The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

April 27, 2009

Major sidewalk project planned

By Karen Middleton

The city of Athens has received nearly $400,000 in stimulus package funds through the Alabama Department of Transportation to build a greenway, or major sidewalk project, on the east side of Athens.

Monday, the Athens City Council approved on a four votes and one abstention from Councilman Jimmy Gill to build the about a mile-and-a-half of sidewalk. Gill abstained from voting because he said he did not understand how the city’s portion would be funded.

The city has to provide a 20-percent match to the $385,000 coming from ALDOT, which $77,000. Out of those funds, the council approved a $25,000 fee to Taz Morrell Engineering to draw plans for what is officially known at the U.S. 31 Pedestrian Facilities and Streetscape Project.

However, this portion of the project does is not adjacent to U.S. As outlined in a memo from Public Works Department Director James Rich, one leg of the sidewalks will extend southward down Lindsay Lane from the roundabout at Nick Davis to Publix shopping center. The other leg would extend eastward from the roundabout to Linton Road.

Marks said the $77,000 in matching funds would come from city reserves.

Mayor Dan Williams said the city had applied for $1.8 million in stimulus funds in sidewalk, parking lot and three building projects. In total, the city applied for $21.3 million in stimulus money to fund 25 projects, which includes several large utility projects.

“I received eight letters turning down eight projects,” Williams told the council Monday.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Awarded to low bidder Keenum Construction the $545,490 job of building a rail spur to Custom Polymers in Elm Street Industrial Park. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will administer a Community Development Block Grant for $200,000 for the project; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide a $160,000 grant and the remainder of the funding will come from Limestone County and from the company.

• Approved Derrick, Inc., of Birmingham as the low bidder at $90,000 for a new Digger Derrick Unit for the Electric Department.

• Approved low bidder Garnet Electric of Florence at $320,293 for an upgrade to the Athens District Electric Substation.

• Approved purchase of a new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA) at $51,900 for the Utilities Department to replace a 1990s model for which the department can no longer obtain replacement parts.

• Re-appointed David McPherson to the city of Athens Board of Education.

• Made a one-time-only appropriation of $20,000 to the Family Resource Center to see the agency through the calendar year.

• Approved purchase of a pick-up truck from the state bid list for the Building Inspection Department for $18,189

• Approved hiring four temporary workers for General Fund Departments for $22,000; four temporary workers for the Utility Department for $22,000.

• Suspended the rules to vote on a recommendation by the Athens Planning Commission to change the zoning of the Limestone County Events Center and Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives from its present M-1 light industrial to B-4 Central Business District.

• Approved a permit to sell alcohol for Burrito Express, 1260-C U.S. 72 East. The permit will have to go to the Alcohol Review Board and then back to the council for final approval.