Capital plan revealed

Published 9:11 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Suffolk Planning Commission last week got its first look at the city’s plan for capital spending for the next 10 years.

The Capital Improvements Plan, reviewed and updated annually, identifies the city’s anticipated capital needs over the next 10 years and how it expects to pay for them.

Once approved, the first year of the plan is included in the budget proposal next spring. However, the Planning Commission and City Council must OK the capital improvements plan before it goes through that process.

Email newsletter signup

Though they had questions, members of the Planning Commission were generally complimentary of the plan.

“I think the department heads and the people that are responsible for coming up with these plans are very respectful and mindful of where this money is coming from,” said commissioner John Rector, who was on the subcommittee that reviewed the plan. “It is coming in large part from the citizens, and I think they take that into consideration when they make their plans and I think they’re very cognizant of that. It makes me feel better that they don’t just consider it a wishing hole and a money pot that they can just reach into and grab and do whatever they want.

“I think they’re taking the best interests of the city and the citizens and our needs at heart and are doing their best to try to plan accordingly.”

The 10-year plan totals $888.7 million. The first five years of the plan contain $333 million worth of projects.

In the first five years, about 42 percent of the funding will come from sources other than city taxpayers — for example, state and federal money.

The first year of the plan contains more than $70 million worth of projects in city departments as well as water and sewer needs.

More than $14 million of that is the last phase of funding for the two new schools already under construction in North Suffolk.

The first year of the plan also contains money for part of an indoor firing range for public safety personnel, part of a Sleepy Hole Park renovation, trail enhancements, shoreline stabilization in the Sleepy Hole area, the renovation of the U.S. Army Reserve facility on Bennetts Creek Park Road to become a recreation center, building system replacements at the Godwin Courts Building, at least one new ambulance, a variety of road projects and intersection improvements, water and sewer system improvements and more.

Two or three years from now, 10-classroom additions at Northern Shores and Mack Benn Jr. elementary schools are planned.

In years of the plan farther out, anticipated projects include new fire stations in the College Drive and Wilroy Road areas, widening of Shoulders Hill Road and more.

Commissioner Mills Staylor noted that there are four storage and operations facilities in the plan for various departments, including fire, police, parks and recreation and the schools.

“That’s a whole lot of money schedule … for storage facilities,” he said. He asked if any consideration had been given to a combined facility that would serve all of the needs.

“As the city grows and the city obtains more and more products and more and more equipment that requires it to be stored under a roof or within a controlled environment, these needs are popping up,” Building and Capital Improvements Director Gerry Jones responded. “Police and fire get a lot of equipment that needs to be kept out of the weather so it can have an expected life use.”

He said some departments, especially police and fire, have specific requirements for their equipment that demands it stay in their complete control at all times. But he also said the city would look for the opportunity to combine needs wherever possible.

The plan will next be discussed at the commission’s Jan. 17 meeting.