By. Neil Williamson, President
Last night (8/17), the public had the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding a Greene County steering committee’s priorities for the proposed improvements to the Greene County Schools athletic and performing arts facilities. Roughly forty citizens attended the meeting as did all of the School Board members and two members of the Board of Supervisors.
There seems to be community agreement that the facilities are in need of repair and replacement. The question is which facilities are included in this project and at what cost. To that end, a steering committee was formed to determine the community priorities.
The steering committee includes citizen representative Bob Burkholder, School Board Chair Michelle Flynn, Supervisor Jim Frydl (Ruckersville), School Board Member Darcy Higgins, Schools Activities Director Katie Brunelle and School Superintendent Dave Jeck.
The process, which usually would take nine months, has been compressed to three in order to meet a December 31 deadline for low interest Build America bonds (which are funded by the federal stimulus package).
New capital projects, such as school and hospital construction, transportation infrastructure, and water and sewer upgrades, are being funded by either Build America Bonds or the 2010 School Bond Allocation program, Recovery-funded financing tools that allow state and local governments to borrow money at lower costs.
Architect Bill Bradley of SHW Group walked through the prioritization set by the committee and was seeking public input regarding their opinions of the committee’s work.
The overarching goal of the project is to address unmet needs in the competition/performance venues and bring those facilities into compliance with current building code and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The committee broke projects down into three groups:
- Must Do: Items that are required for safety, building code or ADA
- Should Do: Unmet needs in competition/performance
- Would Do: lower priority unmet needs
The following projects were described as fundamental:
- Access to the Site
- Upgrade Site amenities (toilets/concessions)
- Securing the site
- Improve track surface (6 lanes)
- Improvements to the main competition field
- Retrofitting grandstands
- New Gymnasium floor
- Create new baseball and softball facilities with lighting
- Upgrade Performing Arts Center
One conceptual master plan was unveiled for public comment that unified the entrance to the athletic facilities and increased the number of restrooms and concessions.
The steering committee mentioned a number of items that had been moved into the “Would Do” category – lower priority unmet needs these included tennis courts, swimming bubble, and nature trail/cross country course.
The steering committee is scheduled to meet again and finalize their recommendations, those findings and more refined designs will be presented to the public on September 9th.
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org