Renovations priority in 2013 improvement plan

15th street building in need of repair to be used for government office space

By Kim Walter — kwalter@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County’s capital improvements plan for fiscal 2013 was presented to the Planning Commission for its approval at the panel’s Wednesday night meeting.

Last year, the commission ranked the remaining 20-plus projects and then worked with county administration to compile descriptions and projected costs for each one.

Fiscal year 2013 marks the 14th year of the capital improvement planning process, and since it’s beginning, the county has been able to help fund and complete more than 40 projects.

“It’s good to see some of those big numbers fall off,” said Planning Commission Chairman Mark Bower, in regard to the list of remaining projects.

The county ranked the Virginia Department of Transportation revenue-sharing program and upgrades to both A.S. Rhodes Elementary School and Ressie Jeffries Elementary School as the top priorities. There is no estimated cost for the upgrades in 2013, but the VDOT program is estimated to cost $250,000 for that year.

According to the plan, “the road improvement projects that could be funded under this program have the potential to serve the entire community.”

The more costly projects are ranked a bit lower on the county’s priority list. Total costs for renovating the former Warren County Middle School on 15th Street are estimated at more than $14 million. The former school has been rezoned for commercial use so that several county offices could be housed there.

The renovation is ranked in priority just below that of building a new middle school for the county. The new school is estimated to cost more than $58 million, and will “allow sufficient room for future growth” in accordance with the School Board’s 20-year facility plan.

Other higher ranked projects include the regional jail, a methane gas monitoring system and Rockland Park master plan development.

County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley added that in the beginning, there was a lot of doubt from a financial aspect that so many projects could be completed.

“We always find a way to get it done,” he said.

The capital improvements plan will be presented to the Board of Supervisors for approval in the coming months.

In other matters at Wednesday’s meeting, the Planning Commission:

• Approved its annual report for 2011. Planning Director Taryn Logan noted that last year was the first since 2004 that the department saw an increase in new housing permits.

Additionally, there was a significant decrease in zoning and other violations from 2010.

• Welcomed new member Scott Stickley to represent the North River District. Stickley is a civil engineer and has done presentations before the commission in the past.

• Unanimously re-elected Mark Bower as chairman, and elected Doug Rosen as vice chairman.