IW supervisors approve buying wetland credits for Nike Park Road extension

Published 9:50 am Friday, November 3, 2023

Isle of Wight County supervisors will use $250,000 in local stormwater management funds to purchase wetland and nutrient credits for the Nike Park Road extension project.

The supervisors entered a cost-sharing agreement with the Virginia Department of Transportation in 2021 to fund up to $2 million of the project’s cost, which VDOT had estimated at $16.3 million last year. The agreement had further specified that Isle of Wight was to administer right-of-way acquisition for vacant land and acquire wetland credits.

“Cost estimates have increased due to supply and demand challenges since the original project agreement in 2021,” a report by county staff states.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Wetland credits, or mitigation banking, refers to funding the restoration, creation or enhancement of wetlands for the purpose of compensating for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.

The supervisors voted unanimously on Oct. 19 to approve the $250,000 transfer from the county’s stormwater management fund to its capital project fund. The matter was one of seven approvals included in the meeting’s consent agenda.

According to the county staff report, all right-of-way acquisitions were completed on Oct. 11. The county has also obtained letters of availability and pricing from three nutrient credit banks and one wetlands bank.

The supervisors had voted in August to authorize “condemnation” of undeveloped land owned by Wakirk Properties for the Nike Park Road project, referring to the process under state law for localities to acquire property through eminent domain for public use. The Wakirk Properties parcel was the final piece of right-of-way the county needed for the 1.4-mile extension of the two-lane road to proceed.

An Oct. 14, 2022, project schedule, which had assumed right-of-way acquisitions would be complete by July 10, slated the project’s construction advertisement for Nov. 12, 2024. Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson told The Smithfield Times on Nov. 2 that he wasn’t aware of any firm dates for construction yet.