“We need to get off the pot and move forward with this,” Mayor Hollis Tharpe told the Front Royal Town Council at a February 5 work session. The object of the mayor’s attempt to propel timely movement from his colleagues was the wastewater pumping station that will serve, not only the first commercial client at the former Avtex Superfund site, but essentially the first half of commercial redevelopment in the site’s 147-acre Royal Phoenix Business Park.
Late in 2017, council began dragging its feet on the estimated $300,000 to $400,000 cost of a project the previous town manager and council appeared committed to. Work session discussion last fall even resurrected the idea the Town might be better served if the site’s first commercial client, tech and government contractor ITFederal, build its own pumping station to serve its needs.
That idea faded only when EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald reminded council that $150,000 ITFederal committed to construction of Phase One of the West Main Street access/connector road through the site came after the apparent Town commitment to construct a wastewater pumping station to serve multiple customers on the north half of the Royal Phoenix site.
With phase one of its access road plan now in place, Town Manager Joe Waltz told a January 18 liaison committee meeting that the Town was poised to move forward on the pumping station project. EDA staff had cited delays to the start of ITFederal construction last year as the Town’s plan for phase one of the West Main Extended access road was awaited, followed by hesitation on a decision about the pumping station.
However with the road plan in and plans for the pumping station being developed, progress at the ITFederal site has re-emerged with footers being laid as February began.
Queried about the status of the pumping station following the February 5 council work session update, Waltz elaborated on existing cost estimates. The base cost for the pumping station is $161,000. However, factoring in other infrastructure variables, including stormwater facilities and drains; water and force mains, the cost climbs into the originally-estimated $300,000 to $400,000 range, now cited at some loose change ($2.50 to be precise) under $336,000. The Town will recoup much in costs from hook up and tap fees.
Waltz said an earlier estimate the Town-constructed pumping station would serve about seven commercial pads and 4,200 people at Royal Phoenix remains accurate. He also said that while the eventual connection of the new FRPD headquarters to the pumping station is a goal, an alternate plan to initially hook the police facility into existing wastewater infrastructure in the area was now on the table.
Initial infrastructure costs
Town staff is estimating initial Royal Phoenix infrastructure costs in the $1.2 million range. Previous work session and meeting discussions have indicated the Town has about $450,000 set aside, primarily for the West Main Street extended project. Those annual set-aside tax revenues (about a third of a penny of real estate tax) were an initiative pushed by former Vice-Mayor Shae Parker about four to five years ago.
There was an original $2.5-million to $3-million estimate for the entire West Main Extended access road project, with the first phase now forecast at $1.3 million. However, projected VDOT matching funds, as well as ITFederal’s $150,000 commitment reduce the Town’s initial on-site road infrastructure share into the ballpark of its set aside funds – plus that $336,000 pumping station investment.