By Pauline Hovey, Field Officer
In the midst of Greene County’s annual update and review of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), the Planning Commission held a public hearing earlier this week on the various departments’ project requests. The public offered no input on the CIP, which now moves on to the Board of Supervisors to consider in the annual budget process.
Each department was directed to submit projected needs for the next 10 years, estimating the cost, source of funds, and level of use. Commissioners did not prioritize the items listed, although they did ask questions and offer comments about the extensive items being proposed. Several departments requested new facilities, either because their current facility is outdated, overcrowded, dilapidated, or, as in the case of the Greene County Transit and the Parks and Recreation Department comfort station, nonexistent. In commenting on the Parks and Recreation Dept. requests, Vice Chairman Bill Martin expressed concern about the nonexistent restroom facilities at the park, which is used extensively for sports, social, and community events. “My main concern is health and sanitation,” Commissioner Martin said. “I’ve seen adults and kids out there, they get hot and sweaty, they use the port-a-john, and there’s no place for them to wash their hands, and then they eat food. It’s really a public health issue.” Martin has frequented the park both for exercise and in his capacity as a Ruritan, and he recalls selling food during one fundraiser when he witnessed children using the port-a-john and coming over to buy food afterwards.
Cost for the comfort station is estimated at $120,000, which was based on bids the department received several months ago and are now invalid. Additional needs and requests for the upcoming fiscal year include $20,000 for a generator for the Stanardsville Fire Department; $87,200 for upgrades to the county administration building, which includes the cost of installing fire alarms that currently do not exist; $1.5 million for a new building for the Rescue Squad, which is housed in a converted old home that is outdated and inefficient and cannot accommodate all the rescue vehicles currently owned; $3.475 million for county infrastructure projects such as extending well and water impoundment resources; $250,000 for the Economic Development Authority to upgrade high-speed Internet in the business park; and $5.3 million for the schools facilities project, which will be the subject of a public hearing at the Board of Supervisors meeting on January 25.
In its request for a new building, the Sheriff’s department suggested merging the sheriff’s office with other departments in need of new facilities to save the county money. “Thinking strategically, I think the sheriff is onto something,” Commissioner Martin said. “Maybe the county needs to look at consolidating multiple departments under one or fewer roofs than is being offered.”
Several departments did not provide the requested information for the CIP. These included the Animal Shelter, Commissioner of Revenue, Registrar, Free Clinic, Solid Waste, and Virginia Department of Health. Chairman Norman Slezak noted, “We have a big hole with these departments missing, and I would hate to send this forward without that information.”
The commissioners are not responsible for establishing priorities or making suggestions in their CIP review. They simply recommended to move the CIP forward with their comments to the Board of Supervisors. “It’s our job to just review the CIP for consistencies and inconsistencies and make sure it jives with the comprehensive plan,” Martin explained. It will now be in the hands of the supervisors as to how to use this information going forward in the budget process.