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Riverdale to make improvements along Ga. 85

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The City of Riverdale has selected a consultant to help it make use of an $850,000 transportation enhancement grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Acquired by the city in January, the grant aims to aid downtown development by helping the city make Ga. Highway 85 more pedestrian friendly.

The city has also selected a contractor to create a master plan for the yet-to-be-named city park on Wilson Road, which will replace facilities at Travon Wilson Park, currently a construction site for the new Riverdale Town Center. The master plan will help shape the look and feel of the park, according to city officials.

The Riverdale City Council voted on these items, and several others, during its regular business meeting on Monday.

The City Council voted 2-0 (with councilmen Rick Scoggins and Wayne Hall abstaining) to allow Pond and Company, an architectural and engineering firm, to provide consulting services for the improvements to Ga. Highway 85. The council also voted 2-0 (Scoggins and Hall abstaining) to contract with Lose & Associates, a landscape architecture firm, to provide master planning and consulting services for the park on Wilson Road.

Riverdale Public Works and Community Development Director Doug Manning said the $850,000 transportation enhancement grant will help the city create a streetscape along Ga. Highway 85, which will include sidewalks, mid-block crossings, and intersection improvements. He said the city will be required to financially match the money by at least 20 percent ($170,000).

"This project is tied to downtown development," Manning said. "Riverdale doesn't have a physical downtown presence. If you ask anybody to point to a downtown area, they couldn't tell you where it is." He said the project will help "denote that this is a downtown area."

Manning said the contract with Pond and Company will allow the city to "work on the design phase" of the project "and prepare construction documents for the bidding." According to city officials, the project will include landscaping and sidewalks along Ga. Highway 85 between Lamar Hutcheson Parkway and Roberts Drive, as well as mid-block crossings between Rountree Road and King Road.

Manning said the city will likely break ground on the project late next year.

Manning said that through the contract with Lose & Associates, planners will seek public input on what features the park on Wilson Road should have.

"We will conduct public meeting, charettes, to get a sense of what people would like to see in their park," Manning said. "In the course of that, we will be looking at the kind of resources we will need, financial and non-financial. After the master plan is finished, my department will go before the mayor and council and present that plan to the mayor and council, who will either agree or disagree."

Manning said completing a master plan for the park will increase the city's chances of procuring federal and state funding to help with the construction phase of the park. He said the approximate cost of the master plan services will be $19,000.

The Riverdale City Council also voted Monday to amend ordinances pertaining to the city's Planning Commission, Board of Appeals and fire marshall.

The council voted 2-0 (Scoggins and Hall abstaining) to change the term limits for people serving on the Planning Commission and Board of Appeals from five years to three years. According to City Manager Iris Jessie, the move was made to "give people who want a chance to serve more opportunity."

The council voted 2-0 (Scoggins and Hall abstaining) to give the fire marshall the ability to give formal citations to those in violation of fire codes. In turn, the council also voted 2-0 (Scoggins and Hall abstaining) to amend the city's charter, making citations issued by the fire marshall recognized by the city's court.

Jessie said that prior to the change, the fire marshall would be required to call a code enforcement officer to the scene of a violation to write a citation. The change, she said, will free up resources in the city's Code Enforcement Department.

"I just makes common sense," Jessie said. "It eliminates having the code enforcement officer having to drop what they are doing to go to a location where there is already a city official."