Garner Cleveland Record

Garner projects lined up for next 5 years

The 2013 bonds passed by voters will fund a lot of capital expenditures by the town of Garner for the next five years.

But not everything the town needs to get done can be paid for by the bond.

So council members last week approved a five-year capital improvement program, which includes bond projects and more.

The most generous bond in town history includes ongoing projects at the police station, town hall and parks and recreation.Non-bond expenditures will cover smaller needs.

To fund these projects, the council proposed spending $9.3 million from bond proceeds in the fiscal year 2015-2016 to help fund $13.2 million in projects, spending $9.5 million for fiscal year 2016-2017 and $7.1 million for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Non-bond projects

Most of the $3.1 million that the town will spend in non-bond improvements will cover public safety expenses and street resurfacing.

As well as standard software, equipment and gear updates, the police department has requested body cameras in 2016 and new ballistic helmets for each officer.

The department says body worn cameras can assist with evidence in civil liability and resolve complaints, adding to the current cameras in first-responder police vehicles.

Ballistic helmets will enable more officers to work an incident in the case of active shooter situations with the nationwide rise of such scenarios. Police spokesperson Lt. Chris Clayton said the department is continuously learning from the military. For example, the department has provided tourniquets to the officers to save lives and was one of the first departments in the region to obtain rifles.

It helps the department to be prepared for worst-case scenario, Clayton said.

“As we learn best practices, those are things that have helped save lives that we’ve learned in combat,” he said. “It’s another tool in the toolbox. It doesn’t mean that we’re ever going to need them.”

In 2017, the town has budgeted for a portable police pole camera, which officers can take to high-profile events or place in an area with suspected crime where they may need additional surveillance, Clayton said.

The department also has requested $50,000 for an emergency operations center, where various departments and agencies can gather and coordinate in one location during a major emergency such as severe weather.

Other extra capital improvements include drainage basin installments or replacements on the Forest Drive and Frances Drive intersection, Meadowbook Drive at Cason Street and at 305 Coachman Drive, as well as resurfacing 99 miles of town streets in the next five years.

Bond projects

The work on the police station, significant sidewalk improvements, parks and recreation enhancements and historic downtown redevelopment will cost nearly $40 million.

Most will be funded by the 2013 bond referendum, except for some of the recreation center. The ConAgra donation and town savings will contribute to the remaining costs of the rec center.

The spring and summer of 2016 will see completion of the town hall, the indoor recreation center and expansion of the Garner Performing Arts Center.

“The council (members) are visiting town halls, joining with the architect to look at features to incorporate into our town hall,” assistant town manager Rodney Dickerson said. The town is actively moving forward to draw up a design with the same consultant who is completing the police station.

In 2019, the town will widen, light and landscape U.S. 70 and, as soon as next year, plans to pave sidewalks along Buffaloe Road, Claymore, Buckingham, Benson and Main streets, among others.

“This will give citizens easier access to the greenway system,” Dickerson said.