The town is seeking federal money to help fund a major greenway project after higher-than-expected bids put the project $1 million over budget.
Jerry Allen, Morrisville’s parks director, told the Town Council at its Sept. 27 meeting that it’s not possible to reduce the scope of the project along Crabtree and Hatcher creeks.
But he said there might be some federal money available to the town – between $500,000 and $800,000 of the $1.1 million overrun – to cover part of the difference between the roughly $2.3 million budgeted and the lowest bid of $3.44 million. The council gave Allen its support in pursuing that money.
This is not a new problem for Morrisville, or other towns in the area. Planned renovations to Morrisville’s aquatics and fitness center and have both topped projected costs by margins large enough to give the town reason to rethink the scope of those projects.
The routes, totaling about 2.5 miles, were proposed 15 years ago in the town’s 2001 transportation master plan. They would run between Davis Drive, at the town’s western border, and Crabtree Creek, which lies at its eastern edge. Morrisville currently maintains about 6 miles of greenways.
The scale of the project was such that the town completed a section of the Hatcher Creek route by 2004 but has been able to do little else without the support of Wake County and the state’s Department of Transportation.
But with that support, the routes are scheduled to be complete by 2018.
Morrisville officials have been exploring whether the town can expand the amount of town-owned meeting space available for both rental and town uses, and some say the new county library planned for the town center appears like a prime opportunity to do so.
But Wake County is asking that the town contribute $20,000 toward a $40,000 “visioning process” that would determine whether and how to integrate that space into the structure or on the same property during the expansion the town has discussed. The council didn’t come to a consensus Sept. 27 whether it is worth paying $20,000 to participate in the process.
“If we’re confident that we’re going to spend the money to expand the library, then I would say then go forward with this visioning process and spending the money to do so,” Councilwoman Liz Johnson said. “But if we’re not going to have the money to expand the library for this space, I don’t think I would even entertain spending the money in the visioning process.”
Mayor Mark Stohlman and Council member Michael Schlink said they would prefer not to spend the money. Instead, they suggested, the town could attempt to make better use of its current inventory of properties before exploring the construction of new ones.
“I’m in the camp of not wanting to spend the $20,000 for the visioning, just because I don’t think we have the funds to build what the results might be of that,” Stohlman said. “Every meeting we have, there’s another project that’s over budget, and these are projects that have been on our radar for years and years.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan