Having won city voters’ approval to issue $97 million in bonds to address infrastructure, housing and public safety concerns, the Fayetteville City Council on Dec. 12 began planning exactly how the money will be spent.
The council on Monday night heard a presentation by city administrators about the next steps in the bond projects that voters passed in the November election.
The administrators were seeking input and guidance from council members.
“We have three working groups that we have created in connection with these three projects,” Assistant City Manager Adam Lindsay said.
Sheila Thomas-Ambat, the city’s public services director, talked first about the $25 million in infrastructure bonds that voters approved.
“That was a 67% approval, which was the highest,” she said of the election results. “We want to thank the community for speaking and their vote of confidence in us in delivering.
Plans are to spend $15 million on street resurfacing based on a 2022 survey.
“We plan to bring to this council in approximately February the streets that we anticipate resurfacing,” Thomas-Ambat said. “And those streets will be selected from the 2022 pavement condition survey. We estimate a total of 63 miles of city streets that will be resurfaced.”
Thomas-Ambat said the improvements will be a full resurfacing and the city will not use preservation methods that have previously been discussed with the council.
The resurfacing is expected to take three years, she said.
Lee Jernigan, the city’s traffic engineer, then spoke about the $8 million in sidewalks, bike lanes and intersection improvements that are part of the infrastructure package.
“Currently, what we proposed would be selected from council’s adopted pedestrian plan and some projects that were already located in the council’s five-year capital improvement plans,” Jernigan said.
That would include about 14.5 miles of sidewalks, he said.
“And just to inform folks on how (we) determined the methodology for selection, it was basically connectivity, and you can see that included schools, commercial centers and public facilities. Safety and constructability were also a component because, obviously, some things are easier to build than others and less costly.”
The bond package included roughly $1.25 million for Intersection improvement projects, but some of those have been paid for with federal and state funding. Jernigan said the council could chose to reassign that funding or identify additional intersections for improvements.
Chris Cauley, the city’s economic and community development director, then discussed plans for the housing bond funding.
“We already have housing development programs underway,” Cauley said of the voter-approved $12 million bond package. “It’s to put the lion’s share into rental development. So, we know we have a significant amount of households paying too much for rent right now. … We have housing development needs that are stacked up.”
“These projects that we’re looking at doing that are a little bit out of the box from what we’ve been doing the last 20 years, they’re going to cost $4 million to $5 million in gap financing from the city. So this lets us take advantage of a couple of those projects we’ve never really had the ability to secure before and bring those here.”
Gap financing is financial assistance in the form of a loan to cover a gap in time, funding or negotiations.
The plan includes single-family homes, Cauley said.
“We’ll be looking for a development partner to help us build some modest homes for folks to move into, especially new families and early professionals,” he said. “This would be like construction financing and helping if there’s a gap between the appraised value of the home and what the home actually cost to build. Because sometimes when you’re building a modest home, that could be a challenge, depending on the location.”
Portions of the bond money also have been earmarked for housing rehabilitation and down payment assistance, he said.
Cauley said the city staff will report back to the council in February to help explain “this very complex stuff a little bit better.”
With that, Rob Stone, the city’s construction management director, briefly discussed the $60 million in public safety improvement bonds.
The priority for the Fayetteville Police Department is a proposed 911 call center. For the Fire Department, it’s three fire stations: Nos. 16, 9 and 2.
“These were brought forth from the 2019 study for public safety and also discussion with the Fire Department and Police Department as prioritized items,” Stone said. “What we’re looking for is — again, with the council consensus of project prioritization — is to what the council is looking for with this bond. The big item is the 911 center.”
He anticipates presenting more specific plans to the City Council in March or April, he said.