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City diverts funds for park improvements

POSTED: February 10, 2017 7:30 a.m.

The Richmond Hill City Council voted at its Tuesday meeting to divert $100,000 in 2017 Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax funds that were to be used for improvements in J.F. Gregory Park to the Sterling Creek Recreation Area for improvements there.

Both parks are city owned and the passive recreation area is 187.7 acres behind the Sterling Creek Subdivision off Harris Trail Road.

City manager Chris Lovell said the funds had originally been earmarked to build additional bathrooms in J.F. Gregory Park, but he was seeking council permission to use the funds for the recreation area.

"We do not anticipate the need for the additional bathrooms at this time.

"The funds will be used to create bike trails and walking trails for families to use. It will be a passive park. It will be a good place for families and others to enjoy the beauty of the area," the city manager said. The target date for opening the trails portion of the recreation area is April 22.

He also said the park will not be used for organized sports but is destined to be a quiet area for area residents and visitors.

In a related move, Lovell was granted permission from the council to take $10,000 of the diverted funds and be used for signage and related expenditures.

The vote on both the funds diversion and reallocation of the $10,000 was unanimous, though Councilwoman Jan Bass was absent from the meeting.

Even with the $100,000 in diverted monies, Lovell said there remains $100,000 in 2017 SPLOST funds for use in J.F. Gregory Park, the majority of that likely to be used for road improvements.

The rest of the night’s agenda was dominated mostly by planning and zoning issues.

The council also:

• Approved a freestanding sign at Parker’s Convenience Store at 11416 Ford Avenue.

• Approved a freestanding sign at Yates Astro at 10904 Ford Avenue.

• Approved a project entrance sign for Timber Trail Townhomes at the entrance off Liberty Avenue.

• Approved a project entrance sign for Lullwater at Richmond Hill at 12500 Ford Avenue.

• Approved the preliminary plat for Brisbon Townhomes. The project will consist of 44 townhome units on 13.6 acres near the intersection of Brisbon and Harris Trail roads. The property is zoned planned development 2.

• Approved an expenditure of $18,000 for a new all terrain vehicle for the police department. The ATV will replace one that is nearly 20 years old.

• Approved an update in the job description for a planning and zoning technician. P&Z director Scott Allison said the change will take the position from a more technical standpoint to more clerical based, as it was previously.

The council also approved the refinancing of a GEFA loan with Ameriisbank, which will save the city approximately $200,000 over the payback life of the loan.

The interest rate drops from four percent to 2.62 percent.

The original $2.2 million loan was used for the development of the lower Floridian well, along with tank improvements and the extension of the water main.

The council also approved a maintenance and mowing contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for new sidewalks to be run to fill in areas without sidewalks, from the intersection of Highway 17 and Ford Avenue down Ford Avenue to Richmond Place Subdivision.

Lovell said he hoped for the sidewalk construction to begin soon.

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