City of Fitchburg

Two of the six proposed amendments from alders on the city’s 10-year plan for capital expenses would affect projects that cost more than $5 million each.

One would delay expanding the police station and move it into a single $14 million project. The other would accelerate the reconstruction of a well-traveled intersection that is expected to experience significant development in the next few years.

The proposals to the city’s capital improvement plan were published on it’s website July 31. A public hearing on the amendments is planned for the Aug. 13 Common Council meeting, followed by discussion and votes on each amendment and the overall plan.

The CIP outlines potential upcoming major capital projects to give staff and elected officials a chance to prepare for large expenditures. It does not lock in any spending, but helps set the baseline for the upcoming year’s budget discussion, which is in the fall.

Mayor Aaron Richardson proposed a drop of more than $2 million in spending from 2019 to 2020 in his CIP proposal published in May, with $23.2 million on 2020 projects. It recommends an annual drop in spending through 2023.

Among its proposed expenditures are $1.6 million in planning for an addition to the Fitchburg Police Department station in 2020 and $6.4 million for construction of a new facility in 2024, with an anticipated additional investment in 2030. Last year, Mayor Jason Gonzalez had proposed a $25 million facility to be completed in 2022.

For the 2019 CIP, Ald. Dan Bahr (Dist. 2) proposed an amendment to delay the planning and return it to a single-phase project with no investment necessary in 2030. It would save the $1.6 million this year and add $1.5 million for planning in 2022, with $9.25 million in 2023 and $2.85 million in 2024 for construction costs.

Ald. Tom Clauder (D-4) proposed the other major amendment, which would move up construction on the Lacy Road-Seminole Highway intersection to 2021-22. Richardson had planned it for 2023-24, but Clauder’s amendment description cited “the anticipated increase in traffic,” as a reason to accelerate it.

It would not change the budget allocated for the project, with $920,385 in 2021 and $5.22 million in 2022.

The initial project description does not prescribe whether the four-way stop would become a roundabout or a stoplight; state law requires roundabouts be considered when major intersections are rebuilt. It would also reconstruct Lacy Road from a rural to an urban section west of the intersection to Savanna Oaks Middle School and Seminole Highway south of the intersection to Schumann Street.

According to a staff memo, moving up the Lacy-Seminole reconstruction would push back a reconstruction project on Fitchrona Road beyond 2023, as “Seminole and Fitchrona cannot be closed down at the same time.”

Other proposed amendments include adding a drone program for multiple departments back into the plan in 2021 and beyond, additional funding in 2020 for resurfacing streets in the Briarwood neighborhood, funding to complete the Dunn’s Marsh recreational circuit sometime in 2025-29 and removing $25,000 of funding for the Verona Road Business Coalition in 2021.

Amendment proposals

Project Alder 2020 $ impact 2021-29 $ impact
Drone program Arata-Fratta No change $87,106
Police Station Addition Bahr ($1.6 million) $12 million
Briarwood street resurfacing Clauder $250,000 No change
Lacy-Seminole intersection Clauder No change No change
VRBC funding removal Arata-Fratta No change ($25,000)
Dunn’s Marsh recreation circuit Krause No change $250,000