authority gets financial backing to do business
Featured in the Cairo Messenger
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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.