Enhance future Town services by:
- Beginning construction of public safety and recreation administration facilities
- Deciding future Solid Waste strategy
- Preparing for severe weather events that include increased flooding and ice
- Managing 2016 bond funds in clear, transparent process to implement Council adopted community plans (Greenways, Parks, Bike,..) in a timely manner within existing debt capacity
Lance Norris, Public Works Director
Public Safety and Recreation Administration Facilities
At the January 23, 2017 Council business meeting, the Council authorized the Town manager to continue discussions with UNC about a joint development project on university-owned property on the south side of Estes Drive between Airport Drive and Seawell School Road. This project would include a new Town facility, which would house multiple operations including public safety and recreation.
On July 26, the University Board of Trustees approved a lease that sets the groundwork for the Town and University to move forward with a process. The next step is review of the lease and possible approval of a development strategy by the Town Council in Fall 2017 and by the State.
Next steps are to continue to explore the site capacity and characteristics in more detail and work with stakeholders to develop a more detailed plan for the site.
Future Solid Waste Strategy
The Solid Waste Advisory Group (SWAG), which has representatives from the Town of Chapel Hill, Town of Carrboro, Town of Hillsborough, Orange County, UNC Chapel Hill, and UNC Healthcare, is currently focused on completing an interlocal agreement for solid waste management and planning for the community’s long-term solid waste management needs.
Preparation for Severe Weather Events
Current Status - Hazard Mitigation
The Town of Chapel Hill continues to participate in the Eno-Haw Hazard Mitigation Plan, a regional planning effort to identify and reduce risk to natural hazards in order to protect the health safety, quality of life, environment, and economy of the Eno Haw area. The plan was adopted by the Council February 8, 2016, and we participate in annual meetings to review the plan. The last meeting was June 13, 2017.
Current Status - Snow / Ice Preparation
Staff is currently in the final stages of reviewing our revised snow/ ice pretreatment and removal priorities with partners.
In preparation for Winter Storm Helena, staff successfully monitored weather forecasts, communicated with partners, implemented staffing plans, pre-treated all approximately 750 paved town-maintained streets and 20 state secondary streets, and staged additional contractor equipment. This included preparations for the pilot expanded sidewalk snow removal downtown and along Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd.
Communications efforts include preparing key messages (such as snow/ice FAQs) in advance of storms; issuing relevant and timely news and information; and responding to resident questions and concerns via phone calls, emails and social media during and after storms. Communications and Public Affairs (CaPA) is in process of creating an internal communication team to assist these efforts during large scale community emergencies.
Current Status - Stormwater and Flooding
As recommended in the Stormwater Management Master Plan, the Town continues to implement studies of subwatersheds located partially or wholly within the Town limits. Using recommendations of these studies and other known needs, staff will continue to request Council’s approval of infrastructure improvements with the goals to mitigate flooding and improve water quality. At its January 18, 2017 meeting, the Town Council adopted the Lower Booker Creek subwatershed study and recommendations and authorized the Town Manager to proceed with the final design, permitting, and construction of up to five top priority projects identified in the study.
The Town recently bought out three flood-prone properties, and we are proceeding with demolition. (A fourth property was considered for buyout, but the cost exceeded the threshold for acquisition.)
The Town did not submit an interest this year for FEMA mitigation grants based on the predicted availability of funds. The Town recently learned that no mitigation grant funds would be available due to current FEMA response/ recovery efforts.
Capital Program and Bond Fund Management
In 2015, Chapel Hill voters approved a $40.3 million general obligation (G.O.) bond referendum to fund streets and sidewalks, trails and greenways, recreation facilities, solid waste options, and stormwater improvements.
At the January 18, 2017 Council business meeting, the Council authorized the issuance of $9 million of referendum bonds, as follows:
- Streets and Sidewalks $3 million
- Trails and Greenways $5 million.
- Parks and Recreation $1 million.
Annual debt service for these bonds will be about $625,000.The Town is currently planning for the second bond sale, tentatively scheduled for Spring 2018.
The Town has contracted with engineering firm Freese and Nichols to evaluate and develop tools and processes for the management of the Town’s overall capital program. Recommendations for next steps include developing resources and training for capital project managers, mapping and tweaking our processes related to capital program management, and implementing a project management software tool to track project information.