Depressed state revenues are causing Strasburg Town Council members to keep an eye on the clock as they close in on deciding how they want the town to move forward with its project extending Borden Mowery Drive to connect it to Radio Station Road in the Strasburg business park.
What once appeared to be a straightforward project that fits into the town’s larger vision for building out a robust industrial park has battered multiple Town Councils and nearly drew the town into a legal battle with a local business owner. In the last vote by previous council members before elections in May, the decision to condemn a piece of property halting the road extension project was put on hold and passed on to the current crop of local leaders.
Town Manager Wyatt Pearson has been working with council members, engineers and other town staff members to bring the current council up to speed on the ins and outs of the project so they can decide how they want to proceed before potentially losing out on grant money they’ve already qualified for.
During the Town Council work session on Monday night, Pearson told council members that because the state anticipates significant revenue shortfalls, various grant programs may start pulling back funding that hasn’t been expended. The town has received a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation that will cover half the costs of the Borden Mowery Drive extension project but as the initial deadline for soliciting bids by May 25, 2021, looms that funding may be in question.
Pearson said that VDOT will begin looking at projects that are on track for completion and if projects have missed any deadlines they will be red-flagged for deallocation. If the council members decide to go with one of the alternate routes, Pearson said, they will definitely be behind for the May 25 deadline but should still be on track to begin construction by Aug. 13, 2021.
Pearson stressed that the delay does not guarantee the town will lose its funding but said that the current financial climate the state is facing is not doing them any favors.
Council members are juggling three options for the project. One option, which will include condemning a resident’s land — lead to further legal costs and the owner has said he will fight the town in court — already has significant groundwork laid out. The town has paid $186,411 in design and engineering fees as well as conducting the necessary environmental and geotechnical tests for the project.
Because the previous Town Council determined they didn’t want to take the condemnation route and the current council members appear to be leaning the same way, engineers have suggested two alternate routes for the road that would bypass the property in contention. The two other suggestions — the “northern” routes — will require additional costs that Pearson told council members would be in the range of $115,000.
Mayor Brandy Boies scheduled a special Town Council meeting for Sept. 22 with the Borden Mowery project as the sole topic of discussion to give council members another opportunity to review what they know before making a final decision. Council members are set to vote on how they want the town to proceed at their regularly scheduled meeting next month on Oct. 13.