A concerned citizen addressed the Thomaston City Council about several issues with community parks and the closing of the computer lab at the Civic Center at the council’s regular meeting on October 20. Rhondalynn Traylor spoke on behalf of the Thomaston Improvement Association and asked the council for their help with finding a solution to the problems.
Traylor stated the improvements to the Park Street Playground are coming along very well, however there has been an increase in gang violence in the area lately and some gang members have taken to spray painting graffiti on the playground equipment. She stated the Thomaston Police Department has been informed of the issues at the park and asked to investigate the matter, however no arrests have been made as of yet. Traylor also stated the surveillance cameras that were installed have been taken down during the construction of the new bathroom facilities and the TIA would like to know why they were not placed somewhere else during the construction period.
Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold assured Traylor that new equipment will be installed once the construction at the park is complete, and noted it will be a better version than what was out there earlier. However, she would need to speak with City Manager Patrick Comiskey to discuss why it was not put up somewhere else at the park during construction. As for the gang-related issues, City Attorney Joel Bentley suggested Traylor set up a meeting with Captain Sidney Corley at the Thomaston Police Department to discuss her concerns.
Another concern Traylor brought up dealt with the upkeep of the community parks. She noted some of the parks in the community are not being maintained as well as others and children in the community are not even able to play a simple game of softball because the fields are not being cut. She also alleged the Civic Center is charging $100 to use one of the fields there and would like to know why some a high amount is being charged for something that is for the use of the entire community. Bentley stated through the service delivery agreement with Upson County, the county is in charge of maintaining the majority of the jointly owned parks. The only parks the city is in charge of maintaining are the Park Street Playground and Weaver Park and she would need to speak with County Manager Jim Wheeless about any of the others needing care. Traylor was also told she would need to contact Recreation Director Mindy Daniel in regards as to why the fee has gone up for use of the softball fields at the Civic Center.
A final concern brought up by Traylor was in reference to the computer lab located at the Civic Center. She told the council the lab has been closed for nearly two years and it is putting a hardship on citizens, especially those who could use it to search for employment. Traylor stated the Workforce Development office is rarely open and the library charges patrons $1 per page to fax documents, which may not seem like a lot, but is very expensive to someone who is unemployed. When trying to find the answer as to why it was not open, Traylor stated she was told it was due to no one reapplying for the grant.
City Councilmember Patsy Perdue told Traylor the computer lab was originally funded through a grant through the Family Youth Children Alliance (FYCA) for $50,000 and had to be used to pay someone to be in the lab and take care of it. However, that particular grant changed and was no longer allowed to be used to fund the lab. She stated the school system also applied for a grant to be able to keep the lab open, but they were denied the funding. Mayor Arnold told Traylor funding for the lab is something that could be looked into again when the city and county discuss the joint projects and their budgets.
In other business, the council approved a contract with Legacy Water Group, LLC for the Silvertown Southeast Village Project for $2,338,604. This project consists of moving and replacing the water lines from residences on E. Goodrich Avenue and the 4th Street, 5th Street, and 6th Street area. Attorney Joel Bentley stated the water lines will be moved from the back alleys to the front yard and reconnected at no charge to the resident. However, in order for the project to move forward, each resident in the affected area needs to come by his office to sign a right of entry document to give the go ahead for city crews to move the lines. Bentley stated a letter was sent to those who would be part of the project and he asked that everyone who has not signed the document to please do so in the next few days so the project can begin as scheduled. Mayor Arnold added this is a project that will benefit the entire community.
“This will give added efficiency for our water system and eliminate leakages in the old pipes that have existed for so many years,” said Arnold. “This will be good not only for the residents of the area, but also for the whole community.”
The council also approved up to $56,000 to be used for the purchase of a hydraulic excavator for the water and sewer department. Victor Cozart, Project Manager for Severn Trent Environmental Services, who handles the city’s water and sewer department, stated the city does have a hydraulic excavator presently, however it has been around for 10-15 years and has seen its use for life. Approval was also given to spend up to $60,000 for the replacement of sewer lines on Reeves Terrace.
During the meeting, council members signed a resolution of support for the Georgia Department of Transportation for the roundabout project at the intersection of Highway 74 and Highway 36, commonly known as the five way stop. Mayor Arnold stated he looked forward to the construction and opening of the roundabout, noting that it will add an enormous amount of efficiency to the area.
Finally, following an executive session, council members unanimously approved the purchase of a piece of property, located at 511 Matthews Avenue for $1,045.79. The city plans to clear the lot completely and then either offer it for sale or build a house on it for the Community Development program run by Kay King.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1