Council views capital plan

Published 10:14 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

City Council got its first look at a $888 million capital improvements plan during its work session Wednesday.

The presentation from city Finance Director Tealen Hansen and city department heads included almost 70 major projects for the city during the next five years.

Funding for the plan will come from three sources — state and federal funds, city funds and debt. A little more than half of the $285 million plan for the first five years will be debt funded, while 35 percent will be paid with federal and state money.

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One of the large projects in the plan is the construction of a new central library on West Washington Street. The project will cost $15 million during fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The first wave of funding will require $1.7 million for the initial design and planning of the library, and the remainder will go towards the actual construction of the facility.

Two citizens spoke in favor of the library as non-agenda speakers during the regular City Council meeting.

“I just wanted to show support for the new downtown library in the upcoming CIP. It is an incredible resource for our community,” Megan Smith said. “I would love to see a space that our community can really engage.”

“What is a library? It’s a local city government’s commitment to every resident to say that every person, no matter what economic level they were born or what age they currently are, they have access to information,” Jessica Reitz said.

Public schools also received attention from the plan. Northern Shores Elementary School, the old Driver Elementary and the College and Career Academy at Pruden would all receive updates to their facilities in some fashion under the plan, costing $12 million between all three during the first five years.

John F. Kennedy Middle School is planned to see a complete replacement in the next 10 years, and the plan laid out $10 million for initial planning and possible site acquisition. About $33 million will be needed for the project.

Other projects proposed include road and drainage enhancements, enhancements to the city airport and the addition of three new fire stations.

A public hearing on the capital improvements plan will be held on Feb. 21.