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Maintenance key in Woodstock’s 5-year capital plan

WOODSTOCK – A new dog park, utility improvements in the widening of Route 14 and a load of routine maintenance and debt payments highlight the city’s latest five-year capital improvement plan.

The annual plan prioritizes projects from “urgent” to “deferrable” and serves as a loose guide to assemble the budget.

The 259-page document the City Council discussed Tuesday night reflects the economic times. Several sections include disclaimers that expenditures in the 2013-14 budget can’t feasibly extend beyond debt payments or maintenance and repair.

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding of the economic times and the limited financial resources that we’ll be dealing with at budget time,” Councilman Richard Ahrens said. He filled in for an absent Mayor Brian Sager.

The capital improvement plan provides a peek at projects on the city’s radar, both long- and short-term.

A $100,000 project during the next two years – categorized as “urgent” – calls for the city to relocate or replace utilities along Route 14 between Lake Shore Drive and Route 176. The work would need to be completed in the first half of this year because the Illinois Department of Transportation informed the city that contractors could break ground this summer on widening the road to five lanes, officials said.

Public facilities improvements during the next five years focus on maintenance at City Hall and the Opera House. Parks improvements similarly focus on maintenance rather than new facilities or substantial projects.

The city must focus on maintenance of existing facilities “until such time as the housing growth returns to previous levels to generate sufficient revenues to add substantial new projects,” the report states.

Council members also discussed a plan to get a dog park up and running in Woodstock. The low-priority project calls for a park on city property, possibly funded by private contributions and volunteer workers.

Since the document was compiled, the city was contacted by Bull Valley. A dog park could come quicker if the city works out a deal to place it off Country Club Road in Bull Valley in exchange for covering minor utility costs at the park.

Such a change in the plan isn’t uncommon because the document evolves as council members see fit up until budget time, said Roscoe Stelford, deputy city manager and finance director.

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