Huntington officials last week approved $8.6 million in bonds including one to purchase property for additional town-owned downtown parking spaces.
The town will bond $1.6 million to purchase part of 24 West Carver St. and use it to address the chronic need for downtown parking. The parcel is on the southeast corner at Green Street.
Among other projects the bonding will cover are $2.5 million for improvements to town roads; $1.1 million for highway department equipment; $900,000 for drainage improvements; $300,000 for improvements to town buildings and facilities; and $175,000 for resurfacing athletic courts
“Besides the property purchase this is for the usual capital projects,” town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. “We know we need parking and this relieves some of the pressure.”
There were more than a dozen bond resolutions in total. Town board member Gene Cook voted to approve only one that he said addressed safety concerns by bonding $200,000 for new traffic signals and related traffic calming improvements on Depot Road at East 17th Street.
“I’ve always had a problem with bonding because I believe a lot of that stuff could be put into the budget,” Cook said. “We know years in advance that we’re going to need to do these things. Put it in a budget and get it straightened out.”
Petrone defended bonding as a normal course of running a municipality and said the town’s AAA bond ratings makes borrowing a sound fiscal move. “We’re bonding this year $8.625 million. Taxes would have to go up dramatically year after year to do that work,” Petrone said. “Meanwhile these projects are going to be done all through next year and if I didn’t bond them I would have to pay for them.”
As of Dec. 31, outstanding town debt was $82.4 million. Town officials plan to retire $10.6 million of it this year, they said.
The parking project will only take up part of the West Carver Street property. The remainder — an office building and some of the existing parking spaces directly around it — are not being purchased by the town.
On the parcel with the building remaining privately owned, there will be 19 parking spaces. The town used about 30 of the spaces since July under a lease agreement with the owner while the sale was pending.