The Glynn County Commission approved one of its two “vertical” Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016 projects, a veterans memorial park in downtown Brunswick.
Planned for the vacant lot between I and J streets, the park would also provide some additional public parking for the downtown area.
“I was very pleased with the support the commission gave to move forward with it,” said commission Chairman Mike Browning, also a member of the veterans memorial park committee that approved the final park designs.
“There has been quite a bit of time put into what to do with that block, and there’s been very serious consideration put into it by everyone. I think it’s going to be a very beautiful park and a destination for visitors ... I think it’s going to be everything and more than we ever expected.”
Designs for the park came in well over budget at roughly $1.94 million, while the SPLOST money remaining for the project sits at around $1.37 million.
The commission voted Thursday to make up the difference by pulling from its capital projects fund in the amount of $293,864 in savings from road projects and $274,693 from the undesignated portion of the fund.
“I can’t speak for the entire board, but I think probably the majority felt like if we were going to do this park we’ve got to get it right,” Browning said.
Commissioners decided to include the project on the SPLOST 2016 list in 2015, he said. Estimates may have been close to accurate at the time, as inflation and changes in the construction market have both caused building costs to increase in recent years.
After approval, Public Works Director Dave Austin said the county’s purchasing department will go through its processes before issuing a notice to proceed to Altamaha Building Systems.
The contractor is already working on multiple local projects, so it won’t hard for them to shift focus when the time comes, Austins said.
“They’re already doing work for us on three jobs ... They’re already working the (Glynn County) Tax Commissioner’s office (renovations), they are currently putting a basketball court in Madge Merritt (Park) in Brunswick Villas and they will be making a bathroom at Paulk Field,” he said. “They’re doing a very good job, and we’re pleased with the work they’ve done.”
He couldn’t give an estimated completion date but said the public will be kept informed.
“We want to keep the veterans committee informed during construction, so after the pre-construction and the notice to proceed, we’ll probably have a meeting with the committee,” Austin said. “As we get closer to the thing coming out of the ground, then the county hierarchy will figure out how we’re going to cut the ribbon.”
In other business, the commission approved a new ordinance regulating personal transportation vehicles, commonly known as golf carts.
A personal transportation vehicle, or PTV, was characterized by Senior Assistant County Attorney Will Worley on Thursday as having a top speed of less than 20 miles per hour and transporting no more than eight people.
State law allows counties to permit them to drive on public streets with speed limits of 25 miles per hour or less, Worley said.
PTVs aren’t legal on public streets until the local government creates an ordinance making them legal, he said.
A low-speed vehicle, one which Worley said has a top speed between 20 and 25 miles per hour can drive on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less as stipulated by state law.
“This ordinance would require registration of the slower ones in the community development office and, as state law presently stipulates, the faster ones need to go to the tax commissioner’s office and get a license plate,” said Commissioner Peter Murphy, who sponsored the ordinance.
LSVs are regulated by the state, Worley said. The county’s ordinances will now mirror the state’s as far as LSVs are concerned because the county can’t do much else about them.
“The county doesn’t have any authority to regulate or change the laws regarding LSVs, so this law only deals with PTVs,” Worley said.
State law allows the county to legalize PTVs on public streets, require registration once every five years for a fee of $15 or less, require PTVs to have liability insurance and set operation or equipment requirements.
Registration will be handled by the county’s Community Development Department. PTV owners will be required to fill out a form with the make, model and the serial number of their vehicle along with personal information.
Once their registration is filed, the county will provide a decal for the vehicle.
The ordinance also stipulates only one person can sit in a seat, seatbelts and child restraints much be used while driving on public roads and that the driver must be at least 16 years old and have a driver’s license. Headlights and taillights, turn signals, rearview mirror and a slow-moving vehicle sticker are also required.
When someone rents the vehicle out, he would have to to give the renter a copy of the ordinance and ask them to sign a statement confirming they received it.
“The one concern I have is that, by state law, in the faster vehicle’s seatbelt use is not mandated, and attorney Worley was suggesting he did not think we can override it,” Murphy said.
The commission approved the new rules unanimously.
The ordinance will become effective 90 days from Thursday.
In other business, the commission deferred a reorganization of county department heads, which would have increased the pay grades of all but one position.