Bedford 5-year improvement plan details more than $28 million in spending

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BEDFORD COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Supervisors in Bedford got their first look Monday night at a county capital improvement plan that would invest more than 28 million dollars in repairing and improving buildings throughout the county.

It includes millions of dollars for a renovation of the courthouse and parks and recreation facility, as well as a multi-million dollar expansion to one of the library branches.

By far, the county's most ambitious proposal is to replace the county administration building here in the Town of Bedford, with a price of 11 million dollars, but it's just one of several plans to try to find an answer to the county's aging and inadequate infrastructure.

County Supervisors watched Monday as Assistant Administrator Reid Wodicka displayed images of the E-911 Call Center and Administration Building, both showing signs of significant wear after decades of use.

"We have a number of infrastructure issues related to county facilities that need to be addressed. Throughout the county there's buildings and facilities that have been around a long time and are in need of some repair," said Wodicka.

But amidst the discussion of the Capital Improvement Plan or CIP, one proposal from the county library caught supervisors by surprise.

The Forest Branch is asking for more than three million dollars to expand the facility.

Library Director Jenny Novalis explained why.

"We looked at the numbers, and this past year, we've had a jump of 140 percent increase in the number of people attending our children's programs at this branch alone," said Novalis.

And like many county buildings, Novalis says the library could use some work.

"The building is getting older, so this building and the Moneta Library were built at the same time, and were roughly the same square footage, but this one has more usage," said Novalis.

The Bedford Chamber of Commerce says, often planned expansions, like the library is proposing, can be just as important as repairs.

"Improvements to things like our healthcare services, our libraries, our parks and rec, and our business parks are extremely important to be providing services and programs that are an attraction to, not only businesses, but attraction to folks relocating to the area as well," said President Susan Martin.

It will now be up to supervisors to weigh the importance of projects like Novalis', and determine how much, if any, funding the library could see in the next five years.

None of the spending proposals laid out in the CIP are set in stone right now, and Wodicka says it could be several months before supervisors begin to make decisions on where that money should be allocated.