Steve Jones Named Alamo Mayor Pro Tem; Council Gets Reports on City Hall, Park, Police
In its first meeting of the New Year, the Alamo City Council elected Councilman Steve Jones as Mayor Pro Tem and got updates on the new City Hall project, progress on Eastside Park, and the Alamo Police Department’s new hires.
City Manager Jeff Floyd told Council members the City has not had much interest from builders regarding the renovation of an existing, city-owned structure on Main Street/ U.S. Highway 280 to accommodate a new complex for administrative and police offices. Floyd said Garbutt Construction Company of Dublin has expressed interest in the project, but he said other companies he approached expressed hesitancy to take on the renovation of an old structure versus building new. This spurred yet another discussion by the Council about reconsidering the renovation of a historic structure which last accommodated a pharmacy.
“Dublin Construction will not do the renovation and Johnson Builders will only supply a steel shell,” Floyd said of two companies with which he discussed the renovation project. The issue of replacing an outmoded City Hall has been before the present Council for over two years with a special committee and despite having been vetted by a special committee designed to deal ITH the project, not much progress has been made, primarily because Council members disagree about new construction versus renovation. The matter of building a new City Hall actually originated about 2014 under different city administrators, but has been a shelved time after time.
The City plans to pay for the project (budgeted at $800,000) with ARP money and funds from savings, and has already invested $80,000 in purchasing the structure. Floyd has presented the Council with a floor plan for the present historic structure, devised by architect Fred Dean of Vidalia, and which Floyd said would suffice for either renovating the historic structure or a new build. The City’s present municipal building at the corner of Main and Commerce (Georgia Highway 126) is a converted convenience store which has become obsolete. Next door is the City Police Department, which is outdated and inadequate.
The Council decided to give Floyd another month to get more information from Garbutt Construction, including cost estimates, and to reach out to other potential contractors to determine building new versus renovation. He will report back to the Council at the next session on Tuesday, February 21.
While Councilman Dr. Dondrea Geter favored contemplating the project, perhaps even considering new construction and maybe even another location for the municipal complex, Councilwoman Pat Woodward, who has served on the special committee considering the future of City Hall, noted that she did not want to lose the aesthetics of the historic structure which has been determined to be structurally sound.
Geter told the Council that progress is being made on the recently-upgraded Eastside Park, reopened in the fall. The city-owned recreation area located on East Railroad Street, received new pavilions with grills, an improved basketball court, a paved front entrance and parking area, and playground equipment thanks to a $400,000 matching grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (requiring $200,000 from the City, $100,000 which will be recouped). Geter said about $97,000 is left in the original grant which will be used to install a splash pad and border fencing. He said signage listing park rules is being installed and he has been in touch with a vendor about locating a soft drink machine at the park.
Police Department, Other Business The Council voted to purchase for the Police Department four 9mm Glock pistols at a cost of $1720, and scopes for assault rifles at a cost of $1840. The Council also approved the purchase of a new police cruiser. The Ford Explorer is being purchased from Brannen Ford in Unadilla at a cost of $46, 211. The City will trade in one of its existing cruisers to close the deal. The Council will consider replacing a second aging cruiser at a later date.
Police Chief Karen Zanders reported that two new police officer recruits are scheduled to begin training at the Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth in April. The Chief said the new officers will be radar and DUI certified when they assume their duties in mid-summer.
Chief Zanders reported her department had made 161 calls during the month of December and collected $716 in fees and fines.
The Council decided to table discussion on the purchase of a vehicle for administrative use pending further discussion.
The Council reappointed Russell Clark as city attorney; renewed a contract with Chris Milton, CPA, for financial services; and renewed the contract with Plenus System for IT services.
Floyd said 291 people in the city recently benefited from a $200 credit on water bills via ARP funding.