The Wetlands Center in J.F. Gregory Park played host Thursday to the Richmond Hill Lions Club’s annual politicians banquet. Each year, the club invites local politicians for a question and answer session. This year’s event touched on topics ranging from Walgreens’ imminent arrival to an update on the new rec park to gas prices.
The participating politicians this year were Richmond Hill Mayor Richard Davis, Congressman Jack Kingston’s Field Representative Brooke Ann Floyd, County Commissioner Rick Gardner and Richmond Hill City Council members Floyd Hilliard, Joann Bickley and Marilyn Hodges.
Other officials in attendance included County Administrator Phil Jones and Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Commissioner Billy Albritton.
One Lion’s Club member asked Davis when Miner’s will be torn down, in reference to the dilapidated gas station that sits at the corner of Hwys. 17 and 144.
Discussion has been ongoing for about a year about a Walgreens potentially being built at that location.
"I’m glad you asked that," Davis responded. "We’ve been trying to deal with the family that owns that property for three years now to get that place torn down. However, we are told by Walgreens that it’s going to come down next month."
"Miner’s" property owner Sheila Galbreath said a contract has indeed been signed and the site is now under contract to Walgreens. She said permits are in the process of being gathered in order to proceed with the construction plans.
Davis said Walgreens have already submitted plans for the site to the city.
Here are some of the other topics Davis discussed:
- The Streetscape project is slated to go out for bid within the next 60 days.
- Plans are being drawn up right now for two pavilions and a trail to be added to Boles Community Park on Harris Trail Road sometime this year.
- Cracker Barrel, who have inquired about coming to the site adjacent to the McDonald’s on Hwy. 17, have not committed as of yet.
- Kohl’s department store will not be coming to the old Kroger site, as was rumored. Davis said they did inquire, but the site was too small for them. The site is 41,000 square feet and Davis said Kohl’s needed 60,000.
Jones said the widening of Hwy. 144 to a four-lane road is currently slated to begin in 2011. He also said there have been some slight adjustments to the plans for the adjacent Hwy. 144 bike path which should make it safer.
Gardner said the Georgia Department of Transportation is a in a state of disarray at the moment, "but we’ve been able to stay in good shape with our road projects due to help from folks like Congressman Kingston and Senator Eric Johnson."
In response to a question about when the new rec park down Hwy.144 will open, Gardner said it will open its doors to the public in mid-October. The opening will include the completion of the soccer/football fields with the baseball, softball and tennis play areas to come soon thereafter. Also included will be a trail system around the park leading to the 144 spur.
Kingston representative Floyd spoke about the current state of gas prices.
"He (Kingston) said we need to drill and we need to discuss nuclear power and we need to be open-minded and get off foreign oil, but they’ve been trying to get that to a vote for six months now and they can’t even get it on the (Congressional) agenda," Floyd said. "It’s a big environmental issue – drilling and having our own refineries and our own nuclear power plants. People are scared of it because it sounds scary, but most other leading countries are getting the majority of their energy from that. It’s clean, it’s safe, it’s proven, but they just won’t talk about it. It’s really frustrating for people like Jack because we know what the answer is, and it’s very plain and simple."
Floyd said she recently met with Senator John McCain, who is on the same page with this issue.
She said McCain told her it’s "extremely plain and simple when you do it for both security and gas prices" and the U.S. needs to "get off oil; it’s not renewable and we’re having to buy it from countries we don’t even think we should be talking to."