Town mulls hiring consultant for plan

Industrial park’s future discussed at retreat

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg could spend more than $100,000 on an extensive development plan for the town’s industrial park, officials say.

Town Council and staff members met Saturday for their annual retreat and spent most of the morning discussing the future development of the North Shenandoah Industrial and Business Park that Strasburg annexed last December. Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray and Town Manager Judson Rex led the discussion about the proposed request for a consultant or firm to draft a master development plan for the park.

Councilman Don Le Vine noted the scope of this request for proposals.

“This is not just a routine RFP for us,” Le Vine said. “This is serious. We’re going to put resources into it.”

Councilman Seth Newman expressed support for the proposed request and for hiring a consultant.

Councilman Scott Terndrup voiced skepticism with the idea of hiring a consultant to draw up the plan and questioned the scope of the request for proposals. Terndrup said the town already had interviews and surveys conducted in Strasburg in 2006.

“I guess I’m just not seeing a whole lot that we’re asking,” Terndrup said. “[I] just don’t see how hiring somebody [for] something we can already do, how that holds up.”

Town Council can expect to spend more on the consultant’s work than the $100,000 set aside in the current fiscal budget, Rex advised in response to concerns Terndrup raised.

“We don’t have a lot of data about the park and there’s been stuff done even as soon as 2006 — That’s pre-recession,” Rex said. “The economy’s completely different now than it was in 2006.

“I think the data we’re looking for is new and relevant and somebody with expertise, that has feet on the ground in terms of economic development and getting a feel for the economy and the market, is going to be able to contribute a lot to this project,” Rex added.

The town would invest a significant amount of money in the project and to develop the park, Rex acknowledged.

“The benefit of having a consultant is they have the time and resources to pull it all together and do, as Jud said, some of the work we don’t have,” Murray said, adding that the scope would include more information beyond a list of park improvements and its future.

“While staff is perfectly capable of accomplishing most of the tasks on here, there’s a lot more to it and it takes a lot of work getting the data together and things we need to do,” Murray noted.

Terndrup reiterated his skepticism.

“I’m just expressing my concern over this; [it] is a lot of money from which we’re gonna get a report and if it moves us forward,” Terndrup said. “I mean, it’s not a dime being spent on actual construction or road or anything. This is just paper we’re gonna get.”

Councilman Robert Baker asked how the town would know about the consultants’ expertise.

“Can we have any real assurance they know what they’re doing?” Baker asked.

A consultant must demonstrate to town officials that they could do the work required before selected, Rex said. The request for proposal states that the chosen consultant would need to develop a plan that includes reports on economic futures, capital projects as well as marketing and branding.

The town also will create a steering committee of representatives of local government in and around Strasburg, the business community and landowners.

Consultants have until noon on Dec. 12 to submit proposals. Council could review and consider awarding the contract to the recommended consultant by Feb. 10.

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