Town budgets money for industrial park plan

By Alex Bridges

Experts may not come cheap when Strasburg starts planning development in its newly acquired industrial park.

The proposed budget for fiscal 2015 includes $100,000 to cover professional services related to the development of a master plan for the North Shenandoah Industrial and Business Park and the area south of Interstate 81 known locally as the “golden triangle.” Strasburg annexed the park in December. Town Manager Judson Rex presented his proposed spending plan to council at a work session earlier this week.

The town would divide the cost of any services among the water, sewer and general funds. Given the nature of the plan and the infrastructure component, the town would take $40,000 from each of the utilities and $20,000 from the general fund, Rex explained Wednesday.

“That’s all proposed at this point but it seemed like council was generally favorable toward that, understanding that it’s an important project for the town,” Rex said.

Work on the plan should cover aspects of the park, from its streets and pedestrian paths to the desired users.

Councilman Scott Terndrup expressed dismay over the cost.

“I guess I’m still trying to get my head around $100,000 for a master plan,” Terndrup said. “That seems like a whole lot of money going out for a bunch of consultants but I’m not sure what we’re getting for it.”

Consultants don’t come cheap, Councilwoman Sarah Mauck said. Councilman Donald Le Vine pointed out the importance of the park and the businesses it attracts.

“In my view, the future of the town belongs in the golden triangle, our economic future,” Le Vine said. “Without it … we don’t have anything.”

Rex explained to council that the town would likely seek proposals from teams of consultants and experts in several fields rather than advertise for a single firm.

Creation of the plan requires a multi-disciplinary approach, Rex said. The town manager envisioned conceptual engineering for the water and sewer lines and the storage component. The document requires a land-use planning component and Rex said he expects involvement by experts in this field. An economic development component would look at what types of industries and businesses the town could attract to the park.

“… this is the future of the town and this is really our bread and butter for our economic base in the future and we need to decide as a town how that’s going to develop and not leave it in the hands of other folks,” Rex said.

The town should create the plan for the park now rather than try to rectify issues that come up in the future, Rex said. For example, the town may want to require developers build sidewalks in the industrial park, rather than let development occur and leave workers without alternative means of travel around the park, Rex noted.

“We really need to take a holistic approach to it and do it right the first time,” Rex said.

Work on the master development plan can’t begin until the town has adopted the Unified Development Ordinance — a document that updates and combines Strasburg’s regulations for zoning and for creating subdivisions — as well as the future land use map. Efforts to create the document began last year but should conclude soon. Rex said its completion should free up time for Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray to begin her work on the master plan. Murray will develop the scope of work for the master plan and will assemble a steering committee to move the project forward.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com