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Indian River Town Meeting held June 2, 2015
Following are responses to issues, grouped under headings, raised at the Indian River Town Meeting.
Security Camera in Parks
Security cameras have been installed at Elizabeth River Park as part of capital projects security program. Flash cams have also been purchased to be placed in several areas with a history of high vandalism, such as Deep Creek Park and Lakeside Park. One will also be installed near the new dog park area at Elizabeth River Park. More cameras will be purchased with FY16 capital funds when proven effective.
Maintenance responsibilities at the Arboretum just recently transitioned to the City and conditions will soon improve. Volunteers will be out to clean up and mulch the trails within the next few weeks. The City is also developing a strategy of how to best maintain the house and grounds and Parks, Recreation and Tourism received budget funds to assist in FY16.
Municipal Pool/Renovations to Community Centers
While the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism recognizes that a pool would be a significant addition to our community centers and for our City, there is no funding available at this time for such an endeavor. Our department's approved capital funds have been limited to improving existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, there is no funding in the City's 5-year approved capital budget for an aquatic facility at any community center or public facility. However, as we evaluate our future needs, staff is looking at other, less costly options such as a splash park or water playground to recommend for future consideration in a community center or park.
As there is no funding available to build new, larger community centers at this time, the focus has been to renovate or replace existing facilities, such as aging playgrounds, athletic lights, tennis courts, fencing, shelters, and other dilapidated park amenities, as well as to install facility security systems and to help make facilities more accessible. To build a new, adequate community center with a pool could cost anywhere from 12 to 17 million dollars with yearly operational costs of 1.2 to 1.7 million dollars. Recent improvements at some Parks and Recreation facilities, including the community centers, can be found on Parks, Recreation and Tourism's department home page.
Water and Sewer Connection Fees
City Code Section 78-52 requires connection to City water and/or sewer services within six months of when the services are available to the property. The six month connection requirement is in place to protect the health, safety, and welfare, of both the public and the environment.
Hailey's Cove is a developer project for which the City reviewed and approved plans. Utility line routing and construction timing are determined by the developer, not Public Utilities. In some cases, the proposed development is never constructed. As a result, Public Utilities notifies property owners only after the water and sewer facilities servicing the properties are completed and activated. At that time, a letter is sent to inform the property owner of service availability and the requirement to connect within six months. The developer's contractor is required to contact each landowner to whom service is being provided to determine the precise desired location of the service line. This action generally occurs several months before the system is activated.
The connection fees for developer-built projects are $3,108 for water, $2,702 for sewer, and a one-time meter fee of $150. Hampton Roads Sanitation District does not charge a connection fee when the property is abandoning a septic system. Thus, the total fees required before connections can be made is $5,960. Costs for the property owners to bring the services to the house will vary depending several factors, including the distance from the utility main to the home on the property, the location of their existing well or septic tank, etc. The cost for this work is determined between the owner and the plumber.
Property owners who cannot afford the costs of connecting or who otherwise meet the requirements can apply to the Utility Review Board to request a 2-year temporary deferral of the mandatory connection requirement, per City Code Section 78-51. Public Utilities can be contacted at 757-382-6356 for more information.
Traffic Signal Concerns
The Public Works Traffic Engineer reports that several signal warrant studies have been conducted over the last few years that evaluated the intersections along Butts Station Road. These studies were conducted in response to citizen requests for a new signal and/or proposed new developments that would generate enough new traffic to warrant the need for a signal. Installation of a traffic signal at the intersections with Elbow Road/Spanish Moss Drive and Centerville Turnpike meet federal warrants.
- Butts Station Road and Elbow Road/Spanish Moss Drive Intersection
A new signal is warranted at this location with the projected traffic that will be generated by the new subdivision on Spanish Moss Drive. In addition to installing a new signal, turn-lanes and roadway alignment/widening improvements at the intersection will also be included in the project. These improvements are programmed to occur in the initial phase of the new subdivision and will be funded by the development.
- Butts Station Road/Centerville Turnpike
A recent traffic study indicated a new signal is warranted at this intersection. We are therefore recommending that Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) funds be used to install a traffic signal.
There was also a request that the signal phasing at the Battlefield Boulevard/Oak Grove/Hollywood Drive signal be changed to split phase operations for the side streets (Hollywood Drive and Oak Grove). Split phase operation consists of having two opposing approaches time consecutively rather than concurrently. Changing the phasing to a split phase operation is less efficient and would result in either very short green times for the side streets or reducing the amount of green-time allotted to Battlefield Boulevard. Staff reviewed the accident history and signal phasing options for the intersection and no changes are recommended to the current phasing plan at this time.
