Discussion on paving City Lake Road dominated Monday's meeting
Before spending most of Monday evening discussing paving the City Lake Road at the City Council meeting, the council acted on several business items and a request from Monica McClure requesting the Augusta City Lake for stand-up paddleboard activities.
McClure reported to the Council that the activities are held regularly at Santa Fe Lake and because the lake had experienced a couple of closures due to storm damage last year, she would like to be able to use the Augusta City Lake as a back-up option.
“This was brought in front of you because the activity involves access to the water and because there is an ordinance against swimming or wading in the City Lake, we need to know whether you would consider changing the ordinance and then taking it to the Park Advisory Board,” City Manager Josh Shaw stated.
Council members approved sending the request on to the Park Board.
Community Improvement District
Assistant City Manager Cody Sims explained that for a few months, the city staff had been working with Shane Scott in the process of establishing a Community Improvement District in order to provide funding for the expansion of Sugar Shane’s Cafe at 430 State Street.
Mr. Scott is requesting the creation of the district to provide financing associated with the construction of an addition and remodeling to the existing restaurant, including parking lot and other expenses associated with the project. The estimated cost of the project is $290,000.
Sims explained that the Community Improvement District will provide “pay-as-you-go financing” for qualifying project expenses in the form of an additional 2 percent sales tax for a period of 22 years. The authorization of the additional 2 percent CID sales tax will not impact the 2 percent city sales tax already in effect. If Scott defaults on the financial obligations in which the CID proceeds are being used to pay, or if Sugar Shane’s Cafe ceases to exist at any time during the 22-year period, the City will not be responsible for any costs associated with the project.
“By accepting the petition and approving the proposed Resolution No. 2018-03, the governing body is agreeing to conduct a public hearing,” said Sims, “Establishment of the CID will not resulting a financial commitment for the City.”
“The emphasis is that the tax is on Shane’s customers,” added Councilor Cale Magruder.
Council approved the petition and the resolution. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 5, at City Hall.
City Lake Road discussion
Discussion on the City Lake Road Construction Project was tabled at the last Council meeting and picked up at Monday’s meeting.
City Manager Shaw reminded council members that cost estimates for paving the road were based on the assumption that the existing road bed could be used as the base material for the new asphalt street. The city engineer prepared engineering plans and specifications for the project. The intent was to combine this asphalt work on the City Lake Road with the mill and overlay work in Lakeside II Addition scheduled for construction in spring 2018.
“With the budget for asphalt not being enough, we looked to chip sealing, which resembles a paved street and can be maintained like a paved road,” Shaw continued, “You have the option for paving, chip seal, or not doing the project at all.”
Lake area resident Aaron Wells shared what it’s like to live next to the dusty lake road and his environmental concerns.
“The gravel is going in the air and in the water.”
He advised that when the grader works the road, that the gravel ends up off the road and eventually into the lake.
Wells also shared a Pennsylvania study on gravel roads concerning dust pollution and maintenance.
“Dust control is good economics...It looks tome that it’s economic sense and environmental sense to control the dust,” he continued, “Augusta’s population has grown and traffic has increased in that area dramatically. Congratulations on the PlayPark, Splash Pad, and the fishing docks- they’re all great, but lets make it great for everybody.”
Councilman Tom Leffler was next.
“My home and about 35 others are on the east side of the lake. People need to understand that there is no conflict of interest. I did not propose paving the lake road,” he said and went on to explain the process of arriving at the proposal.
“I support paving the road and I’ve heard from more people that would like to see it paved,” Leffler continued, “There is more traffic and more people now the area than 21 years ago when I moved there...The road has not been maintained and that needs to be addressed. It needs to be taken care whether it gets paved or not.”
“I discussed it with people around the lake and they prefer the dirt road. They think there would be more traffic if it was paved. The citizens outside that area would prefer spending the money on different projects,” Councilman Paul Belt advised.
City Manager Shaw agreed, “We do need to do something, but not sure asphalt or chip seal is the answer...Dust control is a huge thing.”
“Is it a want or a need?” asked Councilor Justin Londagin, “We have to listen to the majority...We do need to maintain it and address the dust, but I would like to go back and look at other options.”
Councilman Eric Burk added that the city does have equipment that could be used for dust suppression.
“Well, I haven’t talked to the majority of the city, but I’ve heard both viewpoint from the citizens and council,” Councilor Mike Rawlings said, “I’d like to pave around PlayPark and Castle Park and behind Cottonwood Point where the road has eroded. That’s a safety concern...We’ve spent a lot of money to make Shryock Park stand out, but we also need to think of the safety of the kids there...Lots of people live on dirt roads everywhere, we do need to make the area safe. I worry about a kid not being seen by drivers in a dust filled parking lot.”
Councilor Magruder added that over time the project has decreased in what the council can do and that it is a challenge.
He said, “I am concerned that the community doesn not want us to pave the entire road. I like Mr. Rawlings’ idea.”
“Everyone of us have spent time on this and engaged with the citizens. It’s not an easy decision,” said Shaw.
A move to pave the entire lake road failed, 5-2.
A move to pave just in the area of Shryock Park failed, as well.
Finally, a motion to pave sections from Augusta Avenue to the Cottonwood Point parking area, and the road near Shryock Park, from the south trail crossing to the trail crossing on the north side, was passed 4-3.
Shaw advised that revise engineer estimates would be provided and the bid process would soon begin.
“We will want to discuss dust control at an upcoming work session,” Mayor Childers said.