Help to Prioritize and Address Our Community’s Most Pressing Infrastructure Needs
Since i3 (Putting Children First Infrastructure Investment Initiative) launched in Fall 2016, the i3 Steering Committee has been gathering information via research, in-person meetings, presentations and other dialogues to identify Alachua County’s greatest infrastructure needs. The information gathered validates that Alachua County’s current infrastructure needs are significant, affect citizens every day and exceed the resources available to address them. For example:
- First responders need updated equipment to optimally protect us and themselves. The portable communication system used by police officers, firefighters, GRU linemen and public works field staff is so outdated that radios don’t work in certain buildings—including many public schools—or rural areas. When some of the towers need replacement parts, it is necessary to purchase them on ebay because manufacturers have stopped producing compatible parts.
- The buildings where Alachua County K-12 students go to learn are in need of repairs and updates. Currently, most Alachua County K-12 students attend schools in need of significant repairs and/or upgrades. For example, the i3 Steering Committee recently toured classrooms that have to be sandbagged when it rains and saw some very antiquated science labs, among other issues. As of February 2017, $18.6 million was needed just for the School Board to catch up on deferred maintenance to roofs, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, painting, and flooring. Even if that funding were available, another $6.5 million would be needed annually just to keep up with regular maintenance on those items. Neither of these figures include the funds needed for hundreds of both minor and major projects involving new construction, renovations or remodeling that need to be done in our district’s schools.
- We need five times the available funding for road maintenance and improvements to avoid tripling the cost of some projects. The annual $3 million in funding for road resurfacing would need to increase five-fold to ensure we have the option to resurface all roads currently in need of repair. After a certain time period in need of resurfacing, a road begins to degrade to the point where it must be reconstructed. The cost to reconstruct a failed road is three times that of resurfacing it.
- We are making progress with parks and recreation, but still have much work to do. Despite $50 million going toward parks, recreation and cultural affairs via the Wild Spaces, Public Places surtax, approximately $30 million of projects will remain unfunded.
i3 is a citizen-driven initiative. For it to work as intended, we need the public to get educated about the needs the Steering Committee has learned about, hear from the leaders who oversee these areas and share their ideas about how they think Alachua County should balance and prioritize these competing needs.
At the next i3 Public Forum, Alachua County Public Schools Facilities and Planning Manager Vicki McGrath will provide an overview of the infrastructural needs of Alachua County’s K-12 school facilities. We hope you will RSVP and join us to discuss this important topic on May 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the UF Health Cancer Hospital, South Tower, 1st floor, 1515 SW Archer Rd. Light refreshments will be available. Want more information on what to expect? Check out this recap of the first i3 Public Forum.
Questions? Contact Grassroots Engagement Manager Vicki Gervickas at Vicki@gainesvillechamber.com.