Smithfield Herald

Archer Lodge building forecast includes $4.4M in projects

A park, veterans’ memorial and police station are among more than $4.4 million in projects included in an Archer Lodge building forecast released this week.

The town’s first capital-improvement plan, adopted Monday by the Archer Lodge Town Council, shows about 20 projects scheduled for completion from this year through 2019. Mayor Michael Gordon said it’s unrealistic to expect the town to finish all of the projects in five years. However, he said, it’s a starting place.

“You have to have a plan,” Gordon said.

The town will submit the capital-improvement plan with its application for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant – state dollars Archer Lodge would use to help buy park land. After initially considering 29 acres next to Archer Lodge Middle School, town leaders are now eyeing 43 acres across from the school, which is on Wendell Road.

The park is one of several multiphase projects included in the capital-improvement plan. It shows the town paying $600,000 to buy the land this fiscal year, $750,000 to develop the first phase in 2017 and $750,000 for the second phase in 2019.

In multiple town surveys, Archer Lodge residents have asked for more recreation space. The Archer Lodge Community Center, an independent nonprofit, currently handles the town’s recreation programs but is limited to the 4.5 acres it owns on Buffalo Road.

The town, formally incorporated in 2009, has helped offset the costs of community recreation programs since 2011. This year, the Archer Lodge Town Council increased its allocation to the nonprofit group from $15,000 to $70,000.

Councilman Carlton Vinson said the community center has not only maxed out its space but also volunteer time and donations. “The town has to step up to fill that void, and that comes at a cost,” he said.

Archer Lodge leaders hope that about $1 million of the $4.4 million in projects can come from grant sources, such as the state parks trust fund.

For the past several years, the town has put away about $50,000 annually for future capital projects and currently has about $300,000 in reserve.

Other projects included in the plan are a $33,000 generator and $25,000 for overflow parking at Town Hall. The town has already paid for the generator and plans to build the parking lot later this year.

The town also plans to add about 1,125 square feet to Town Hall at an estimated cost of $168,000. The building on Buffalo Road has council chambers, a meeting room and offices for Town Clerk Jean Overton and Planning and Zoning Administrator Bob Clark.

A veterans’ memorial, currently being developed by a town committee, will cost about $150,000 in 2017, according to the plan. Archer Lodge, which hopes to pay for the project through donations, has agreed on a conceptual design for the memorial and has set aside about 5,000 square feet next to Town Hall.

Further out, the town plans to build a police station and parking lot for about $500,000 in 2019.

C.L. Gobble, a former town manager and Archer Lodge’s administrative consultant, reminded the council that the capital-improvement plan doesn’t include soft costs, which typically increase the total price tag.

“You get a project and think you know what the number is, but the reality is its going to cost you 30 percent more,” Gobble said.

“Is anyone else feeling chest pain or shooting pain in their left arm,” Councilman Matt Mulhollem quipped after hearing a presentation about the plan.

In other business, the council:

•  Heard a presentation on a proposed 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which includes town planning goals, recommended action items and a future land-use map. The town plans to have a public hearing on the comprehensive plan in March.

•  Recessed Monday’s meeting until 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, when councilmen will discuss the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant further. At the meeting, the town plans to review a site-specific plan for its future park.