Transparency still lacking

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

On Sept. 22, I received an email from the Isle of Wight County administrator regarding my letter to the editor in the Sept. 22 edition titled “History repeats on road cost.” Although that letter addressed various past county projects not completed according to plans, I will limit my response to the county email just to the section pertaining to the increase in cost for the Nike Park Extension mentioned in The Smithfield Times issue of Nov. 24 (“IW to share in Nike Park Road cost”).

Below is an unabridged quote of a portion of the email I received from the county administrator:

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 “I normally don’t respond to letters to the Editor in the Smithfield Times, but your letter (attached) in today’s paper had so many factual errors that I thought you would like to have the correct information. The responses to your statements are as follows:

“ — Nike Park Ext ($11,658,000) was funded by VDOT through a SMARTSCALE grant in 2016 that our transportation staff applied for and received. Soon after the grant was awarded, VDOT decided to administer the project which meant that they were responsible for the design and any cost overruns, not IOW Transportation Staff.”

In last week’s Times article, sentence 6 states that “Isle of Wight will commit up to 50% of the VDOT shortfall not to exceed $2.2 million.” This negates the statement in above sentence where the county administrator stated that VDOT was responsible for the project to include cost overruns.

Instead of sending an email advising me of my “many factual errors,” the county should have responded in a public manner. It is unfortunate that we have a county government that is not transparent in publicly addressing the various issues in the county such as stormwater, water supply and Chesapeake Act programs, etc.

There is no mechanism for the citizens to openly express concerns with the county government since the Board of Supervisors monthly meetings are manipulated not allowing for free expressions and seldom receiving honest responses.

Jose E. Hernandez