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City Council tables plans for new park

November 28, 2012 12:10 am

BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY

The Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday delayed plans to move forward with Riverfront Park.

The council had the option to approve awarding a contract for design plans, but the action was tabled.

In a work session before the meeting, council members had a heated discussion about the timing of moving forward with the park. The discussion continued in the council's regular meeting.

Council member George Solley, who has been involved with the project for several years and is on the Riverfront Park Task Force, pointed out that the council made it one of its top priorities for the next two years during the council's recent retreat.

In the fiscal 2013 budget, $200,000 was allocated for the design of the park.

The contract--which is proposed to be awarded to Alexandria-based Rhodeside and Harwell--would cost the city $99,656 for the plans plus $7,062 to present it at no more than three Architectural Review Board meetings.

Council members Matt Kelly and Brad Ellis said they had concerns about spending money on designs for a project that would not be completed in the next two years.

In addition, Kelly and council member Fred Howe had concerns about the costs that the project--once it comes to fruition--would bring.

Council member Bea Paolucci, who made the motion to table the action, said she wanted more time to discuss the project, since it was added to the work session agenda "at the eleventh hour."

City Manager Beverly Cameron said it could be discussed at the council's next work session on Dec. 11 and put back on the council agenda at the first meeting in January.

Solley praised the reputation of the firm selected unanimously by a subcommittee of the Riverfront Park Task Force, and said that the council needs to consider its business relationship--with that firm and others the city will do business with in the future.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, five speakers voiced support for the city to move forward with plans for the park.

One of the speakers was Anne Little, the founder of Tree Fredericksburg and a member of the city's Clean and Green Commission.

"We need a real park," she said, as opposed to the interim park there now.

"We need this. This is going to be a real jewel in our crown."

The other speakers echoed the same sentiments about the positive impact the park would have on the city.

The council members who wanted the plans tabled said they weren't against the park, just the idea of moving forward and getting designs when the funding to actually build it isn't in place yet.

In other action, the council approved funding that would help provide an expansion at Hugh Mercer Elementary School. The expansion will cost about $2.5 million.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413
Email: rsidersky@freelancestar.com





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