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Leland officials will begin their budget discussions for 2013-14 at noon, Friday, Feb. 1.
“The town hall that is being built and the cultural arts center are the big ticket items,” town manager David Hollis said. “We also want to consider in the upcoming year park properties. The gateway rezoning is an opportunity to provide incentives to lead the charge to it becoming a reality.”
Town hall construction began in late June and is anticipated to be complete by November. The new building will house all town departments and a new Leland Police Department.
“We can bring people who are in four different locations together in one building,” Hollis said. “And there is plenty of room to grow.”
At the January town council meeting staff proposed renovating a town-owned, 18,000-square-foot shell building to use as a cultural arts center.
The building is planned as an arts hub with a stage/auditorium for public events and rooms for woodworking, pottery and painting/visual arts classrooms as well as a catering kitchen, a gallery and administrative offices.
Council members will have to decide how quickly they want to move forward on the project.
“There is a lot of excitement about the whole facility. It will be unique to this end of the county,” Hollis said.
The council budgeted $250,000 for site improvements last year, money that was not used. They could do the same again in the 2013-14 budget to prepare for financing the renovation.
The project is estimated to cost about $1.55 million. If the town financed the project for 15 years, the annual costs could come to $150,000 a year.
Leland Parks and Recreation is preparing for the opening of the Westgate Nature Park but the town council could consider expansion. The new park is considered Phase 1 of a larger park project.
The park is off Westgate Drive behind Walmart on U.S. 17.
The nature park winds south from Westgate Drive down to a wetlands area, covering about 3 acres, with a third-of-a-mile asphalt trail that leads from the entrance to a raised wooden boardwalk.
The council could extend the trail along land donated to the town.
The council could also consider a cross-country trail planned to connect to the Brunswick County Nature park which is about 10 miles south of the Leland park.
“It’s a long-term project. The council would have to decide if it is something the town wants to engage in quicker than (previously envisioned),” Hollis said.
Town staff intends to pursue grants for any parks projects, but officials can also consider earmarking funds.
“If they want to pour more money into a certain pot, we need to know,” Hollis said.
There are other park projects that aren’t as ambitious, boat ramps or kayak launches, a dog park or splash park for children.
“Nothing is settled, “ Hollis said.
He said the discussion on gateway rezoning along Village Road would consider ideas of how to implement it sooner than later.
Hollis said the council could consider financial incentives or prioritizing development using the town’s FlexCode zoning.
“The town could drive implementation by offering anything that would make development easier,” Hollis said.
Hollis also wants to get the vision of future needs from each department.
Town staff has set aside five hours, from 12-5 p.m., Friday for the initial discussions.
After the February workshop, a second meeting could be scheduled for April before formal budget meetings are set for May to finalize the budget for a vote in late June. The 2013-14 fiscal year begins July 1.
Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.