Municipalities across the country are identifying infrastructure-related projects that could be accelerated if President-elect Barack Obama signs stimulus legislation that could pour billions into the nation’s economy. Charlottesville is no different, and at their meeting on January 5, 2009, City Council heard details on several projects that could be quickly fast-tracked should funding come available.



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“We’ve not gotten a formal request from anybody,” said City Manager Gary O’Connell while beginning his presentation to Council. In preparation, he studied a recent speech in which the President-elect offered broad strokes of how potential stimulus money might be used.  O’Connell told Council he thinks that the Obama administration will be looking for public works projects that can create jobs quickly while also addressing crumbling infrastructure. O’Connell said this could involve the following kinds of projects:

However, O’Connell cautioned Council about expecting much.

“We have no idea how much money we’re talking about, if any,” he said.  He also warned that large metropolitan areas are requesting funding for $200 million projects, and that it is uncertain how any funding will be prioritized.





Artist’s rendering of the new Smith
Aquatic Center, one of the City’s top priorities to receive stimulus
funding if it becomes available (Source: City of Charlottesville)


In developing the City’s list

, Economic Development Director Aubrey Watts separated potential  projects into a series of categories and then ranked them based on several factors, ranging from how the project fits into Council’s priorities to how many jobs might be created. Watts also said that if a major project were somehow funded, that would allow the City to restore other projects that have been put on hold due to budget cuts.

Mayor

Dave Norris

said he did not see any clean energy projects on Watt’s list, such as LED streetlights. Watts said the City has already embarked on “an incredible amount” of energy conservation projects. He said LED streetlights could not be implemented within a few months given uncertainty about what specific technology might be implemented.

Councilor

David Brown

asked if it would be possible to invest the City’s public housing stock to make units more energy efficient.  Norris said that the City is currently replacing all of the refrigerators, but that other areas could also be upgraded. Watts recommended that the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority submit a list of potential projects.

Councilor

Julian Taliaferro

said he appreciated Watts’ emphasis on securing one large project.  After seeing the list, Brown said he was comfortable having staff move ahead with sending a letter to state and federal officials identifying City priorities.  The rest of the Council agreed. Councilor

Satyendra Huja

was not present.


Projects ranked as Charlottesville’s top priority:


Project Title:  Water protection infrastructure program


Category: Repair Aging Infrastructure

Details: Repair or replace 7.2 miles of corrugated metal pipe and crumbling clay pipe

Cost: $2,800,000

When Construction Could Start: March 2009


Project: Smith Aquatic Center


Category:  Repair Aging Infrastructure- Parks and Recreation

Details: Build new 24,330 square feet pool and wellness center, including 6-lane competition pool

Cost: $11,450,000

When Construction Could Start: April 2009

Sean Tubbs

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