Police Visiting Schools
The Fifth Precinct requires that their officers visit the schools within the precinct boundaries as often as they can. They attend school functions and activities throughout the entire school year to establish trust and grow relationships. Additionally, there are thirteen School Resource Officers assigned in both the middle and high schools throughout the city. Each of these officers not only has the responsibility to enforce the laws, but also to build relationships with the students.
Wayfinding Signs and Maintenance in Greenbrier TIF Area
Several projects are being considered for the Greenbrier Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District. Wayfinding/Directional Signage has been funded and authorized. City Council will be considering possible design, placement, etc. Public Works receives annual funding to provide enhanced maintenance to the Greenbrier TIF District.
City Provision of Free Wi-Fi Services to Neighborhoods
Accessibility to broadband within the City of Chesapeake is a concern for both residents and businesses, and the City is actively engaging the community in this discussion. The City held a community broadband meeting on May 14, 2015 to address residents and business owners concern of the lack of broadband services within their communities.
The City has also applied for a grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Development to study ways to address the gap of broadband accessibility. The $75,000 grants will be offered to eight municipalities The decision to award is still pending as of today.
The City of Chesapeake Department of Information Technology has been vigorously working within the guidelines of the FCC and the Commonwealth of Virginia to expand the scope and coverage of broadband/wireless connectivity for City operations. While the City cannot legally compete with the local telecommunication carriers, the City's enterprise broadband network strategic plan presents a compelling opportunity to provide enhanced wired and wireless communication services throughout the city. Not surprisingly, forward thinking communities recognize the changing nature of communications in building and maintaining a thriving community. However, few communities have been able to put together an eco-system that combines critical infrastructure with an economic business model that is self-sustaining. Chesapeake's plan to address the self-sustaining model of operations is twofold.
First, the City is in the beginning phases of crafting an RFP to address the City's wireless infrastructure. This will address the gap with the City's operations with broadband connectivity. Second, the City is exploring the creation of a wireless broadband authority to address the underserved and un-served areas within the city. The plan is to design a scalable network capable of providing open accessibility. The City's wireless authority will be able to invite Internet Services Providers (ISP's) and other businesses to market the reseller's services. With an open access model, service providers can purchase wholesale bandwidth from the wireless broadband authority to deliver and package their own services directly to their customers based on needs. By working with the City's Public Safety-related and Parks, Recreation, and Tourism departments, the City will be able to provide wireless cameras as an additional policing presence to detour crime while extending the wireless connectivity to City owned parks. These plans are in process and will be brought to council at a later date.
State and City School Funding
In March, the School Board submitted a proposed budget for FY 2015-16 totaling $455.94 million that required local funding in the amount of $186.8 million. The remainder of the school budget is primarily funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia, however, some funding is provided by the federal government and small amount comes from student fees.
The FY 2015-16 Operating Budget approved by City Council includes $450.31 million for Chesapeake Public Schools; $181.24 million of which is provided from local tax collections. The difference between the School Board request and the budget approved by Council is $5.6 million. Since Council approved the budget, the School Board revised its request to $453.47 million or $3.16 million above the amount approved by Council. The School Board's revised budget request included the following funding plan:
- $1.14 million is provided through the School Insurance Fund by a draw on a trust fund established for retiree health insurance,
- $1.99 million drawn from reserves held by the City for the School Board, and
- $35,758 from state funding.
The additional City funding would come from the following funds held by the City:
- Proffers collected from developers – $387,000 would be used to pay debt service on Indian River High School. This allow for a $387,000 increase in the Textbook Fund.
- Revenue Sharing Settlement from FY 2014 – $598,000 – the City's tax collections during FY 2014 exceeded budget estimates. Under the revenue sharing formula in use, an additional $598,000 is available to schools.
- School Capital Lockbox – $1.0 million would be diverted from Capital reserves for schools and would be used to supplement the Textbook Fund.
The School Board was able to reduce its budget request with the following adjustments:
- Remove $1.9 million request for City to cover operating costs in the event state funding does not materialize. While the state budget does include contingent funding for FY 2015-16, it is very likely that state funds will be sufficient.
- Reduce budget requirements by recognizing lower utility costs, implementing savings in transportation, lowering contract service payments to vendors, and reducing School Board transfers to its Textbook Fund.
- Increase payments for retiree health insurance that are partially offset by projected savings in health insurance of active employees.
City Council considered and approved the changes proposed by the School Board on Tuesday evening (June 9, 2015). For FY 2016, the City Council and School Board were able to resolve all differences and reach a compromise that addresses school priorities.
