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April 20, 2018 – Hampton’s Planning Commission this week recommended approval of a five-year capital spending plan that would pump new investments into the city – mostly for economic growth and quality of life.The proposed plan for FY19-23, which must be approved by City Council, totals $288.7 million, an increase of 27 percent over the previous five-year plan.Since the recession and slow economic recovery, Hampton’s plans for major improvements have focused on maintenance, roads, mandated pollution-reduction projects, repairs and needed facilities. Knowing that some bonds will have been paid off and the city had capacity to borrow, council has spent nearly two years narrowing and refining a list of potential projects.They focused on two areas where there has been less spending in recent years: Projects designed to grow the economy and produce new annual tax revenues (jobs, retail, tourism, housing), and quality of life or placemaking projects.Economic Growth: While only $8.4 million was allocated for economic growth in the previous plan, the updated plan would grow to $61.4 million. Projects aimed for downtown – from the waterfront to the interstate – are targeted at $12 million, as are projects in the Coliseum Drive area. Almost $5 million has been added for housing redevelopment and improvement. In addition, in future years of the plan, a youth tourism facility (planned as an aquatics center) is contemplated at $22 million ¬– if council decided to move forward with it. The expected economic benefits from weekend swim meets put this in the economic category, but it also has quality-of-life improvements for local residents and high school swim teams.Placemaking: Spending in this area would grow by almost 37%, to $26.7 million. New projects include $6 million in additional funding to improve Parks and Recreation facilities and $3 million for War Memorial Stadium upgrades. Money is also allocated to help neighborhood pools.Projects in the other categories remain fairly stable.Safe and Clean includes two major buildings representing the bulk of the $34 million planned over five years – a new fire station for Wythe and a new 911 and Emergency Operations Center. The police will get a larger academy, but it will be in a building the city already owns, with a renovation budget of $1 million. The plan also includes nearly $1 million to install additional public safety cameras that would support the city’s crime prevention efforts.An Educated and Engaged Citizenry category would grow to $33.4 million, with an extra $1 million for major school maintenance projects.Good Government would grow 10% to $107 million. Almost half of this category is road resurfacing and improvements, with mandated wastewater improvements taking another 39%. The spending plan includes $1 million for a new human resources and payroll computer system, and $2 million for improvements to the Public Works yard.Living with Water would grow from $21.1 million to $26 million. While most of the projects in this area are mandated stormwater improvements, the category also includes some recreation. Improvements to the Salt Ponds Inlet jetty will be funded next year, two years earlier than previously planned. And new funds are included for implementing water quality projects identified in the city’s watershed studies. The five-year plan also funds a sand replenishment project at Buckroe Beach.