2017-03-23 / Front Page

$1.1M capital plan fixes roads, sidewalks

Proposal also includes money for solar studies
BY TIM RIEL

The administration’s proposed capital improvement plan that is just north of $1.1 million includes a first-time line item dedicated to alternative energy.

Although Town Administrator Andy Nota’s plan for solar power is only $25,000, it represents a commitment to green energy. The money, Nota said, will be used to determine if arrays could be viably installed on public property.

The town’s primary plan is to conduct feasibility studies on the rooftops of town facilities, including the schools and the Fort Wetherill building, which are scheduled for new roofs.

Although solar studies represent progressive planning, a familiar line item is $325,000 for road improvements, including $200,000 for North Road. The remaining $125,000, which is down from recent years, will be used in the Jamestown Shores.

“Because we made that investment to North Road, we’re holding back on the annual program,” Nota sad.

The streets that will benefit from the money include Schooner, Capstan, Davit, Frigate, Beacon, Spirketing and Sampan.

Although some northerners are questioning the pace of North Road improvements, Nota said the plan is progressing at a money saving pace. By using town dollars instead of going to bond, taxpayers are saving millions of dollars, he said. Also, according to Town Engineer Mike Gray, workers ran into some trouble with the road ledges.

“North Main Road has been challenging,” he said. “We ran into a lot of ledge. It slowed us down for a whole month. We were hammering rocks for days upon days.”

If a contractor had run into that problem, Gray estimated, the true cost would have been about $250,000 just for that work.

Nota also set aside $30,000 for sidewalk repairs around the bend on Conanicus Avenue near Bank Newport, including the intersections of Union, High and Hamilton. The town, however, is torn as it heads farther south toward Fort Wetherill. According to Nota, the state is responsible for financing sidewalks in that area, but it hasn’t yet mobilized in town. Despite the state ownership, the town is liable if anyone were to trip.

“That’s the quagmire we’re in,” he said.

Nota said he would continue to look into the problem. He also advised the councilors to start thinking about the future, including whether the town should just have a sidewalk on one side of the street in that area.

At Fort Getty, Nota recommended adding $75,000 to the park fund, which already has a $200,000 balance. That’s not including a $71,000 set-aside already approved for a parks office and garage.

“We’re getting to the point where we should have sufficient funds to tackle some of the items we’ve been talking about,” he said.

Among those projects are a new gatehouse and improvements to the Whittier battery.

“We’d like to regain control of nature around these really incredible structures,” he said. “It’s really a captivating spot.”

Like the road improvements, Nota has proposed a multi-year plan opposed to going to bond.

“These projects are small enough to pay as you go,” he said. “It may take 10 years to complete them all, but we should be able to handle these internally.”

At the library, Nota recommended $55,000 for repairs, including $25,000 in the HVAC account, bringing that total to $75,000.

“It’ll set us up in case of a failure, which we’re expecting in the near future,” he said.

However, Nota said, the capital plan for the library could change “dramatically” if the trustees have its renovation project approved by voters.

Nota also recommended a new tractor and car for the recreation department. The $50,000 tractor would replace the Bobcat that Andy Wade, recreation director, said isn’t capable of clearing Mackerel Cove on a daily basis. The $15,000 director’s car would replace the Crown Victoria.

Other line items include $75,000 for affordable housing; $102,500 for information technology; $30,000 for defibrillators; $88,000, which is the second half of the payment, for the ambulance purchased last year; $5,000 for rights-of-way management; and $15,000 to fix the duct work for heating and sound control at the senior center.

Despite the request of department heads, Nota zeroed some projects pertaining to the bike path, cemetery, Taylor Point, the soccer fields and Mackerel Cove. He also balked on Gray’s request of $100,000 for a new trash compactor.

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