City of Winchester Has Two Major Capital Projects on the Horizon

By Benjamin Cox on December 3, 2021 at 5:59pm

The City of Winchester is looking for grants to help fund two major capital projects in the near future.

Greg Hillis of Benton & Associates alerted the Winchester City Council on Wednesday that the city is in need of replacing several thousand linear feet of existing water lines: “We have talked about the USDA and the water mains [in the past] as far as a loan agreement and what we need to do. I met with [Public Works Superintendent] John Simmons one day and we walked through and looked at the whole city. He’s got great documentation of all of the water mains that’s under-sized and problems throughout. You’re looking at, if we look at them all, there’s about 11,000 lineal feet of water main that could be replaced throughout the City of Winchester.”

Mayor Rex McIntire says that some of the water mains and lines are original to the city’s water system: “It’s obvious that we have a lot of older mains in the community. We have been replacing some, but we have some that were put in when the system was put in originally in 1914. There are several that are in need, and obviously, again, we don’t have the money to do it without help. We will be applying for grants and low-interest loans in order to replace the ones that are in dire need of replacing.”

Hillis told the council on Wednesday he would be starting the grant application on the city’s behalf with the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office within the next few weeks.

Hillis also alerted the council that it was time to take another shot at a major grant to get their downtown square repaved. Hills says several million dollars are currently open through the USDA once again: “The downtown square grant – the application is out there now. Total funds available are $50 million. The minimum grant amount is $250,000 and the maximum grant is $3 million. No match if you are considered a community, which you are. If you do want to look at doing the downtown grant, we would be more than happy to assist you in that with the application. We have seen the application, and to submit that would be in the $3,500-$4,200 range. It is tied to Covid relief, and I think it is something that we can show that all of the downtown area was hurt during the Covid shutdowns, business-wise. This has to be a bondable project, so it cannot just be a resurface. It’s going to have to be a remove-and-replace of the pavement.”

McIntire says it’s a project he has worked on since his previous term; and it’s an item that the city has wanted to complete for several decades: “I’ve been pushing for it for 2 or 3 years. Obviously, nobody has gone through this situation like we’ve had in the last year and a half. We don’t know yet, but we aren’t going to be able to do it unless we get the money. Right now, we are just applying for the money and trying to get that grant that’s available.”

The city attempted to get the grant last year but was unsuccessful. Hillis told the city council that the project bid for the resurfacing was close to $1.7 million, but with current issues with the supply chain and rising material costs due to inflation, the project would likely cost more than $2 million to complete.