New park not among New Kent projects set to open
Next year could be a banner year for grand openings in New Kent as over $57 million in new construction projects, all with impact on the county, are projected to be finished.
Scheduled to open in 2008 are the county’s new $50 million high school, a $2.4 million sheriff’s department annex, a $2.8 million human services building, and a $2.15 million county vehicle maintenance facility.
But what county residents won’t be seeing is a new, centrally located park slated for 100 acres just north of the westbound rest area on Interstate 64. The land has been donated to the county by New Kent Vineyards developers.
In June, county Board of Supervisors members turned thumbs down on an $11.8 million bond referendum recommended by the county’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. At last Wednesday’s supervisors meeting, the prospect of building the park did not seem closer.
County general services director Jim Tacosa told the board that 65 percent of the 100 acres is deemed usable for recreation purposes and that the advisory group is entertaining public input on recreational uses for the proposed park. But when money was mentioned, particularly cost for access to the park site, supervisors put on the brakes.
“It seems to me we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves,” District 2 Supervisor Marty Sparks said. “We’ve got new buildings to pay for and it looks like this is just steamrolling ahead. We haven’t even finished Quinton Park.”
County Administrator John Budesky said the only expense relating to Criss Cross Park in the current budget is $100,000 for GPS work and determining an access route.
“We’ve made no additional commitments beyond that,” he said.
Sparks said, “We need to be clear with the public that [Criss Cross Park] is down the road and we can’t do everything at once. There are people out there who think that ball fields are coming real soon.”
“And they will be disappointed,” chimed in board chairman Stran Trout, who stressed that any park plans are “very preliminary.”
The board, meanwhile, heard updates on progress to date on the other building projects expected to open next year.
The new 242,000 square-foot high school, scheduled to open next September, has passed the halfway point to completion, county School Board member Van McPherson told the board.
“We’re on budget and we’re on time,” McPherson said.
The entire structure is expected to be under roof by Dec. 15, he said. Some glitches have been encountered with regards to the building’s lighting, but no delays with the September opening date are anticipated, unless the county’s courthouse area water/sewer project does not come on line on time, he added.
Tacosa said the 13,500 square-foot annex for the sheriff’s office, being built directly behind the courthouse, is on schedule to open in April. The building’s 911 center, however, is not expected to operational until June 1.
“Overall, the project is in good shape,” Tacosa said, noting the roof is finished and 50 percent of the brick exterior work has been completed.
The project also includes a separate 1,650 square-foot impound/evidence building along with a 10,000 square-foot vehicle impound lot.
Just east of the sheriff’s annex is the site for the county’s 20,000 square-foot human services building that will house the Social Services and health departments along with offices for Quin Rivers Agency for Community Action and Bay Transit. Opening is now expected in late 2008.
“We are fast-tracking it,” Tacosa added.
The vehicle maintenance facility is being built on Bassett Farm Road, one of the entrances to the new high school off Egypt Road, and is scheduled to open next August.
The building includes an 11,200 square-foot shop that boasts four bays, Tacosa said. Two fueling stations with four pumps on each island will be installed. Total fuel capacity will be 20,000 gallons (12,0000 diesel and 8,000 unleaded).
Also on the campus-like setting will be a 1,600 square-foot, enclosed wash-down pad, 2,500 square feet of office space, and 1,600 square feet for storing lubricants and spare parts.
The facility will accommodate school buses as well as the county’s fire/rescue fleet.