Front Royal asks county for help with Avtex road

FRONT ROYAL – Town leaders are asking Warren County to help cover the cost of a new road in the former Avtex Fibers site.

The news comes late in the game as the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority ramps up efforts to market the property. EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald said Tuesday the authority needs at least part of the road and new entrance off Kendrick Lane to market the former Superfund site.

The 3/4-mile road as designed cuts through the property from a new entrance off Kendrick Lane and connects West Main Street to Kendrick Lane. The EDA planned for the town to cover the cost of the project, McDonald said. The county has neither identified funds in the budget nor has it included the road in the capital improvement plan.

Planning for the connector though Avtex began years ago, McDonald explained to the Warren County Board of Supervisors at a work session Tuesday. The town has had the updated plans since 2013, she said.

Now Town Council has indicated that it wants the project to be paid for through a funding formula that calls for Warren County to cover 66 percent and Front Royal the remaining 34 percent.

“This was the first we had heard of it,” McDonald said. “So we’re all hearing this at the same time. It’s not something that we had prepared for.”

The road is expected to cost approximately $1.3 million. Under the funding formula the town would pay $442,000 and the county $858,000.

Board Chairman Richard Traczyk voiced some support for the town’s request, noting that the county also would benefit in the long term from the site’s redevelopment and the connector road.

Town Council discussed the road project at a Jan. 20 work session in light of a letter the town received from McDonald earlier that month.

“Town Council remains committed to the full redevelopment and reuse of the Avtex Site,” Town Manager Steve Burke states in a letter dated Jan. 21. “As such, Town Council has agreed to pursue the design and construction of the Avtex Connector Road [as] an EDA capital project funded through the terms of the Fair Funding Formula.”

Front Royal has collected approximately $75,000 a year that it earmarks for the construction of the road, McDonald told the board. Traczyk asked if the Virginia Department of Transportation can provide some money for the project.

“If we had had time to plan for this and they had asked for this at the beginning of this project, we may have been able to apply for VDOT funds,” McDonald said. “But, now we need a road for the site and we need the road soon.”

County Administrator Douglas Stanley asked if the town could cover part of the project to address the EDA’s immediate need for an entrance off Kendrick Lane and enough paved road to access to an inside lot, then come back and apply for aid from VDOT. McDonald said she already sent a letter to the town asking that it consider that request but council was waiting to hear what the county might do. McDonald said she will report back to council Monday.

VDOT’s next application period comes in the fall with money approved the next summer, Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress said.

Stanley said the town’s request comes “late in the game” as the county has begun work on the next budget.

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