The Suffolk County Legislature hopes to borrow more than $70 million over the next three years to fund capital improvements and educational expansion initiatives, including projects from Riverside to Southold Town.
The 2015-17 Capital Program budget, which passed June 3, calls for borrowing $72.3 million more for countywide capital projects than last year’s adopted three-year program.
Borrowing money over a three-year period would finance the projects, said Robert Lipp, director of the budget review office at the county Legislature. The debt schedule calls for borrowing $23.9 million in 2015, $27.1 million in 2016 and $21.3 million in 2017.
Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said many of the capital improvements need to be funded to prevent more costly repairs in the future, though he admitted the newly passed capital budget continues the county’s “culture of borrowing.”
Mr. Krupski, who served on the county’s nine-member capital budget committee, said fellow legislators cut back on more than 70 projects before submitting the final recommendation.
Each pending project is still subject to further review to determine if any trimming can be done prior to the start of construction, Mr. Krupski said.
Here’s the local level breakdown of those projects:
The North Fork Preserve
The county proposes spending an additional $900,000 on “significant” upgrades around the park, specifically to recharge the basin to remedy a drainage issue, according to the draft budget.
The project would consist of two phases: building two drainage systems on the park property, which is expected to be completed this year, and installing a third and final drainage system in the park, to be completed in 2016.
Riverside traffic circle
To help improve safety and congestion on Route 24, the county proposes to move forward with plans to redesign the Riverside traffic circle. They are requesting $4 million in funding for its construction in 2017, according to the draft-spending plan.
The county has already appropriated $3 million toward acquiring the land, which is expected to move forward in 2015. However, that sum doesn’t include construction funds.
Additional funding provided for the project will study the best options for re-routing traffic through the downtown area.
Cornell Wildlife Rescue and Education, Marine Science Center
The county wants to spend roughly $150,000 to improve the existing Cornell Cooperative Extension in Southold, which doesn’t have heat or plumbing and is currently used as a storage facility.
Cornell plans to use the structure for classrooms, offices and logistical support for environmental programs, according to the budget draft.
The building was finished in 2006 and a permanent electrical hookup was installed in 2010. However, it still lacks basic infrastructure. The new construction would provide additional infrastructure and interior improvements to complete the building.
The county is requesting funding to install bathrooms and provide heat and hot water so that the building can house environmental classrooms and logistical shoreside support for county-funded water quality and habitat programs.
Hashamomuck Cove Restoration
The county hopes to appropriate $500,000 in FEMA aid to study erosion at Hashamomuck Cove in Southold.
The money would pay for the county’s portion of The Army Corps of Engineers’ $5 million study to develop plans to mitigate the erosion of the shoreline near Route 48 and Middle Road.
Southold road repairs
The proposed capital budget calls for an additional $500,000 to be spent on road repairs in Southold.
The project aims to improve travel and safety along some of the most heavily traveled roadways and improve storm water removal, the draft plan states.
This program funds the reconstruction of Route 48 in four phases: roadway reconstruction and drainage improvements, including a recharge basin; roadway reconstruction; and realignment from Ruch Lane to Chapel Lane, Horton Lane to Grove Road and Mill Lane to Peconic Lane.
Read the full budget below: