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Jonesboro approves Phase 2 Streetscape plans

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Jonesboro City Council voted unanimously on Monday to move forward with Phase 2 of it's downtown Streetscape Project.

Mayor Luther Maddox, however, said the city may pursue a scaled-down version of it's original plans for downtown, if it is unable to receive federal stimulus funding assistance, by way of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

According to Maddox, the second phase of Streetscape, which includes curbing, sidewalk, and aesthetic improvements along Main Street, north of Spring Street and south of College Street, would cost approximately $2 million under the city's original plan. He said, depending on access to stimulus funding, the city may forego burying utility lines along sections of Main Street to save money.

"We have two different ways to go about Phase 2 of Streetscape," he said. "If we can get the grants from the state, we'll build it one way, but if we have to use city money, we will scale it down. We'll have to do the rights-of-way acquisition, and the engineering work, no matter what option we choose. We'll come back to approve the money."

Phase 1 of Streetscape, which includes burying utilities in Jonesboro's central downtown area, is under construction, and is expected to be completed by February 2011. Maddox said the $2.7 million spent in Phase 1, was paid for using stimulus funding, in the form of a GDOT grant.

According to Maddox, the city will save approximately $750,000, if it chooses not to bury the utilities for Phase 2 of Streetscape. He said the city plans to go to GDOT in August, and ask for stimulus funding for the second part of the project.

"I'm working to get on the state DOT's agenda for August, and I am going to go forward with a shovel-ready project, like we did with Phase 1," Maddox said. "If they have to have the money committed by Sept. 15, I will be there with my hand out."

Maddox said Sept. 15 is the deadline by which GDOT has to allocate it's share of money from the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009.

In another action, the city council voted unanimously to stagger, and alternate, the terms of members of the Jonesboro Housing Authority. The agency oversees Section 8 housing within the city limits. Under the new guidelines, two members of the authority's five-member board will serve three-year terms, two members will serve two-year terms, and one member, who is a housing resident, will serve a one-year term.

City Councilwoman Pat Sebo, a member of the housing authority prior to being elected to the city council, said the resolution would help maintain "continuity" of the board members.

"I think staggering terms is always a good idea, so you don't have to replace the whole board," Sebo said. "It's better for the city, because you don't have a new crew coming in all the time."

The two-year terms of housing authority members, Emmett J. Arnold, IV, and James Henry, will expire on June 9, 2012; the three-year term of Janice Cline will expire on June 9, 2011, and the one-year term of Therese Guidry will expire on June 9, 2011, according to the resolution.

There is currently one vacancy on the housing authority. It occurred when Sebo assumed her duties on the city council.