Board looks at capital requests

County government leaders received a sneak preview of upcoming capital improvement project requests this month, including new fire stations, public school buildings and athletic fields.

Two members of the Louisa County Board of Supervisors said at the Dec. 21 meeting that they want to push funding for new fire and emergency services stations and equipment, even if it means other priorities have to wait a bit longer to be fully funded.

While the county’s first fire and rescue station to be built largely with public funds is planned on New Bridge Road to serve the central part of Lake Anna, Supervisors Fitzgerald Barnes and Duane Adams (Patrick Henry and Mineral districts) said they want to see more progress in the near future. 

Fire and Emergency Services Chief Robert Dubé submitted a $3.25 million CIP request for new fire trucks and ambulances over the next five years. He asked for $800,000 in fiscal year 2025 to build a new station in a more central part of Zion Crossroads, and $900,000 for a station in Ferncliff by 2031. 

Dubé also proposed to spend just over $800,000 by 2026 to renovate stations owned by the various volunteer fire and rescue agencies.

“I think where we are short and we need to redirect is our public safety facilities,” Barnes said. “I think we can push back some of the school projects, because we may not need as much space. Not to say not to do those projects, but maybe push them down the road.”

The capital improvement plan covers a 20-year span up to 2041 to help the supervisors with long-term planning, although the board’s immediate focus is on projects to be funded in the next fiscal year. 

Louisa County Public Schools submitted a capital request for a new $14 million building to house the growing career and technical education department, plus $500,000 in fiscal year 2022 for design work for the structure and $700,000 for related parking. In 2023, the schools requested $15 million to add space at the middle school.

Another county department that is planning for the long term is parks, recreation and tourism. Director James Smith asked the supervisors for $150,000 to be set aside each year toward a new athletic complex to be built two decades from now. It would include fields for soccer, football, field hockey, lacrosse and general recreational use.

He also asked for $350,000 in 2023 to establish recreational facilities at Bowlers Mill Lake in the Green Springs area, including a fishing pier, permanent restrooms, pavilions and parking. Currently citizens can fish on the lake, but the property is underused. 

In addition, Smith proposed to relocate the dog park from the planned fire and rescue station site on New Bridge Road to Louisa Town Park. A splash pad for children to enjoy during the warmer months, a basketball court, restrooms and dedicated parking would also be constructed in the park by 2025. The total project cost is estimated at $305,000.

“Besides the addition of a pavilion, the existing Louisa Town Park has not had any enhancements in the 26 years of existence,” Smith said in his written request.

Adams asked if the town of Louisa would be willing to contribute toward the cost of  the improvements, since the county-owned park is located in the town.

Andy Wade, the county’s economic development director, requested $2.5 million in fiscal year 2022 for utility planning for the Shannon Hill Business Park. He also asked for $750,000 each of the next two years for transportation funding for the park. The park could qualify for a 50 percent matching grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation, he said.

The Louisa County Planning Commission will hear from department heads about the requests at its Jan. 14 meeting and make recommendations to the supervisors in February. County Administrator Christian Goodwin will advise the board which projects he thinks should be prioritized as members develop the fiscal year 2022 budget.

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