Proposed Chatham 2018-24 Capital Improvement Plan presented to commissioners

Pittsboro, NC- The Chatham County Manager’s Office presented the proposed Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for fiscal year 2018-24 to the Board of Commissioners on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016 at a special meeting. The CIP is a long-term plan for major capital needs over $100,000.

building constructionA public hearing on the proposed CIP was slated for Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at 6 pm as part of the Board of Commissioners regular session in the Historic Courthouse in Pittsboro. To view the proposed CIP, visit the county website at You also can view printed copies at the three library branches (Pittsboro, Goldston and Siler City starting November 17, 2016.

The majority of changes or new projects are K-12 school facilities. A key revision is expanding the capacity of the new high school, already in the CIP, which is slated to open in August of 2021. The initial capacity would be 1,200 students (up from 1,000) and its core capacity would be 1,400 students (up from 1,200).

Updated student enrollment projections from the Operations Research and Education Laboratory (OREd) at NC State University indicate that, even with the new high school at the 1,000 students/1,200 core level, Northwood High School will be over capacity by 2024.  It is less costly to expand the planned new high school than to expand Northwood High at an estimated cost of $25-27 million. An additional $9.37 million has been added in the proposed CIP to enlarge the capacity of the new high school.

The proposed CIP also includes a new Central Services Building for Chatham County Schools to open in the summer of 2022. The existing building in Pittsboro is so crowded that the school system is using space at Horton Middle School for these functions, but the school will need that space by 2020-21. The new administration building will cost an estimated $5.6 million.

Other smaller school system changes or new projects in the proposed CIP:

*         Make improvements to the traffic pattern at Perry Harrison Elementary due to increased student enrollment, which has led to major traffic backups on Hamlet Chapel Road. The estimated cost is $423,000 for work to be completed in 2018-19.

*         Add Northwood High to the locker room renovation schedule for several schools already in the CIP at a cost of $360,000. This originally was going to be part of the Northwood High expansion, which is no longer under consideration. All locker rooms will be completed by 2020-21.

*         Increase funding for mobile classrooms to meet projected student enrollment growth at a cost of $480,000. Four modular were purchased and installed in the summer of 2015. Eight more will be purchased through 2019-20..

*         Increase the budgeted amount by $60,000 for repairs to the heating and air conditioning system at Northwood’s auditorium, based on estimates received. The repairs will be made in 2017-18.

*         Add funding of $189,002 to include major repairs of paving at Northwood in 2018-2019.

*         Replace the wastewater system at Silk Hope School.  The current system is located partially on privately-owned land.  The new system will meet Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requirements for a system located entirely on school property and will be a more efficient system.  The estimated cost is $643,500, and the project is scheduled to be complete in 2023.
The proposed CIP includes several non-school revisions or additions. A major addition is the adding the renovation of the old Agriculture Building to the Annex Building renovations project, at a cost of $3.1 million. Based on a space study, the Tax Office will outgrow its space in the Annex Building within a few years.  The Agriculture Building renovations will occur during 2018-19 and will give the Tax Office sufficient space for 15-20 years.

Other new or revised non-school projects in the proposed CIP are:

*         Add the replacement of audiovisual equipment in the new Agriculture & Conference Center for 2023-24 to keep the equipment updated, at a cost of $465,850.

*         Purchase body cameras for sworn officers and detention personnel in the Sheriff’s Office. The cameras will be purchased over a three-year period (2017-20). Some cost savings will be derived from detention officers sharing cameras. Grant funds will help cover costs, but the net cost to the county is estimated at $151,519.

*         Increase the budget by $93,119 for the Park at Briar Chapel to cover the cost of a building a playground, walking trail and picnic shelter in 2017-18, with funding from recreations fees paid by the Briar Chapel Development.

*         Increase the CIP budget for 2017-18 by $16,410 for new software for the Department of Social Services to cover reductions in state reimbursement.

Two other projects are shown in the new proposed CIP as future projects not yet funded, but will be added when funding is identified:

*         Other new schools, expansions of existing schools, or the addition of modular classrooms  to handle growth in student population.

*         Major repairs of pavement at all K-12 schools.

One project proposed for removal from the CIP due to high costs exceeding the budget is the addition of bike lanes on two roads in northeast Chatham. NC Department of Transportation has indicated that the county’s cost would be $1.16 million due to acquiring right-of-way from owners. This is much higher than previous estimate of $403,000.