How are neighborhood projects selected, designed and built?
History of Neighborhood Improvement Program
In the late 80's, Charlotte began taking action to revitalize, stabilize and maintain the infrastructure of its neighborhoods. In 1990 the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program was originated and funded at $2 million annually. From 1990-1996, the program concentrated in City within a City (CWAC) Neighborhoods such as Beatties Ford Road, Sterling and Villa Heights.
In November of 1996, Charlotte voters approved $32 million in Neighborhood Improvement bonds that targeted neighborhoods such as Hidden Valley, Lincoln Heights and Moores Chapel. In 2000, Charlotte voters approved $32 million in Neighborhood Improvement bonds which included West Boulevard, Plaza Midwood and the Thomasboro/Hoskins neighborhoods. $13.8 million was approved in 2004 and will be used to fund the Belmont Revitalization Plan and Hope VI Project ($8.8 million) and to complete construction of the 2000 bonds ($5 million). In November 2006, voters approved $25,000,000 for neighborhood projects.
The Process Begins
City staff from Neighborhood Development, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, Department of Transportation, Budget & Evaluation, and Engineering & Property Management collaborate to determine neighborhoods that will benefit from infrastructure improvements. After this list is compiled, Neighborhood Development ranks these projects in the order they should be completed, and submits the list to the Budget Office and the City Manager's Office for approval.
Once City Council approves the priority projects, initial funding needs are estimated and included in a bond referendum. When voters approve the bonds, Engineering & Property Management (E&PM) selects a design consultant and begins the four-phase process for designing and building the project:
- Planning & design phase (includes public involvement)
- Bid phase
- Land Acquisition phase
- Construction phase
The Planning & Design phase begins with a series of public meetings led by the project team (comprised of city staff and the design consultant). Citizens' comments are taken into consideration as the consultant creates criteria and a series of designs for the project. Once a preliminary design gains the approval of key city officials, it is presented at another public meeting. Additional public meetings are conducted if necessary.
The consultant then works with the project team and Neighborhood Development staff in developing a final design, which includes all details of the project. At this point, the Planning & Design phase ends and the Acquisition phase begins. After details are developed, the City of Charlotte acquires any land necessary to build the project. Next, the Bid Phase begins as E&PM solicits bids for building the project. E&PM is required by law to obtain at least three bids on all projects, though six to eight bids are usually received. The contract is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
The Construction Phase begins next, as residents in the vicinity of the construction site are notified of construction beginning and end dates. Once construction is underway, an E&PM inspector visits the site daily. For large projects, an inspector remains on-site fulltime. All work is guaranteed by the contractor for a minimum of one year.