We recognize that school funding is not sufficient to address all school requirements and that the School Board is drawing on reserves in order to maintain quality education standards. Since this strategy cannot be sustained indefinitely, the Superintendent and City Manager have proposed a three step plan to address school funding requirements. Over the coming months, the staffs of the City and the School Board will identify the magnitude of the funding imbalance and will then work with the City's legislative delegation to persuade the General Assembly to address school funding. We intend to also work with other supporters of public schools, including the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia School Board Association, the Virginia Municipal League, the Virginia Association of Counties, and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. We believe there is support throughout the state for restoring state funding of K-12 education. Our task is to convince members of the General Assembly. If we are unsuccessful with the General Assembly, we will then seek local solutions to the school funding crisis. At this point it is premature to speculate on future local solutions, but schools are a leading priority for the City and we are committed to maintaining excellent standards.
One of the main (former) tenants of Chesapeake Crossing is still obligated for rent payments under a long-term lease agreement with the property owners. Although the space is being marketed for sub-lease the owners are unwilling to accept any proposals that offer a lower lease rate.
The City's Economic Development Department does have a retail strategy for the Military Highway corridor and there will be positive impacts from the Kroger Center and Woodlake Drive extension on the sub-market.
The Virginia State Code permits mopeds and they are legal on city streets, as long as specified requirements are met. For example, the Code provides that no moped shall be driven on any highway or public vehicular area faster than 35 miles per hour. Any person who operates a moped faster than 35 miles per hour shall be deemed to be operating a motorcycle. No moped shall be driven on any highway by any person under the age of 16, and every person driving a moped shall carry with him a government-issued form of photo identification that includes his name, address, and date of birth. Operation of mopeds is prohibited on any Interstate Highway System component.
Commonwealth Railway Trail Conversion
By way of background, the referenced rail line has been relocated to the medians of State Route 164 and Interstate 664. The Virginia Port Authority, as imminent owner of the abandoned right-of-way, has informally expressed the desire to transfer the property to the City of Chesapeake. As such, the City of Chesapeake has scoped a project to construct a 10-foot recreational off-road trail to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. This trail would become a critical component of the larger "Multi-City" Trail that would eventually extend from Suffolk to Ocean View, a distance of over 30 miles.
The total project cost is estimated to be $775,000 for design and construction of a 3 mile off-road trail system (Phase 1) along the abandoned Commonwealth Railroad right-of-way from Gum Court to the Portsmouth City line. The Commonwealth Transportation Board included $300,000 for this project in the FY 2015-2020 Six-Year Plan, with $60,000 of this amount required as the local 20% match. Staff submitted a grant this past year for the remaining funding; however, we were unsuccessful in obtaining additional funds. The feedback we received from VDOT was the City's grant application did not compete well because we do not yet own the property which the trail will be constructed on.
Given the limited funding, Public Works is designing the project in-house. Preliminary survey data has been obtained and design efforts will continue over the course of this year with design completion scheduled for spring of 2016.
Public Works is also coordinating closely with the City Manager's Office on intergovernmental efforts with various stakeholders to resolve the property transfer issue. Advancing the design and obtaining the necessary right-of-way will better position the City to receive additional grant funding.
Trash Disposal – The City's Waste Management Administrator reports that the will enlarge the enclosure to provide additional dumpster capacity. We will also remove the second dumpster from the old parking lot to eliminate dumping by non-residents.
Streetlights – The City's Traffic Engineer reports that staff inspected the streetlights in the Harbour North community and along Libertyville Road. Three (3) of the lights in Harbour North and six (6) lights on Libertyville Road were not working. Staff reported these outages to Dominion Virginia Power (DVP) on June 18, 2015 for repair.
No Parking on Libertyville Road – The City's Traffic Engineer reports that on-street parking restrictions have been enforced along the west segment of Libertyville Road near the apartment complex. This section of Libertyville Road was experiencing a high number of cars parking on both sides of the road, causing problems for school buses, waste collection vehicles and emergency vehicles. The remaining sections of Libertyville Road, where many of the houses front the street, has pavement widths that are generally wide enough to support on-street residential parking without causing any traffic issues. By policy, however, if the residents that live along a local street would like to have no parking signs installed they can submit a petition to Public Works for review showing the majority of residents support the parking restriction.
Street Paving of Sections of Military Highway in the Greenbrier Area
The referenced sections of Military Highway in the Greenbrier area were repaved in 2010 and 2012.
