Thursday, July 17, 2014

WPi - New & Improved E-blast

Lake Authority Approves Phase I of Tired Creek Lake

Tired Creek Lake 
Lake authority gets financial backing to do business
 Featured in the Cairo Messenger


Grady County commissioners are giving the Grady County Lake Authority the financial resources to plan for construction of lake amenities and enhanced fishery.
On Tuesday night, the board of commissioners authorized an appropriation of approximately $750,000 to be managed by the lake authority as it moves forward with the development at the lake.
Lake Authority Chairman Travis Bryant appeared before the county commission this week to lay out the recommendations of the lake authority, which met last Thursday.
Included in Bryant's request Tuesday night was for an appropriation of approximately $500,000 to cover the cost of engineering design plans for lake amenities including boat ramps, marina, parking, restrooms, splash pad, playground and other planned improvements.
Lake Authority Chairman Bryant requested the entire $500,000 appropriation up front, but said the authority would only authorize expenditures at this time to complete engineering design at the 30 percent level.
According to Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar, he needs engineering plans that are at the 30 percent level to be included in grant applications.
Both Bryant and Tobar noted that voting to approve the appropriation did not commit the county to building any or all of the amenities.
By having designs and plans at 30 percent, Tobar said that funding partners would have a clearer idea as to the cost of the proposed projects as well as a conceptual design of how they will look once built.
According to Chairman Bryant, the projected cost for Wood & Partners and Applied Technology & Management, Inc. (ATM) to provide engineering plans at the 30 percent level will be approximately $250,000.
"Time is of the essence. The first big grant opportunity we have has an application deadline of mid October,' Tobar said.
Bryant also reminded commissioners that some of the work to be done on amenities must be done before impoundment to avoid additional cost.
The county administrator also told commissioners the county could use grant funds, if awarded, to cover the cost of the engineering services.
Lake Authority Chairman Bryant also made the case for approving the entire appropriation now rather than approving half now and the remainder later. "We will probably have spent the $250,000 by September and then we will stall and would have to meet again to discuss the remainder. The authority is in a position we can control the spending. This will be an investment I think the county will appreciate having made. The race now is to get to the 30 percent number," he said.
County Attorney Kevin S. Cauley shared his observation that the length of time to make decisions on the lake project was often frustrating to consultants working on the project. "Timing is everything and some of this work will be much more expensive once the lake bed is flooded," he said.
Commissioner Charles Norton questioned Tobar on the required match for grants he is preparing to apply for. "I don't want us to come up being awarded grants that we can't come up with the required match," Norton said.
Tobar reminded commissioners that just like the recent Georgia Tollway Authority grant of $1.2 million, he had brought before the board a resolution approving the required match. He said the board would have to approve the match for any grant the county would be applying for prior to an application being submitted.
"I think the authority has looked at this very seriously. They are all intelligent, businessmen in Grady County and I don't think they would force anything on the people of Grady County they wouldn't back up themselves. I appreciate their service and I accept their figures," Commissioner Elwyn Childs said.
"The focus right now is on what we have to do right now and we need to begin work on boat ramps very quickly. There is no smoke and mirrors here," Chairman Bryant said.
The lake authority chairman also presented the recommendation from the authority seeking an appropriation from the county of not more than $250,000 to negotiate for a fisheries plan from the Bill Dance Signature Lakes group.
Bryant explained that the authority had had several discussions with the Bill Dance group and had whittled down the proposal for improving the fishery as much as possible.
According to Bryant, the Bill Dance group has scaled down its proposal to approximately $500,000 if all of the work is done by private contractors. Use of county labor and the availability of nearby dirt could reduce that budget significantly, according to Bryant.
"The authority's opinion is not to recommend the Bill Dance plan, but to go back to them with a dollar amount in hand. At the end of the day they need to know how much the county is willing to spend and we can negotiate from there," Bryant said.
The authority recommended not committing to more than $250,000 and also to attempt to have the Bill Dance Signature Lake branding included in the negotiated price.
Vice Chairman LaFaye Copeland asked Tobar if the county had funds to cover the request. "We do right now," Tobar replied.
The board voted unanimously to appropriate up to $250,000 to the lake authority and Chairman Bryant indicated he would begin negotiations with Bill Dance officials.
Lastly, Chairman Bryant presented the authority's recommendation that the county begin the process of acquiring 80 feet of right-of-way along State Park Road, which will be the primary access point for the lake and the proposed marina. The authority is also recommending the county consider a proposed new alignment of the intersection of Old 84/State Park Road and U.S. 84 as well as to replace a box culvert on Gainous Road with a concrete bridge that provides a minimum of eight foot of clearance to allow boats to access the section of Tired Creek Lake north of Gainous Road.
"These are more county issues rather than authority issues but we wanted to put a bee in your bonnet so to speak and get you to work toward these goals," Bryant said.
Consulting engineer Stacy Watkins of Watkins and Associates was authorized Tuesday night to do the civil engineering required for the Gainous Road bridge replacement.
Watkins told Commissioner Charles Norton he would evaluate if a 60 foot bridge would be adequate rather than the 80 foot bridge being proposed. Based on a recent soil analysis the cost of installing a new bridge would be cheaper than replacing the existing box culvert with a new culvert.
Watkins estimates that a 10' x 10' x 46' long box culvert would be $329,895.60 compared to $260,720.0 for a 32' wide x 80' long pre-stressed concrete bridge. However, Watkins noted that his original estimate had been based on a lower clearance and not the eight foot clearance recommended by the lake authority.
The new bridge will be paid for with funds from a $1.2 million grant the county was recently awarded by the Georgia Tollway Authority.
In related news Tuesday night, the board:
Met behind closed doors with Attorney Cauley and consulting engineer Watkins to discuss acquisition of 80 feet of right-of-way on State Park Road. No action was taken after the meeting was reopened to the public.
County commissioners also heard an update on eight grants Tobar is looking to apply for with assistance from county intern Shelley Kines.
Local officials are scheduled to meet with a representative of the Georgia Department of Economic Development here next week, according to Miss Kines.