• 72°

Funds for parking narrowly approved

On a split 4-3 vote, county supervisors in Buckingham approved a budget transfer request of $40,000 from the Buckingham County School Board to purchase about four acres of land.

The property, located at the south entrance to the Carter G. Woodson Education Complex at the intersection of Frank Harris Road and Route 20, would be used for additional parking for the elementary and primary schools, which are housed at the complex.

District One Representative R.C. “Bobby” Jones, District Four Representative Morgan Dunnavant and District Three Representative Don Matthews voted against the request during the board’s Feb. 8 meeting.

The $40,000 is set to come from the school board’s instruction budget — part of $104,000 in payroll savings due to the most recent school calendar change.

“There’s been an opportunity for us with the land beside the Carter G. Woodson Complex. There’s about four acres that is currently owned by the Buckingham Training Center…,” Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead told supervisors in January before the request was tabled.

“That land is available. And the school board … understanding the congestion in the parking lots through special events, has become to realize that it might by in our best interest and favor if we would look at some additional land.”

“I’ve looked at the site down there, and I don’t see the $40,000 for four acres of land as being a prudent business decision, myself,” Dunnavant said.

Dunnavant quoted a prior value of the land at $25,000.

“I just don’t see it as a good investment of county funds, be it board of supervisors funds or school board funds,” he said.

According to a map of existing and potential parking spaces around the complex created by Dunnavant, there are 180 existing parking spaces at the complex. Dunnavant identified areas on the south side, behind and in front of the school that could be made into parking spaces, totaling 295 additional spaces excluding the four acres sought by the school board.

“When there are other events, such as PTA meetings … (and the) Veteran’s Day program, we don’t even come close to having the available space,” Snead told the board. “The (school) board felt it would be a good time to try to see how we could move forward with the four acres.”

“There’s no one on this board (who) wants to hurt any child in Buckingham County,” Matthews said. “…I think Mr. Jones wanted to know how many additional parking spots do you need? Do you know that?”

“On any given time, we may need upwards of 50, 60 more spaces. It just depends on the type of activity we have,” Snead said.

Matthews said he was concerned about where the funds would come from to grade, clear and pave for the new parking spaces. He said land to the north of the school would be more financially prudent to look at. 

“We have been looking at this piece of property for well over a year and a half when the complex became an issue with the parking with overflow with buses,” said District Five School Board Member Sherry Ragland, sitting in the audience.

“We did look at the north side, as you said, at that time it wasn’t available. And my understanding is it’s not going to be available.”

Ragland said the board was seeking to keep the complex campus safe. “The whole idea about parking around behind the building, it’s just not what we see as a safe issue, either.”

She said available parking in the front identified by Dunnavant would take from the aesthetics from the schools

“There (are) several other alternatives to this and I think we need to research all of them,” Matthews said.

District Two Supervisor Donnie Bryan — a fifth-grade teacher — said that the 180 spaces doesn’t serve the daily needs of the complex.

“Right now we have to put our buses at the old Dillwyn Primary,” Ragland said.