Committee Questions Department Heads on Priorities for Capital Projects

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Members of the JCC Planning Commission's Policy Committee review proposals for the FY 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Plan Feb. 11, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
Members of the JCC Planning Commission’s Policy Committee review proposals for the FY 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Plan Feb. 11, 2016. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)

An auxiliary gym for Lafayette High School and permanent restroom facilities at Jamestown Beach Event Park are among the project proposals members of the JCC Planning Commission will consider recommending to the Board of Supervisors for the next five-year Capital Improvement Plan budget.

During a meeting of the Commission’s Policy Committee Thursday afternoon, department heads answered questions from committee members about 15 proposed projects.

The projects submitted to the committee are only those applications that relate to the county’s 2035 comprehensive plan, Planner Jose Ribeiro said.

The Williamsburg-James City County School Division Fiscal Year 2017-2026 CIP, approved late last year, includes more projects than the 10 presented to the committee, but most relate to building refurbishment as opposed to land use.

Departments that submitted FY 2017-2021 CIP proposals were asked to rank the projects by importance. For the Parks and Recreation Department, improvements at the Jamestown Beach Event Park ranked higher than replacing bulkheads at the James City County Marina or installing a splash pad at Chickahominy Riverfront Park.

John Carnifax, director of Parks and Recreation, said events like the planned summer concert series will expand the offerings at Jamestown Beach. The location’s revenue potential also contributed to its top ranking, he said.

“Once we get the infrastructure in there, then it will become a much more utilized special event area,” Carnifax said.

Carnifax said the department has applied for a $250,000 grant, which could help with minor improvements at the park, but is requesting funds beginning in fiscal 2020 to pave roads and install permanent restrooms, electrical lighting and picnic areas.

Although the WJCC School Division provided rankings, WJCC Senior Director for Operations Marcellus Snipes said they consider all projects “vital” to the school division.

Of the 10 proposals presented, seven related to redesigning school main entrances so visitors are routed straight to the main office before they can access any other part of the building.

The other three school division applications included a canopy to shield students when they get off the bus at Stonehouse Elementary School, a walkway from Lafayette to the Warhill Sports Complex and an auxiliary gym at Lafayette.

The Lafayette items were not originally included in Superintendent Steven Constantino’s proposed CIP budget but were added after members of the LHS Athletic Boosters Club requested them for inclusion last year.

Committee members asked Snipes and Alan Robertson, facilities manager for WJCC Schools, about the potential for the auxiliary gym to be used outside of sports activities and whether a principal’s interest in using the gym could influence its need in the future.

Tim O’Connor, an at-large member on the Planning Commission, said he would rather see the auxiliary gym, which the school division ranked fifth, funded before the walkway, which the school division ranked last.

“They can’t fit everything into the one gym,” O’Connor said. “It’s amazing what we offer in the schools and yet we just don’t have the space for it.”

The committee also received more details on funding for the county’s contribution to a transportation revenue sharing effort, which was first proposed by County Administrator Bryan Hill, and solutions to drainage issues throughout the county.

Members of the Policy Committee, which include O’Connor, Chairman John Wright III, Robin Bledsoe, Rich Krapf and Heath Richardson, will rank the projects based on the applications, supporting documents and responses from department heads.

After hearing from the Policy Committee, the Planning Commission will submit a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.