COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE
Lewis and Clark Enhancement Program Grant Application
Resolution to Support Application
Tucker, Foley, Davis
LEGAL REVIEW: Yes
January 10, 2007
ACTION: X INFORMATION:
On January 3, 2007, the Board of Supervisors was asked to adopt a Resolution to support the application by the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center for a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation Enhancement Program. (See Attachment A) The Board deferred action and requested that the County Attorney determine if the use of funds that might be obtained by a grant from this program might jeopardize future road construction projects that might require displacement of improvements funded by the grant.
Goal 1: Enhance the quality of life for all Albemarle County residents.
Goal 2: Protect the County’s natural resources.
Goal 3: Develop policies and infrastructure improvements to address the County’s growing needs.
The County Attorney has determined that the application for the VDOT Enhancement Program by the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center requires the County to be responsible for accepting the grant from VDOT. In addition, the County must assure VDOT that a 20 percent match will be paid, that the project will meet all VDOT requirements, and that the County will reimburse VDOT for any costs expended by VDOT if the project is not completed. A resolution adopted by the Board providing these assurances must be received by VDOT prior to VDOT being able to consider approval of the Enhancement Program application. If the application is approved, VDOT will require that the County enter into an agreement with VDOT making these assurances legally binding. The County could require in a separate agreement with the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center that it assume all of the County responsibilities under the Enhancement Grant and hold the County harmless from any liabilities created by the County’s acceptance of the Enhancement Program grant.
Acceptance and use of the Enhancement Program grant for the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center does not prohibit a future Board or VDOT from approving a highway project that would displace improvements funded by this grant. However, the County would be required to reimburse the VDOT Enhancement Program for the cost of any funded improvements that are displaced. The amount of money that the County would be required to repay would depend on the value of the improvements at the time the improvements are displaced. If the original improvements have depreciated in value by the time of the displacement, the amount required to be repaid may be reduced. It is possible that the County could require the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center to be responsible for reimbursing the County for such a repayment but it will be difficult to assure that the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center will have the future financial ability to do so.
Because the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center is located on existing park land, under existing federal law any use of that property for a future highway funded by federal highway funds will require a Section 4(f) compliance review. The Section 4(f) compliance requires the preservation of public park and recreation lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites unless it is proven that there is no prudent and feasible alternative to using that land, and the project includes all possible planning to minimize any harm to those uses of the land. The determination of Section 4(f) compliance is made by VDOT in consultation with the Federal Highway Agency during the environmental review required for a future highway project. Under existing law, the location of a highway project through the Darden Towe Park may be difficult with or without additional improvements to the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center.
The County Attorney has prepared a revised Resolution for the Board’s consideration. (Attachment B) This Resolution indicates the Board’s support for the Enhancement Program application and provides the necessary County assurances, discussed above, that are required by VDOT. The VDOT deadline for receiving this Resolution for consideration in the current application cycle is January 11th.
Assuming that the County requires the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center to enter into an agreement with the County to be responsible for all the obligations and costs created by the Enhancement Program grant, the only budget impact would be the costs of the County Attorney’s Office and other staff in creating and administering the County agreement with VDOT to accept the grant, if awarded, and the cost of creating and administering the pass-through agreement between the County and the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. There is a risk that the County could be responsible for repaying all or part of the $300,000 grant if the improvements funded by the grant are displaced by a future project.
If the Board supports the application for the VDOT Enhancement Program grant requested by the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center, staff recommends adopting the attached Resolution. (Attachment B)
A – Memorandum and Resolution presented to the Board on January 3, 2007
B – Revised Resolution for consideration by the Board
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