SANFORD CITY COUNCIL: Public safety building will not appear on November ballot

May. 16, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

The proposed construction of a new public safety building, replacing the Sanford Police Department facility, will not appear on November's ballot.

Sanford City Council removed the building from its list of "community-defining" projects — which includes an expansion of the Endor Iron Furnace Greenway, streetscape improvements to downtown Sanford and Jonesboro, sidewalks and recreational improvements — from a proposed General Obligation Bond referendum during its budget retreat Wednesday.

Along with a reduction in proposed bond funding for the greenway, removing the public safety building drops the total proposed bond amount from $21.5 million to $14.5 million.  

The council agreed to remove the public safety building because, regardless of whether it was approved by the voters, it would have to be constructed in the near future to meet the space needs of the police department. If voters rejected the building project, that could make funding it in the future more complicated, said Sanford Finance Director Melissa Cardinali.

"That wouldn't prevent it from being funded a different way," she said. "But it just makes it a little bit more difficult."

The public safety building could be financed with an installment purchase, similar to a household mortgage, she said.

While the other items are important and improve quality of life, public safety is a city mandate, said Councilman Rebecca Wyhof.

"Public safety is our job, and it is expected of us," she said. "The other items are wonderful and determines the direction of the community, but if they fail, we still can provide our vital city functions."

Council members agreed to debate the construction and location of the building at a later date after hearing from police leaders and city staff.

Details on the bond referendum items were also discussed during the retreat.

* Greenway Expansion: With the estimated price dropping from $5 million to $4 million, the proposed greenway expansion would connect the Sanford Municipal Center, located at 224 E. Weatherspoon St., to Depot Park, located in downtown Sanford. Also funded would be the expansion of the greenway — dubbed the Medical Mile — from Kiwanis Family Park to Central Carolina Hospital, offering a variety of health and therapeutic advantages.

* Downtown Sanford Streetscape Plan: Includes sidewalk, lighting and intersection improvements on Moore Street from Carthage Street to Wicker Street, Steele Street from Carthage to Wicker, and Horner Boulevard from Carthage to Wicker, among other items, for an estimated $5 million.

* Jonesboro Streetscape Plan: Includes sidewalk, lighting and intersection improvements on Main Street from Lee Avenue to Dalrymple Street, Trade Street from Main to Dalrymple, and Main Street from Dalrymple to Horner, for an estimated $1.5 million. The two streetscape projects would be grouped together on the ballot.

* Sidewalk Improvements: The sidewalks slated for improvement have not been released, but the $2 million would cover all of the high-priority sidewalks and a portion of the medium-priority sidewalks within the city. High-priority sidewalks, as identified by a city pedestrian plan, are those on roads considered medium- to high-traffic, located at busy intersections, having a history of pedestrian-involved accidents, connecting to medical facilities or schools, and considered to be in poor shape that can create hazards.

* Recreational Improvements: The $2 million proposed would cover the cost of a splash-pad park for children, picnic tables, shelters, restrooms and parking, if needed, at an undetermined area. While still an estimate, a splash-pad the size of a tennis court costs anywhere from $200,000 to $400,000 to accommodate 100 people.

The council will vote on the language of the bond referendum during its 7 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the municipal center.