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Officials discuss projects, visions for city

Posted: May 15, 2012 - 3:44pm  |  Updated: May 23, 2012 - 8:56am

 

City officials and department heads met Friday and Monday for North Augusta Forward, which takes a look at projects completed and what’s to come in the future.

The following is a breakdown of items discussed by each department.

John Potter, director of finance, said that Sales Tax III will provide $23,575,000 for projects that will be completed in an order to be determined by city council. Proposed projects include: $4.5 million for Five Notch Road widening improvements; $1,475,000 for Greeneway expansion, extension, connectors and roadway crossing improvements; $3 million for development of Northview Park; $500,000 to purchase a new pumper truck for the fire department; and $6 million for the renovations and development of North Augusta Public Safety headquarters and substations.

Potter also informed city council of several challenges the city will face when it comes to the 2013 budget including having to pay a higher percentage into the state’s retirement system as mandated by the state; the end of the Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic grant, which can be reapplied for, but it’s not a guarantee that it will be re-awarded; the loss of dual tax and gas tax from Aiken County; loss of Breezy Hill water sales; and the potential increase in health insurance and fuel costs.

A few new initiatives were proposed by the Department of Public Services to help citizens and the city.

One initiative would be to develop a community outreach program within the codes compliance division for “property owners or occupants with demonstrated inability to bring property maintenance into compliance” such as the elderly or those who physically wouldn’t be able to take care of their properties themselves, according to James Sutton.

The program would partner with homeowner associations, human services agencies, religious organizations and community volunteers to help such property owners or occupants.

The department’s property maintenance division stated it would like to create a pilot program to use residential yard waste, which is already being picked up by the city and using equipment the city already owns, as mulch. Currently, such items are taken to the landfill.

The pilot program would also include composting. Both the mulch and compost activities would take place at the North Augusta Operations Facility.

Rick Meyer, interim director of North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, highlighted improvements that have been made at Riverview Park and said that renovations should be finished in late June.

Meyer said he would like to add lighting to Riverview Park Drive and may request $180,000 to do so in the 2013 budget.

Meyer also discussed the Riverview Park gymnasium expansion project, which would cost about $3.1 million for Phase I with $2.5 million available in Sales Tax III. Two new gyms would be added at the front of the building with the idea to create one that can also be used for events, such as concerts or graduation. He also mentioned adding a bathroom at the ground floor of one of the new gyms to be used by pedestrians on the Greeneway.

Northview Park, which is about 175 acres and located between Murrah and Five Notch roads, is estimated to cost $13.5 million, with Phase I to cost $3 million and come from Sales Tax III. Meyer said Phase I will include the entrance, parking area, two ball fields, a scoring tower with an office and a playground. The new park is expected to be completed in three phases.

Sales Tax III also allots $1 million for development of the Riverfront Park area in Hammond’s Ferry.

John Thomas, director of Public Safety, discussed improving Insurance Office Service ratings by adding a third public safety station on Belvedere Clearwater Road, which would remove residences in the Lakes and Streams subdivision from a Class 10 rating, no fire protection.

He also showed pictures of the old municipal building on East Buena Vista Avenue that is being used by public safety, which revealed mold damage and other structural problems that need to be fixed. Thomas said there is a need to create a public safety headquarters that houses all departments under one roof. Offices are currently spread between two buildings.

Tom Zeaser talked about the downtown streetscape project and said that all that is left is to finish West Avenue. Funding needed to complete the project is $562,293 and there is only $125,688 left in the budget. Zeaser proposed other areas to get the needed funds, such as funds set aside in Sales Tax II for sidewalk/curbing and road resurfacing.

The department is looking into access management along West Martintown Road between Gregory Lake Road and Knobcone Avenue to help spur economic development, according to Scott Sterling, interim director of Planning and Economic Development.

Some potential changes include adding a signal light and access road to what could become a developed commercial area on Martintown Road next to the I-20 overpass and a realignment of Old Plantation Road.

The realignment of Old Plantation Road would involve having a right turn only entrance and a right turn only exit. A new road would be created from Martintown Road directly across from Knobcone Road and signal lights would be put in place at the intersection.

Having such things already in place will help encourage more businesses to locate in North Augusta, city administrator Todd Glover told council members.

City attorney Kelly Zier presented a draft ordinance to council members regarding the scavenging of items intended for the city’s recycling program.

He stated that there has been a problem with people picking up recyclables for their own use before the city is able to pick them up on their routes and has resulted in the city losing money.

Sutton added that they have noticed that as the price of metal rises, the less metal they collect and suspect that it’s due to scavengers picking up metals left on the curb.

Enforcement of the ordinance would be a team effort between North Augusta Public Safety and the department of Public Services.

Zier has drafted a new application that non-profits will have to complete when seeking city funds and inclusion in the next year’s budget.

The application requires organizations to answer in detail several questions regarding how the funds would be used and how the general public will benefit from the organization’s use of the funds.

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