Softball netting included in list to appear before council in new resolution
The Roswell city councilors discussed and approved drafting a resolution with the top five projects for the city’s infrastructure capital improvement plan (ICIP) application for state funding.
According to the state Department of Finance & Administration’s (DFA) website, the ICIP is a state-coordinated process by which entities establish “planning priorities for anticipated capital projects” and provide an opportunity for the city and the state to plan for funding and development of such infrastructure projects. The ICIP applications are approved by the state Legislature and the upcoming legislative session begins Jan. 15 and ends March 16.
On Dec. 20, the councilors looked over a list of infrastructure projects in the city at a special City Council meeting. Mayor Dennis Kintigh emphasized the council’s approval on the ICIP was not a final action since a resolution would be drafted by city staff and presented at the Jan. 10 meeting for the council to formally vote.
The final vote was 7 to 1 with Councilor Caleb Grant casting the dissenting vote. Councilor Jeanine Corn Best and Councilor Judy Stubbs made amendments to include a softball improvement project as one of the top five potentially state-funded ICIP projects and a water infrastructure study to the city’s capital improvement plan (CIP), which were approved by a majority of the councilors. All councilors were present, except Councilor George Peterson. Councilor Jacob Roebuck voted on the infrastructure projects and had to leave toward the end of the meeting.
Mayor Kintigh compared the ICIP as the city’s wishlist to the state and put on his former legislator hat, saying “changes can be accommodated until the capital outlay bill is passed.” Kintigh clarified that the council determined priorities on the ICIP list at the special meeting and the rearranged projects that would not be removed from the city’s CIP. He explained the CIP list as staff identified projects to be done and “city can’t seek any funding from the state, federal grants, private grants or otherwise unless it is on the wishlist.” The city staff confirmed Kintigh’s comments.
Bill Morris, community development director, presented the projects to the councilors and city staff at Dec. 20’s meeting. Morris wrote in the memo included in the meeting’s agenda packet that the staff has restructured the ICIP spreadsheet to include the city’s 274-project five-year capital improvements plan, or CIP, “to facilitate enhanced long-term capital projects review.”
City Manager Joe Neeb said his long-term goal is to have one project list to assist with the city’s budgeting cycle with a fiscal year ending June 30 and the new fiscal year beginning July 1. Neeb said the “ebb and flow of the amount of millions of dollars of projects destroy the ability for a balanced budget” and the consolidation of projects will assist with the numbers on the budget. Neeb said the intent is for the list to become “all-inclusive” and flexible, and the projects will definitely extend beyond the five years. Neeb said Morris and staff created the city’s CIP list by consolidating other lists and plans.
Morris shared the timeline started with a DFA staff training in March, then went before the Infrastructure Committee in late March. The draft ICIP went before council in June for approval, staff met with the legislative delegation to present the top five projects in October, then the DFA inputs the requests to print out an ICIP book for the upcoming legislative session.
Morris said having the projects on one document, including the info, cost, phasing and funding sources, allows the projects to be accurately tracked and funded. He said the living document can be multiyear with project phases, allowing the council to prioritize projects based on the list, while providing “better transparency in the city.”
The original top five projects for the ICIP were listed as follows: road reconstruction and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades on Union and Washington avenues costing $5,100,000; a bridge replacement on South Lea Avenue and West Deming Road valued at $1 million; replacement of large diameter water valves costing $2,350,000; replacement of asbestos water (transite) lines for $2 million; and the Louis Jones Fire Training Center improvements for $300,000. The council approved Best’s amendment to include the softball improvements by removing the replacement of transite water lines from the ICIP’s top five and moving it to the city’s CIP list. The four other projects will remain on the state’s ICIP.
Councilor Steve Henderson said the Legislature tends to fund visible or “warm and fuzzy” projects and said the $350,000 softball netting project at the Charlie McVay Memorial Softball Complex at 1500 N. Grand Ave. would be a perfect addition. Roebuck shared his support for the project earlier in the meeting. Henderson seconded Best’s motion, made an amended motion to delete the replacing of the asbestos water lines from the ICIP and add in the softball netting.
Councilor Juan Oropesa asked if there was prioritization process for projects receiving nonlegislative funding and said he was concerned about the renovation of the Spring River Park & Zoo’s rocket slide play structure into a sign and installation of a new rocket-themed play structure. This item was approved at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting. Oropesa said it seemed that “one councilor” was able to push the project through council and asked if the City Council follows guidelines to prioritize the projects on the city’s CIP list.
Though Oropesa didn’t directly identify the one councilor, Roebuck said he “appreciated the compliment,” that it was thought that his efforts moved the rocket project through the council. Roebuck said he is “just one councilor,” he did follow the process allowing the council to discuss and vote on the project and encourage other councilors to do the same for other projects that need prioritization.
Neeb said the prioritization by the council will happen during the budgeting process and added the rocket wasn’t on the plan, which is why the council had conversations about adding the rocket plan through committees and full council. Neeb also said the softball project had been on the CIP, but “disappeared from list” and said the new combined list of projects will allow the city to not lose projects.
Henderson also compared the legislation to a “900-pound gorilla in the drivers’ seat,” saying the city may have to choose different projects which delegates would support. Grant and Kintigh both shared that they have had conversations with the local legislative delegates to understand the “hot topic” projects that would affect local needs. Grant and Kintigh were in favor of asking for projects that would relieve the heavily burdened general fund such as recreation, public safety and road infrastructure projects.
Grant said he wanted to see the softball project presented in detail. Though the softball project had been brought up, Grant said he hasn’t seen any details or information on resolving the softball project — but the rocket was presented over a couple of months and with detailed information.
Neeb said there was one presentation at the General Services Committee meeting and Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services, said the committee voted to move forward with $4,500 engineering cost, which she believed has been started. Gilbert said more information will come from scope and cost of the project from the engineering study. Councilor Savino Sanchez, chairman of the General Services Committee, explained some of the plan to Grant and said he would like to see the netting because it was proposed in the original plan.
Kevin Dillon, project and facilities director, explained the plan included tall metal poles with horizontal netting from the spectator area to the dugout. Grant asked why the three other baseball fields in the city are without netting and if there was any difference between the softball complex and those fields. Gilbert said the netting was optional and never funded in the multi-phased project.
The council also had a discussion about a new time and day of the week for future full City Council meetings. More coverage on this topic will appear in a future edition of the Daily Record.
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.