Vice mayor weighs in on CIP debate
Column by Nancy Dowdy
What do you think? Comment below
Here is the list of the projects to be funded by the Capital Improvement Bond Issuance. I will attempt to explain each project included in the $10,495,249 and its importance as well as what I have heard from my constituents.
Replacement fire engine (pumper)
West End Fire Station
The response time for many areas of our city is more than double all standard guidelines. When we annexed in 1986, we promised a fire station on the West End of Waynesboro to provide services to those annexed and purchased the equipment. In response to this issue, I have only heard from one person opposed to this project, and their concern was not whether or not we needed a second fire station but rather a concern in regards to the location. I have heard much support.
Tennis Courts at Ridgeview Park
The tennis courts at Ridgeview Park are used on a regular basis by a cross-section of folks – a group of retirees use them every morning, tennis lessons are taught to our youth (many disadvantaged), et cetera. These courts have been repaired numerous times and outlived their useful life. They are currently in such poor condition that they present tripping hazards.
SWAT (Staunton Waynesboro Augusta Tennis Association) has applied for a grant to help offset some of the cost of rebuilding these tennis courts. The City Council recently voted 5-0 to approve spending $12,000 for construction drawings for this project. If we do not move forward with this project, that money will have been wasted.
In my opinion, this park has been neglected far too long. This project is for a new playground at North Park. This is something I have been asked about on a regular basis and the beginning of creating a family environment on the north side of Waynesboro.
This is for upgrades to the bathroom facilities at Ridgeview Park, including bringing them into compliance with ADA regulations. This park is frequently used and these facilities are in dire need of improvements.
Basic Park Ballfield Complex
The City of Waynesboro purchased this property approximately 10 years ago at a cost of approximately $220,000. Drawings were prepared at that time for the complex at a cost of $70,000. Council recently approved a floodway study for this project at a cost of $15,553.
To date, our children do not have a lighted ballfield to play on. In a time when gangs, crime, teen-age pregnancy and many other issues plaque our youth, I believe it is imperative to give our children every opportunity for organized activities. I also believe that for every dollar we invest in these programs will give a return by reducing jail costs, et cetera.
A baseball complex would also give our community the opportunity to generate revenue for our city by hosting tournaments, something which is currently very limited. The ability to hold baseball and softball tournaments would bring revenue to Waynesboro in terms of hotel rooms, meals, et cetera.
There are also several other issues at work here. There is currently a ballfield in my ward, Wayne Hills, which literally sits in a neighborhood’s backyard. I hear from those folks on a regular basis regarding balls hitting their homes and cars, traffic and parking concerns, nuisance issues, et cetera. The parking and traffic issues also create a safety concern for our children. We may also be able to alleviate some of that neighborhood’s stormwater issues if we could revamp that field.
Ridgeview Park Ballfield Improvements
In order to keep the Basic Park Ballfield Complex a family-oriented facility and meet the needs of all the ball leagues of Waynesboro, it was recommended that the fields at Ridgeview be upgraded for the adult softball league and some other leagues. This project goes hand-in-hand with the Ballfield Complex.
We have worked closely with representatives from all the leagues on this project in order to meet their needs.
Rosenwald Community Center Renovation
This community center is used by many and is in dire need of maintenance and upgrades. We have a responsibility to maintain our infrastructure, and I believe that putting these projects off will cause our buildings to deteriorate further and cost more in the long run – not only in terms of further damage but also in terms of construction costs.
Jackson Wilson Facility Upgrades and Improvements
This center houses our Senior Center and is also in dire need of maintenance and upgrades. We have a responsibility to maintain our infrastructure, and I believe that putting these projects off will cause our buildings to deteriorate further and cost more in the long run – not only in terms of further damage but also in terms of construction costs.
Sidewalk/Crosswalk Construction Projects
I have heard from many citizens of Waynesboro asking for sidewalks and crosswalks, especially around our schools, Rosser Avenue, Main Street, et cetera. This is for safety reasons as well as making our city enjoyable.
Stormwater Maintenance Heavy Equipment
Stormwater Projects 1-8
One of the first experiences I had on council was being called out to Wayne Hills after a storm event to see firsthand the results. I had to put on boots and wait for the water to rescind in order to get down King Avenue to visit my constituents on Loudoun. I walked the neighborhood, saw water standing everywhere and was presented with pictures. These people told they had been fighting this issue for 30 to 40 years. Many people in that area were unable to get out of their homes, and we would have been unable to get emergency vehicles into that area had there been a need.
If these projects are not funded through the Capital Improvement Plan, they will be put into the Utility Fee and the rates will be increased considerably.
Downtown Mall Improvements
Downtown Streetscape Phase II
We have completed Phase I and I have heard so many complements. This would be the second block which includes Grand Piano and Augusta Cleaners. These folks have already waited a long time, and constructions costs are rising.
We have also waited a long time for this project.
Public Works Operations Land Acquisition
This is needed in order to keep moving forward with the current projects. Mrs. Smith, Mr. Reynolds and I recently toured our public-works operations, and it was so wonderful to see the improvements we have already made. For example, it is the first time we are running our water system efficiently and cost effectively actually conserving our water supply!
This one is imperative. In order to be proactive and avoid closing bridges after they become unsafe, we must maintain them.
$13,553,216 needs to be borrowed for the Sewer and Water Projects, which we are currently under DEQ mandates.
In addition to the expenditures already made on many of these projects that I have mentioned, endless staff hours have been spent on preparing for these projects. To stop them would be extremely costly in terms of time and money already spent, rising construction costs, et cetera. We vote on this July 23. I think it would be difficult for the council to identify and agree on what are “needs” and what are “wants” in that amount of time.
We have spent years identifying these projects and preparing for them. The cost for the debt service is built into the 70-cent tax rate. These are just some of the things you are getting for one of the lowest tax rates for a city in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Please contact your City Council members and let them know your feelings.
Thank you for your time!
Nancy Dowdy is the vice mayor of Waynesboro.
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