Town sees Avtex redevelopment cost rising

FRONT ROYAL – The cost to bring ITFederal and other businesses into the former Avtex site, along with the added traffic, continues to climb.

The Town Council learned at a work session this week that the locality might need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to supply utilities to ITFederal and neighbors at Avtex, also known as Royal Phoenix. The town also can expect to spend millions of dollars on road improvements to handle commuter traffic that ITFederal would bring to Front Royal.

The council reached a consensus to move forward with designing a pump station for the former Avtex property.

Pennoni Associates estimated it would cost $9,200 to design a pump station – $7,100 for the design and $2,100 for the operations and maintenance manual. Pennoni estimated the cost to build a 10-horsepower Smith and Loveless pump station between $385,000-$400,000 that would cover the pump house, fencing, generators, pumps, electrical components and construction bonding. The cost would not cover related items such as the gravity sewer leading to the station and the force main leading to the outfall sewer manhole.

Planning and Zoning Director Jeremy Camp gave an update Monday to the council on the need for pump stations to serve Royal Phoenix or Avtex. Pennoni told  town officials that one pump station would not accommodate the entire development, Camp said. The town would need two stations – one on the north end, the other on the south side. The station on the north end would accommodate 80,000 gallons of water per day or the equivalent of 4,200 employees. But the town would need the second station to pump water to the south end of the development, Camp said.

Mayor Hollis Tharpe asked if the town would cover the cost of the project using money from its utility funds. The town should recoup the cost by collecting utility connection fees, Tharpe added.

Town Manager Joseph Waltz noted that the site plan for ITFederal has been approved and that the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority continues to spearhead the project.

“This all boils down to trying to figure out who’s actually going to pull the trigger on this,” Waltz said.

Councilman Jacob Meza asked about the timing of the pump-station construction and when ITFederal expects to start operations.

The pad on the site is ready, Tharpe said.

“IT’s moving forward,” Tharpe said. “They’ve already applied for their permit.”

Councilman William Sealock Jr. warned that ITFederal likely would need to know when the town will provide the utilities once the firm starts operating.

Meza said he would support moving forward on the design of the pump station knowing the eventual need. However, Meza said he would not sign off on the construction of the station until they know when ITFederal would begin operations.

Vice Mayor Eugene Tewalt echoed Meza’s concerns, noting that the EDA and ITFederal representatives need to understand that the firm’s facility can’t open until a pump station comes online.

ITFederal’s site plan includes the installation of its own private pump station that would send its wastewater to the area of 11th Street near the future home of the police department to which the town would connect, Tharpe said. Waltz concurred with Tharpe.

The council also heard an update on the West Main Street Extended Traffic Study Phasing Addendum – a report that looks at recommended improvements to town roads and intersections in anticipation of the development at the Avtex site. The recommended improvements, not including the planned extension of West Main Street through the Avtex site, would cost an estimated $11.83 million, according to the report.

The Planning Commission expects to review the master development plan and traffic study for the Avtex development at its Dec. 20 meeting.

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