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Salem council approves funding for field house, greenway extension

Salem council approves funding for field house, greenway extension

Proposed Salem High School Field House_2.jpg

A rendering shows proposed renovations to the Salem High School field house.

Funding for two major projects in Salem is now approved, though one will be completed much sooner than the other.

The City Council voted to approve funding for an expansion of the field house at the high school and approved the funding of a greenway extension that will connect the city’s Mason Creek Greenway to its Hanging Rock Trail.

The $3.7 million field house expansion will largely be funded by the school system’s budget, particularly from its capital projects fund, which is comprised of leftover money from the school budget at the end of every fiscal year.

The city will pitch in approximately $400,000, though it could get the money back from the school system if it receives any additional COVID-19 relief money that can go towards the project, Mayor Renee Turk said at a Monday meeting.

The current field house was completed shortly after the high school was built in the late 1970s when it was still part of Roanoke County, but upgrades to the facility have been limited, according to school officials.

The school system will update its renovation project currently underway at the high school to include the field house, which will save about $300,000 in costs, according to school officials.

“The cost savings associated with having G&H [Contracting] onsite right now as opposed to having to bid it out and have another construction company mobilize and come in with another superintendent on site and manage the job would give us about a 10% cost savings,” Superintendent Curtis Hicks said late last month.

The field house expansion will more than double the building’s current size of 10,000 square feet, ensuring that all of the school’s athletic teams have a space on campus, Hicks has said.

The project includes adding another weight room, additional locker rooms, expanded training room space and additional storage space and will likely take about a year to complete once ground is broken in the coming months, according to school officials.

While the council approved approximately $2.6 million in funding for the trail extension, construction is not likely to begin until the summer of 2024, according to Chuck Van Allman, the city’s director of community development.

The funds, awarded to the city through VDOT’s Smart Scale program, will not be released to the city until 2024, he said.

“The project is still in its infancy stages,” Van Allman said Tuesday afternoon. “The city was only notified in the last few months that it received the grant money.”

Van Allman said the city needed to go ahead and allocate the funds for the project to show VDOT it was serious about getting the connector done.

Mason Creek Greenway Phase 3, as the project is currently known, will begin at the intersection of East Main Street and Kessler Mill Road, where the Hanging Rock Trail currently ends, according to city plans. It will consist of a combination of sidewalk and bike lanes along East Main Street and Electric Road, ultimately connecting to the existing Mason Creek Greenway, which goes behind the former GE building at Lynchburg Turnpike. It will also include pedestrian signal improvements and ADA ramps.

Additionally, it will connect the new Electric Road multi-use path to a new sidewalk along Texas Street, which will connect to another ongoing project, the Elizabeth Campus Greenway at Lynchburg Turnpike, city engineer Josh Pratt wrote in an email.

The project aims to also improve current crosswalks and bus stops along the new route, but is still in the early stages, having just received proposals from engineering consultants, he wrote.

The Mason Creek Greenway is currently just under a mile and the Hanging Rock Trail is approximately two miles.

The project could be subject to future changes, according to Pratt.

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