While Glynn County is chugging along on Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2016-funded infrastructure projects, brick-and-mortar items continue to face delays.
Members of the SPLOST 2016 oversight committee took county personnel to task over a new animal control shelter and veterans memorial park, both of which the county commission told voters to expect when they approved the penny tax at the ballot nearly three years ago.
Both projects are fully designed, but no dirt has yet been turned on either. Both also came in well over budget.
“The very first project out of the gate, Mr. (County Manager Alan) Ours said he would like it to be the animal shelter three years ago,” said committee member Jane Fraser.
“And it was,” Public Works Director Dave Austin responded. “It was the very first project out of the gate. Of course, I realize this (committee) doesn’t give us any credit for design, but it was ... We have a design plan, and it’s gone through DRT, our design review team, and we have it on the shelf. It’s been on the shelf for a year, ready to go.”
Fraser asked where the project was in terms of starting construction, reminding the committee that county staff members had presented the commission with multiple options.
The first option was to build the shelter as designed; the second was to build only the new office, intake, quarantine and adoption building at the shelter’s current site; and the third was to follow up on some old expansion plans for the existing shelter designed by former Police Chief Matt Doering and an architect.
“They (commissioners) have requested some more information as far as estimates,” Austin said. “I have not given them the figures, they want to see some harder figures ... I’m working on it.”
Committee member John Dow asked if SPLOST money could be used for the second or third option, or if it had to be used for a new shelter only.
“According to (County Attorney Aaron Mumford) the SPLOST money is available for any of the options,” Austin said.
Austin then touched on the veterans memorial park, which is slated for the empty lot between I and J streets on Newcastle Street in downtown Brunswick.
“We are waiting on a board decision to award the construction to bid. You may have heard about that one. The bid came in approximately 570-something thousand over the estimated price, over the money available, so the (commissioners) have to decide what they’d like to do,” Austin said.
Road, drainage and sidewalk projects are all otherwise moving along, Austin said. They are either complete, under construction, pending right of way acquisition or making their way through county and state approval processes.
Fraser did give the county props on coming in under budget on a Norwich Street repaving project but asked why the actual cost was so far off the mark. The project came in roughly $163,000 under what was budgeted.
“Every once in a while we get a win,” Austin said. “A broken clock is right twice a day and all that.”
City Engineer Garrow Alberson followed up with a report on Brunswick’s projects.
A project to run a sidewalk from Glynn Middle School to the neighborhoods to the north is moving along and is expected to begin soon.
A segment of L Street east of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is currently closed while contractors rebuild the road. The project started six weeks ago, Alberson said, and is anticipated to take a year to complete.
When designing drainage improvements for the Magnolia Park area, Alberson said the city found it would likely have money left over. It could be spent on the much larger College Park drainage overhaul, but that has yet to be decided, he said.
The city has already spent around $471,000 on Mary Ross Park, mostly repairing the dock, installing playground equipment and buying a splash pad. The pad hasn’t been installed yet, pending changes to the park’s master plan.
Restoration of historic city squares is also moving along, he said. City commissioners are mulling restoring Wright Square by removing the section of George Street that runs through it, similar to Hanover Square on Newcastle Street.
Speaking last was Andrew Burroughs, interim executive director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission.
The utility’s north mainland sewer reroute project hit a snag, he said. Running cured-in-place pipe in the Dock Junction area necessitates going under railroad tracks, and working with the railroad companies can be a chore, he said.
Major improvements to a sewer bottleneck in downtown Brunswick are under design, with completion expected by summer of 2020.
The committee’s next meeting is set for Aug. 28.