Mary Ross Waterfront Park will be closed to the public beginning Friday through Nov. 8 for the filming of the new Marvel movie Black Panther 2.

City commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting approved the request by Kimoyo Productions to use the park to film on the waterfront.

The studio will pay the city $15,000 for the use of the park, with an additional $1,000 a day for every day filming goes beyond Nov. 8, city attorney Brian Corry told city commissioners.

“I know it’s short notice,” Corry said. “This is standard protocol in this business.”

City Manager Regina McDuffie said there are other parks for families to go to during filming, including the newly renovated Howard Coffin Park.

“This is a significant occurrence to the city,” she said. “It’s not going to be a terrible inconvenience.”

McDuffie said approving the permit on short notice shows the city is film friendly, and Brunswick will get credit in the movie. And it will create a positive economic impact in the city while film crews are in town.

Commissioner Felicia Harris questioned the short notice to close the park but understood why there is little public notice.

“This is awesome,” she said. “I’m totally for it.”

Earlier in the meeting, city officials unanimously approved $58,300 from SPLOST 6 funds for the project design for the second phase of improvements at Mary Ross Waterfront Park as laid out in the master plan. The first phase made structural improvements to the dock, which have been completed.

The next phase is to improve access to the park including a clearly defined entrance, improved pedestrian access, and paving the dock and adding a hand rail.

Work could begin by next spring once the design is completed and approved. The cost will be determined after the project goes out to bid.

CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads were also the brunt of criticism for the bad condition of railroad crossings near the park that make access impossible for people in wheelchairs or those trying to cross the road with a cart with materials for one of the many special events.

“CSX and Norfork Southern have not treated us well,” Commissioner Julie Martin said.

Commissioner Johnny Cason said the solution is for the railroads to install metal plates around the tracks to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the road to get to the park.

“It’s wrong. It’s a big problem,” he said.

Lance Sabbe, vice chair of Forward Brunswick, said his organization has made improvements at the park one of its top priorities. He said Forward Brunswick is willing to help, including financially if the city is unable to afford all the improvements.

He said the Georgia Ports Authority has verbally agreed direct all traffic to the entrance with the guard shack and permanently close the other two.

In other business:

• Chris Channell, supervisor of the county board of elections, told city officials there is an imbalance in population between the north and south wards that will only grow larger over the next decade with the planned developments.

While it isn’t required as part of the voting redistricting, he said the north ward has 1,558 more people and recommended new lines to balance the number of residents in each ward.

The line separating the two wards has traditionally been L Street. Channell presented a map that moves the boundaries several blocks north and has a population deviation of less than .05 percent.

City officials do not have to get state approval if they decide to redraw the lines. Instead, it would be a home rule decision that would require the city to amend its charter.

• A public hearing for proposed sign ordinance changes did not generate any public comment before it was approved unanimously. The changes were mostly to clarify the types of signs permitted from campaign signs to billboards.

City planner John Hunter said advertisers have been contacted about the new ordinance, which was also advertised in local media.

Cason said the city has done a poor job enforcing the prohibition of political campaign signs on city right of ways.

“We have an enforcement problem, that’s all,” he said.

Hunter said his department has pulled more than 100 signs in the past two months.

• A memorandum of understanding was approved to allow the Golden Isles Development Authority to help the city distribute business relief grants to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The development authority will help distribute funds to small businesses outside the boundaries of the Brunswick Downtown Development Authority.

Harris said it’s important that businesses outside the downtown district know about the program.

“I want this pushed and advertised throughout the city,” she said. “We need to reach every business.”

• The city will be getting a new ladder fire truck in about 18 months. The current ladder truck is outdated and its ladder too short to deal with some of the structure fires because of a limited reach. Fire Chief Randy Mobley said the new truck will reach up to 100 feet, which will enable his department to respond to fires in taller buildings in the city such as those at the hospital.

Rather than raise taxes to pay for the truck, which will have to go out to bid to determine the cost, commissioners voted to use SPLOST funds that were returned to the city for tax relief from the failed Oglethorpe Conference Center.

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