Windsor projects to be costly

Published 1:27 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

WINDSOR — The Windsor Town Council is on the precipice of several sizeable town projects, some of which have been collecting dust on the small municipality’s plate for years.

But despite the town’s growing needs, the council remains hesitant to spend the funds necessary to see the projects to completion.

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The major projects the town is currently eyeing for the upcoming new year include new sidewalks, a maintenance building, the renovation of the former Windsor Middle School gym into a town center, and eventually an entirely new municipal building as well.

The council’s ongoing dilemma regarding what the municipality needs versus the likely monetary costs was highlighted at last week’s Town Council meeting as the council was briefed on the status of a new public works building for the town’s maintenance crew.

The plans for the project started out simply enough roughly two years ago. A new building was needed to store equipment in and anticipated costs for a new structure started around $230,000, according to Town Manager Michael Stallings at the Dec. 13 meeting. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

But Brian Camden of Alpha Corporation informed the council that the building, with the inclusion of site work and necessary storm water procedures, was going to end up costing over $738,000.

The unanticipated higher cost was mainly due to $380,000 of site work and keeping with government storm water regulations, according to Camden.

The building construction itself, at 4,000 square feet and $184 a square foot, remains at the low end of what the type of project typically costs, Camden said.

Council members, noticeably flummoxed, balked at the price.

“Originally, we were looking for a building or a shelter to put our equipment in so it wouldn’t be out in the weather,” said Council member Durwood Scott. “Spend this kind of money on a building, you might just as well replace the equipment over the years and just leave them out in the weather.”

Council member Tony Ambrose said he was not willing to spend that kind of money right now.

“I can’t justify it,” Ambrose said. “If this is what our number one priority is, then okay.”

But the council has not yet nailed down exactly what it’s number one priority is.

Earlier that same evening, both Mayor Carita Richardson and Council member Patty Fleming brought up the increasing demand for a community center in the former Windsor Middle School gym. Isle of Wight County turned the gym over to the town when the new Georgie Tyler Middle School was built in 2014. So far, however, a board of directors to oversee the renovation of the facility has not been named and the conversion project is languishing. Town Council voted Tuesday to have a board appointed no later than this February.

Council member Macon Edwards also brought up the ongoing attempt to install sidewalks from the end of Church Street to Holland Meadows, an active area where pedestrians have often struggled with ditches and cars driving down the narrow stretch of road. Sidewalks at the location, without curb and gutter, have been estimated to cost $588,000. With curb and gutter, the project would exceed $1.06 million.

A new municipal building also in the works for the town is estimated at $3.6 million.

“We’ve got a lot of projects that are on our plate and we’re going to have to pretty soon prioritize which projects we think need to move forward,” said Stallings as council members continued to voice concerns over the maintenance building. “I agree when I saw the cost estimate, it hurt. If we need to go back and reevaluate what the goal of the project is and do that, that may be something we have to consider.”

Ultimately, the council decided to again hold off on the building and take another month to decide what projects to prioritize, and what to set aside again.

“We’ve been on this for two years,” said a frustrated Fleming of the plans for the new maintenance building.

“We were close,” she sighed. “So close.”  {/mprestriction}