Group OKs road project start on Fort Gillem


David Lockhart

FOREST PARK — Members of the Forest Park/Fort Gillem Implementation Local Redevelopment Authority green-lighted the start of a road project inside the former Army base.

Forest Park Mayor David Lockhart cast the sole vote against granting a contract to Atlanta-based Lowe Engineers without comment during Wednesday night’s Authority meeting.

However, he earlier voiced opposition to any road re-alignment that would divert traffic away from Forest Park, saying to do so would mean taking money away from the city.

Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt disagreed with that proposal.

“If you want to help your image, have the road come out into Lake City,” Oswalt said. “Take that any way you want.”

But the $228,352 contract, as explained by Authority Executive Director Fred Bryant, doesn’t set the road realignment into stone at this stage.

“Part of the project includes widening Hood Avenue to four lanes and having it connect back to Forest Parkway, within the city limits of Forest Park,” he said. “I know there are issues and concerns with where the road can connect back into Forest Parkway.”

Because of its configuration as a military base, Fort Gillem is accessible by a west gate at Ga. Highway 54 and an east gate at Ga Highway 42. Hood Avenue bisects the base, connecting the gates.

Lowe Engineering was one of four firms to be evaluated by a team that included Forest Park Planning and Zoning Director Al Wiggins, Finance Director and City Clerk Mike Blandenburg and fire Assistant Chief Matt Jackson.

“They scored well over 90 percent — 94 percent,” Bryant said. “The others scored 80 percent or under.”

Bryant said the federal Office of Economic Adjustment will pay 90 percent of the contract.

Apparently two companies in negotiations to locate inside the former base aren’t ready to reveal their identities as Bryant had hoped they would by Wednesday’s meeting. They’ve been referred to in public as “Jasper” and “Bluebird” to preserve the integrity of the proposed deal.

“I heard today that ‘Jasper’ may be making a decision quickly,” he said.

The Authority meets again at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 at Forest Park City Hall. The meetings are open to the public.