A Boy Scouts troop got an upfront look at county government Wednesday evening.
Nicholas Rose, a 15-year-old freshman at Jamestown High School, came out to Supervisor Kevin Onizuk’s budget town hall forum at Legacy Hall in New Town, along with several members of his troop 1932.
He heard lots of discussion on things going on in his hometown he had not given a lot of consideration to, there was talk about finding a viable source of drinking water and fiscal health and lots of talk about tax rates. But one thing in particular drew his attention, discussion from parents of students at Lafayette High School about the need for an additional gymnasium.
“It was informative…it was it was helpful. I learned a lot tonight,” Nicholas said.
Onizuk, the Jamestown District Supervisor, took questions on the $193 million budget proposed by County Administrator Bryan Hill.
Unlike last year, there’s no tax rate increases proposed in the budget this year, and attendance at budget town hall forums have been small compared to last year. About 24 people showed up for the Legacy Hall meeting. After a brief overview of the budget much of the discussion pivoted toward the situation at Lafayette.
“There’s a lot of people who agree this is a critical project, including myself,” Onizuk said. “I promise I will certainly be giving it my attention,” he said. Parents, teachers and students at Lafayette have said closing the gym at the James Blair middle school site will leave them with limited access to athletic facilities and cause more students to have to drive to and from practices, sometimes late at night. Many have been upset that the project has not been a higher priority for the W-JCC school division and for the Board of Supervisors in its Capital Improvement Program.
County officials have pledged to look into the matter and help identify possible solutions, but have also said they didn’t know the full scope of the problem because of information supplied by the school system.
At the end of the meeting, Nicholas said he understood the concern over Lafayette because he knew schools faced challenges as they got older. He also was intrigued by the water issues facing the county, as Onizuk explained that the county is considering building a desalination plant along the river. “I always thought of James City County of being kind of swampland,” he said. “That we have water issues is kind of concerning.