Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series on round two of Aiken County’s Capital Projects Sales Tax program. Round two of the program is drawing to a close, and local government administrators are transitioning into round three, which was approved by voters in 2010. Round two was approved by voters in 2004. Today, the Aiken Standard takes a look at the projects in the City of Aiken that were slated for sales tax funding. This series will continue in the Tuesday and Wednesday editions.
Complete list of projects for the City of Aiken
• $700,000 for a connector road from Dougherty Road to the WalMart – completed fall of 2011• $745,000 for parking lot and landscaping for the new convocation center at USC- Aiken – complete• $250,000 for new pumper truck for new Southside Public Safety substation – complete• $700,000 for new ladder truck for new Southside Public Safety substation – complete• $1,750,000 to continue street resurfacing program – complete • $1,750,000 for infrastructure and housing capital improvements associated with a housing facility for low to moderate income families in the Northside Neighborhood Renewal Project – complete• $170,000 for Historic Pinelawn Cemetery for streetscaping, landscaping, fencing and roadway improvements – complete • $4,200,000 for storm water/sanitary sewer/water infrastructure improvements – complete$3,500,000 for erosion control and drainage projects in Hitchcock Woods – planning under way• $150,000 for Citizens Park parking lot and landscaping – construction phase• $100,000 for restrooms at Citizens Park – design work under way• $700,000 Whiskey Road improvements including drainage, curbing, sidewalks and landscaping – complete• $875,000 to continue the lighting, curbing, sidewalks and landscaping program – complete• $1,000,000 for construction of parks and acquisition of land for greenways and open space – planning stage• $1,500,000 for the construction of a maintenance center at Citizens Park – should receive bids in March • $200,000 for parking and to provide lighting, curbing, sidewalks and landscaping to Bee Lane from the Alley to Richland Avenue – complete• $700,000 to expand the Public Works complex – complete• $600,000 to expand the Public Safety Building – planning under way• $1,400,000 to place electric lines underground in the downtown area – complete• $1,000,000 to purchase land and begin development of a senior/youth center in the Eustis Park Neighborhood – in the design stages• $1,000,000 to begin work on a Whiskey Road/Powderhouse Road connector – complete• $2,750,000 for the construction of a Northside recreational park on the City’s former landfill – in the design stages• $100,000 for the construction of an environmental meeting center in connection with the Carolina Bay – completed fall of 2012• $200,000 for the provision of band shell over the stage at Hopelands Gardens – complete• $325,000 to conduct a study and purchase right-of-way for a parallel connector road along Whiskey Road from Centennial Parkway to a new east/west connector road – complete • $350,000 for a connector road from Dougherty Road to the Aiken Mall – working to acquire land• $150,000 for a Dougherty Road Corridor study – complete (study is under way)• $250,000 for a Northside roadway study – complete• $100,000 for a Citizens Park walking trail – completed in fall of 2010• $50,000 for mobile bleachers for use at the Newberry Street, Festival Center. Citizens Park or Virginia Acres – complete• $210,000 for the construction of public bike paths to be located on public property – planning under way• $175,000 for a mobile stage to be used at the Newberry Street Festival Center, Citizens Park or Virginia Acres – complete• $100,000 for capital improvements at the Public Safety Training grounds – complete• $250,000 for the construction of a splash park – design stage
Round II of the Capital Project Sales Tax is wrapping up, and the City of Aiken still has a little bit of work to do with those funds.
The City has received approximately $30 million in Capital Project Sales Tax funds as of Dec. 31 with $19,974,731.13 spent. City Manager Richard Pearce said that almost everything on the referendum approved by residents in 2004 has been complete except for a few projects that are in different phases of planning.
“All funds are committed at this point, and while some projects have cost more than estimated, we are pursuing reimbursement of those overages where possible,” said Pearce in an email. “We believe we have committed funds to finish the list.”
Some of those remaining projects include greenways and open space, the Public Safety building expansion, bike paths, the Northside Landfill redevelopment, the Eustis Park Senior and Youth Center, the Citizen’s Park splash pad and additional bathrooms and the Hitchcock Woods erosion control.
During the Annual Horizons Retreat, City Council was updated on the status of those projects. According to Engineering and Utilities Director Larry Morris, the much-anticipate splash pad, which had $250,000 designated, should be designed this month and bids received in March.
Morris said the City is aiming to have construction on both the splash pad and the additional restrooms, with $100,000 designated, begin this spring.
The Eustis Park Development and the Northside Recreation Park have been delayed because some of some decisions that are being contemplated for Willow Run Park.
Pearce said, in these economic times, Capital Project Sales Tax funds are vital in helping local government making infrastructure improvements, build parks and more.
“This cent enables us to kind of go the extra mile in providing amenities and services that the public wants,” Pearce said. “The beauty of this one-cent Capital Project Sales Tax is that everybody contributes because everybody tends to use these services and facilities at some point. It just remains the cent that makes sense.”
The transition of round two to round three has commenced. Some projects of the third round of the sales tax are already under way or have been completed.
Those projects include purchasing mobile vehicle computers for Aiken Public Safety, Governor Aiken Park playground equipment, the all-accessible library playground, work in the water and sewer infrastructure, the continuing partnership with the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare by locating the City’s animal control in the nonprofit’s new facility and the expansion of the Municipal Building by purchasing and refurbishing a building on Laurens Street.
Funds for those projects were approved to be advanced from the reserve funds, which will be replenished when the sales tax money is received.
The third round of sales tax money is already being collected, but the City may not see any of those funds until the end of this year or early 2014.
STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON Landfill on Beaufort Avenue that the City of Aiken plans to convert into a recreational park.×
STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON The new observation deck at the Carolina Bay, located on Price Avenue.×
STAFF PHOTO BY AMY BANTON Present to witness the ribbon-cutting to the new observation deck at the Carolina Bay was, from left, City Manager Richard Pearce, City Councilman Steve Homoki, Aiken Land Conservancy’s Dr. Harry Shealy, City Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, Aiken County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Everett and Aiken Land Conservancy President Larry Comegys.×