Street Sweeping Schedule [View Weekly Schedule]
Public Works seeks to sweep residential streets 2-4 cycles a year with the target being a four time a year cycle. However, significant recurring downtime of street sweeper equipment and severe weather conditions have substantially limited sweeping operations to once or twice a year per neighborhood. The City is divided into many sweeper routes with the crews working on various areas of the City in rotation, starting in Western Branch, then Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Great Bridge and South Norfolk. Public Works also sweeps major arterials and bridges on a recurring basis.
Georgetown Boulevard Repaving
The City's pavement management software program uses a ranking system to prioritize all the streets in the City for the resurfacing schedule. This program ranks all the street sections from 0 to 100, with 100 being in the best condition. Georgetown Boulevard is currently ranked 53. The limited funding (typically around $4.0 million per year) used for resurfacing only allows around 40 street segments to be resurfaced each year; therefore, higher ranking streets are usually not included in the schedule. Public Works is currently in the process of working on a list of streets for next year's schedule.
Quality control of road repair work – The City has inspectors on-site during paving operations to ensure quality control of repair work. The inspectors are in contact with the citizen that raised the issue for specific areas of his concern.
Road repairs in Norfolk Highlands, particularly Rokeby Ave. and Willow Ave. – Repair was done by the Public Utilities Department in response to an emergency sewer line problem. It was an unforeseeable and isolated case.
Water ponding in the street after the new pavement was completed – A ditch through a resident's yard was proposed to resolve the problem. Public Works staff made several attempts to contact the property owner regarding the corrective measure suggested for this location. No response was received and therefore city crews cut a swale within city's right-of-way to alleviate ponding in the roadway
Storm drain problem throughout the neighborhood – A site meeting is scheduled on Monday, July 6, 2015 when an overall site investigation and data collection of the general drainage problems in the neighborhood will be conducted. Results of this meeting will determine definitive course of action probably to be done in stages over a period of time due to the size of the neighborhood and the status of the existing storm water facilities.
Bike Lanes – Indian Creek
The City's Trail Plan Map [PDF], the primary planning guide that shows the future locations for new bike/pedestrian facilities within Chesapeake, indicates that segments of Sparrow Road, Indian River Road, Tatemstown Road, and Wingfield Avenue are planned as future bike facilities. There is currently, however, no active projects to construct bike lanes along these roadways. Most projects that add bike lanes along City roadways are considered in the design, and are built concurrently, with public roadway improvement projects. In addition, adding bike lanes or re-striping roadways with wide outside lanes for bike use is considered when existing roadways are scheduled for re-paving through the Citywide re-paving program.
Re-designing existing roadways with bike lanes and/or sidewalks is considerably constrained by the width of the roadway section, roadside development, and/or available right-of-way. City land development policies have been continually updated over the years to support the future installation of bicycle/pedestrian/trail facilities by requiring new development and/or re-development projects to reserve right-way-of for these types of projects.
Chesapeake Public Schools Vocational Programs
Chesapeake Public Schools offer Career and Technology courses at all seven high schools in the following areas: Family and Consumer Science; Business; Technology; Culinary Arts; and Marketing. There is a Career Counselor on staff at each school to assist in career choices and career planning.
There are approximately 500 students who attend the Center for Science and Technology who work to obtain credentials and training in the following trades: Auto Tech; HVAC; Cosmetology; EMT; Radio/TV; Nail Tech; Firefighting; Computer Systems; Welding; Horticulture; and Nursing.
The Schools partner with TCC to develop career pathways that reflect current job market needs in our region. Currently there is a pathway in the mechatronics area (a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering, control engineering and computer engineering), with plans to expand career pathway offerings in the upcoming years. In addition, students in Chesapeake Public Schools can take dual enrollment courses that not only give them high school credits, but TCC credits at a substantial tuition discount as well.
Public Safety – Staffing
Both the Fire Chief and Police Chief have responded that there are various factors which go into determining the staffing numbers of firefighters, paramedics, and police officers. In order to maintain optimal public safety, personnel safety, and service delivery, major elements considered are federal, state, and local mandates, standards of coverage, service delivery and deployment, current demand and demand forecasts, travel times, new development, and the overall totality of the service delivery system.
Making a determination for additional personnel requires balancing the safety concerns of citizens, risk factors and the financial condition of the local government. National standards are a consideration, but are not the determining factor. As with many things, one size does not fit all. For example, there is no absolute right number of public safety personnel per 1,000 citizens. Every locality is unique. A locality that has a large older population may very well require a greater than average number of paramedics, but a lower than average number of police officers. A locality with a large number of high rise residential structures may require a greater number of firefighters than a suburban locality.
As indicated, many factors are considered and the City Manager and City Council work to strike an appropriate balance between resources available and all the required services of the City.