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Stafford may get new list of parks


Stafford County staff and supervisors may start planning a list of parks projects to be put up for a public vote in 2015.

That follows by six years a previous parks referendum that voters approved in 2009.

The majority of an estimated $28 million would go toward new fields under a proposal for the ballot in 2015.

County staff shared information about the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, including the parks projects, with the Board of Supervisors at the afternoon portion of Tuesday’s meeting.

The CIP is a way for the county to plan  long-term spending and to prioritize projects.

The plan can be changed as the year goes on, and is typically revised each time the county creates the next year’s fiscal budget.

The proposed CIP would cover from fiscal 2014, which starts in July, up to 2023.

It will likely be up for public hearing in April, along with the next year’s budget and tax rates.

This spring, the county will begin to issue bonds for parks projects approved by voters in the 2009 referendum.

Several of the facilities should be completed next year, including soccer and baseball fields at Embrey Mill and Chichester Park.

But even with the additions, there still won’t be enough fields to meet demand, according to a study referred to  by capital projects manager Chris Hoppe.

 The proposed plan includes adding fields at three existing parks, as well as at a new location on Mountain View Road, where a YMCA was formerly planned.

The Parks Commission will look at the proposed bond referendum next month.

Before it would be on the ballot, it would need to be vetted by committees and receive public input.

Leftover interest from a 2001 parks bond is being used to expand the parking lots at Smith Lake Park.

Much of the proposed CIP has been approved by the board in past years, including transportation projects and school renovations and rebuilds.

A new animal shelter could be built in 2017 next to the Rappahannock Regional Jail off U.S. 1 at a cost of about $5 million.

Also presented was an addition of three courtrooms to the county’s courthouse, with office space and a prisoner-holding area, for $26.8 million.

For the schools side of the CIP, three rebuilds are planned for Stafford High, Moncure Elementary and Ferry Farm Elementary schools.

Three high schools would see additions, and Grafton Village and Hartwood elementary schools would be renovated.

An 18th elementary school would be built, combining with Head Start at the Gari Melchers complex.

There are vague plans for a Career and Technical Education Center. Though the concept has been around for quite some time, few, if any, specifics have been nailed down by the School Board.

Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Stimpson encouraged school board members to develop a vision sooner rather than later to allow for opportunities that arise, such as through proffers from developments for land for the center.

Of the 32 projects listed in the CIP, 12 are under way, eight are in the planning stage and 12 are envisioned for several years in the future.

The county’s total plan for the 10 years of projects is $387.8 million.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975