, the first phase of construction at a planned Driver Park Sports Complex is planned.

The downtown library is proposed for $14.4 million of funding in years three through five of the plan, meaning construction would not be complete until Fiscal Year 2021 at the earliest.

The plan also proposes about $17.3 million worth of public utility projects in the first year.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the plan at its January meeting, which is the third Tuesday. It then will make a recommendation to City Council.