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Clayton County police waiting to hearing suitability of proposed animal control property

Deputy chief: Old landfill discovered at site

Clayton County police officials said they are waiting to hear a final report on the suitability of a proposed site for their new animal control facility before moving forward with construction. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Clayton County police officials said they are waiting to hear a final report on the suitability of a proposed site for their new animal control facility before moving forward with construction. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

JONESBORO — Plans to build a new Animal Control kennel approved by Clayton County voters nearly six years ago are on track, but could be delayed by a recently discovered trash issue, a high-ranking county police official has confirmed.

Deputy Chief Gina Hawkins said the police department is looking at building the new facility on a lot across Government Circle from the existing kennel in Jonesboro. However, she said the department is awaiting final environmental and land reports to see how much work would have to be done at the site to make the property suitable to house a kennel.

The department discovered last week the land, which previously had a storage facility on it, was at one time used as a trash landfill and the reports would show what would have to be done to fix that issue, she said. Another site will be used if the reports show it’s too extensive and expensive at the proposed property.

“We had people assessing the (land) levels and they realized it was a landfill, so we need to see what we need to do to make sure it’s built on solid ground,” Hawkins said. “I think environmentally, the preliminary report came back saying it’s not toxic, but it’s a thing of, ‘Hey, there is trash. Do we just have to take some of it out, or do we need to take all of it out?’”

Among the unfinished items from the county’s 2009 SPLOST, the animal control kennel is one of the projects that is more frequently asked about. Voters signed off on the new kennel as part of the special purpose local option sales tax approved in February 2008. The county has allocated the $4.1 million approved by voters for the project.

As the county moves forward with planning a proposed 2015 SPLOST, the issue of when the animal control building will be constructed has been raised regularly on Clayton News Daily’s Facebook page.

“I am concerned with the ‘new animal control’ we have been promised to no avail. Any info?” News Daily reader Kimberly Kirby recently asked in a Facebook message to reporters.

“We’re trying to keep everyone informed because we know everyone is waiting — we’re desperately waiting — for work to begin, but they’ve got to be reassured that no one wants this to move forward more than us,” Hawkins said.

The county’s SPLOST website, www.claytonsplost.com, lists December 2014 as the targeted completion date, but the landfill issue raises questions about whether that date can be met. Hawkins said the county has selected a builder and a designer, and is “80 percent committed” to the proposed site.

County commissioners also approved the hiring of Norcross-based Hogan Construction Group LLC to provide construction managerment at-risk services on Tuesday. Hawkins said Hogan will handle the kennel’s construction and the hiring of contractors.

While the department awaits final word on the proposed site, officials are already looking at centrally-located properties the county owns that could be used as alternative locations.

“We don’t want to hold up on anything else while trying to figure out what’s going on with the property,” Hawkins said.

Most 2009 SPLOST projects still ‘in progress’

Of the 48 county projects approved through what is known as the 2009 SPLOST, only seven of them have been completed, according to claytonsplost.com. The tax is commonly referred to as the 2009 SPLOST because collections began five years ago.

Twenty-seven of the approved projects, including the animal control kennel, are listed on the county’s website as being “in progress.”

The other projects listed as having that status include several road work and bridge replacement efforts, a county fueling center, a county records center, a countywide public safety digital network, library improvements, park upgrades, trails, a multi-purpose fire training building, a police precinct in Rex and renovations at the county’s correctional facility.

A new police precinct for the northwest Clayton area is listed as “pending” but only $50,000 of the $2.1 million approved by voters has been allocated for its design and construction so far.

The remaining 13 projects that have not begun and do not have any money allocated for them to begin include a parks and recreation administration building, two senior centers, a library branch for the College Park area, several more road projects and buses, paratransit vehicles and bus shelters for the county’s defunct C-Tran service.