veterans park site

Plans are still in the works for a Veterans Memorial Park at this site between I and J streets on Newcastle Street in downtown Brunswick.

A roughly $600,000 project to improve drainage in the Pier Village district on St. Simons Island will get underway in November, immediately following the last major event of the 2018 tourist season, county commissions decided Tuesday.

The project to improve the flow of stormwater and increase retention capacity will kick off after the Oct. 27 Georgia-Florida college football game in Jacksonville, an annual event that draws thousands of mostly Georgia Bulldog fans to the island for that weekend. Work is expected to wrap up by March, meaning the necessary road and sidewalk closures in the Village’s shopping district will not occur during the busy summer months, said Burke Murph, of the company hired by the county to design the project.

Commissioners gave county staff approval Tuesday to proceed with the timeline during a special called meeting at the Harold Pate Building, 1725 Reynolds St.

County staff preparations will begin in August and the project will go out to bid in early September. Commissioners expect to accept the best contractor’s bid later that month.

The first phase of the project will involve replacing curbs and gutters and replacing and removing asphalt at several locations in the Village. These include areas of Mallery Street, Kings Way, Beachview Drive and Oglethorpe, Butler and Lord avenues. Smaller drainage pipes that hinder the flow of stormwater will be replaced along Mallery Street, Beachview Drive and Lord, Oglethorpe and Butler avenues.

Merchants, residents and visitors can expect temporary closures of roads, sidewalks and parking spaces in these areas during the construction phase.

However, there will be no work on weekends.

“Therefore, work should end at 5 p.m. Friday and not pick up again until Monday morning,” said Murph, of Georgia Water and Environmental Services.

Commissioner Allen Booker noted that construction will begin just as the Christmas holidays are starting. The time frame for the 150-day project was chosen to avoid such disruptions during the height of the busy summer tourist months, said Dave Austin, County Public Works Director. Austin said the county will meet with Village merchants before work begins.

The second phase will involve increasing capacity of retention ponds in the Village and upgrading the stormwater release system in one of those ponds.

Flooding has long been a problem in the village, and many merchants keep sandbags at the ready to stave off rising stormwater. In addition to Hurricanes Matthew and Irma in the past two years, an unexpected deluge one evening in August of 2015 brought more than 4 inches and caused serious flood damage in the village.

The overall gist of the project is to “get the water out to the (St. Simons) Sound faster and have less flooding issues in the community,” Murph said.

Also Tuesday, Commissioners reviewed a preview of the proposed Veterans Memorial Park, planned for the open space between J and I streets along Newcastle Street in Brunswick.

The park would feature a foot bridge over a retention pond leading through a narrow grove of native trees. A sloping green beyond this would face the main stage at the other end of the park. That circular, raised stage would have room for speakers and performers in front, with several black granite monuments behind it. There would be one each of 6 feet by 4 feet dedicated to five branches of service — Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard — and the Merchant Marines. The centerpiece would be a 10 foot by 6 foot monument honoring the local veterans who fought and died in various wars for this country.

The park as presented was estimated at $1.7 million, but commissioners agreed that the cost must come down to at most $1.5 million. Rather than skimp on quality, a public fund-raiser such as selling memorial paver bricks could possibly make up the deficit, commissioners agreed.

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