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New Richmond Hill library plans go forward
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Plans are marching on for a new — and much larger — Richmond Hill public library after city council approved an agreement with Bryan County Board of Commissioners.

“They still need to take it to their commission meeting in July and vote on it on their end, but what it does is, it initiates the process, the first step,” assistant city manager Scott Allison said of the agreement after Tuesday night’s city council meeting. 

In the agreement, the city will donate 3.07 acres on its 51 acre Towne Center tract to the county to build a public library and related facilities. The land is located off Highway 144 past Parker’s gas station, near Ford Plantation and Lullwater Apartments.

While it is a land grant, the agreement requires the county to pay for the preliminary work to prepare the land for building. That work includes entrance construction and water and sewer. Engineers expect that work to cost $420,625.85, as specified in the agreement.

There is no timeline for completion since the construction work is not yet under contract. That will all be decided by the commission board. But the agreement does require the county to start the design process within two years of closing on the property.

In other business, council also approved $10,213 towards LED lighting upgrades for the pavilion at J. F. Gregory Park. City Manager Chris Lovell explained the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce is paying for the labor and the city is paying for the material.

The council also heard a presentation about the 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan from the Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, also known as CORE MPO. Staffer Wykoda Wang explained the federally-mandated agency includes local representatives in a designated urbanized to spread the influence and give them more of a say in transportation projects. Based on population changes, Richmond Hill became part of the Chatham urbanized area.

The long-range transportation plan is a 25-year plan starting in 2020 and includes a projected $1.8 billion of incoming revenue. But that’s not as much money as it seems, according to Wang, saying that there are priority lists since there are more identified needs than projected funds.

Currently, there are only two projects on the list in the Richmond Hill area, Harris Trail Road widening and Port Royal Road widening.

Construction of the King George Blvd. interchange was one of the group’s projects and had impact to Bryan County residents.

Wang pointed to Census data that showed at least 50 percent of Bryan County residents commute to Chatham County for work.

The CORE MPO holds public meetings around the area to hear public concerns and Wang handed out meeting schedule information. The next meeting is 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 25 at the Pooler Recreation Center, located at 900 S. Rogers Street.

The City Council meeting also included Mayor Russ Carpenter presentation of the Employee of the Quarter award to zoning administrator Amanda Styer. The mayor explained how Styer first joined the city 13 years ago as a clerk.

“That’s working your way up the old-fashioned way,” Carpenter said. “Thank you for all you do for our city.”

Richmond Hill’s Independence Day celebration will be 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 29 at J. F. Gregory Park.

The event features music by The Tams, food vendors, free inflatables, and a finale fireworks display.

The next city council meeting will be July 16.

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