Lee directors get project updates

LEESBURG -- Lee County officials were given updates on school, road, library and Leesburg's waste-water treatment plant projects during the county's monthly directors meeting Thursday morning.

County School Superintendent Larry Walters told the directors the school system would soon need to purchase property for a planned elementary school as the next education special-purpose local-option sales tax referendum approaches.

"Since around 80 percent of our students live in the southern part of the county, we'd like to orient the new school to the south," Walters said. "Once the new school is finished, unless we have another sudden surge of students, I think we'll be in pretty good shape."

County Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander told the group he expected another burst of building activity in the area adjacent to Robert B. Lee Drive once a truck route project involving Robert B. Lee, Lovers Lane Road and State Route 32 is completed.

"I'm looking for things to start popping in that area once we get the road done and the sewer in place," Alexander said. "So you guys can get ready for that."

Alexander also gave a synopsis on a planned turn lane in downtown Leesburg to help alleviate traffic snarls in the city, the Northwest Bypass project, the Westover Road Extension project and the Forrester Parkway Extension project.

County Commission Chairman Ed Duffy said the latter project will be vital to growth in the county.

"For economic development purposes, the Forrester Parkway project is the most important one on that list," Duffy said of the planned east-west corridor.

Leesburg City Clerk Casey Moore said underground work is 85 percent complete on the $6 million waste-water treatment plant and that the project is still on target for an August 2010 completion date.

"Weather permitting, we should be online by September," Moore said. "And once the plant is complete, it will double our capacity."

County Library Director Claire Leavy handed out schematic drawings of the planned library branch/conference center, which were presented by SRJ Architects at Tuesday's meeting of the Lee County Commission. She said bids on construction of the library, conference center and independent coffee shop that is part of the design should be opened by late spring of 2010.

Leavy said once the bid has been awarded, construction should be completed in six to nine months.

"What we've tried to do with the design of the facility is to think of the

patrons first," she said.

County Administrator Alan Ours suggested that the group address lists of concerns submitted by each separate county and city entity a year ago to see if they might collectively work on solutions.

"Maybe we can take the low-hanging fruit first and come up with actual solutions to some of these problems," he said.