Local projects benefit from county capital shuffle

A number of south Charlotte developments are on the list of projects that will be included in upcoming bond packages after leaders warned bonds might not pass if they don’t include more projects in Ballantyne and the suburbs.

County staff recently presented a list of capital improvement projects to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners that was heavy on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College ventures but thin when it came to south Charlotte projects. Though CMS had ranked a number of south Charlotte options high on its list of needed infrastructure issues, projects such as the Ballantyne-area science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) kindergarten through eighth-grade school had fallen off the list of what would be asked for in the first round of bonds.

Now, thanks to restructuring from the county and a new system of how to pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects, not only is the Ballantyne school on the four-year plan, but so are renovations at three local high schools and at Morrison and South County Regional libraries.

“I think it’s good news, and I appreciate the fact that you’ve pulled the rabbit out of your hat and found this money…” Commissioner Bill James, who represents south Mecklenburg on the board, said to county staff.

The proposed STEAM school in Ballantyne would provide overcrowding relief at Ballantyne Elementary, Elon Elementary, Hawk Ridge Elementary, Polo Ridge Elementary, Community House Middle and Jay M. Robinson Middle schools. The county will include $2 million to purchase the land in the fiscal year 2015 bond package and $29 million to build the school in the 2018 bond package.

The Morrison library project, which library staff didn’t have high hopes would make the budget when discussions were held earlier this month, has jumped into the 2015 bond package. The South County library project moved into the 2018 bond package.

“We are pleased to see library projects in Mecklenburg County’s Capital Improvement Plan for FY2015-FY2019,” library officials said in an email to South Charlotte Weekly. “This reflects the library’s positive momentum with our funding partner Mecklenburg County.”

Other south Charlotte projects that were high in the first round of capital investment plan talks remained the same in the list approved this week. Those include renovations at East Mecklenburg, Myers Park and South Mecklenburg high schools.

Both East and South Meck will see additions of a new 30-classroom building, while East Mecklenburg High’s project also will include some renovations and elimination of mobile units and South Mecklenburg’s project also will include a new kitchen and cafeteria building and demolition of the campus’s C and D buildings. The Myers Park project will replace some existing buildings with state-of-of-the-art classrooms, eliminate mobile units and provide renovations to the school’s kitchen and cafeteria.

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