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Gainesville eyes $43.5 million in SPLOST projects

POSTED: June 16, 2014 1:13 a.m.

As Hall County voters ponder the prospect of approving a new five-year round of special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII, this fall, local government officials have worked behind the scenes to develop a “wish list” of projects to be funded.

As reported in The Times on Sunday, Hall County has identified about $223 million in SPLOST projects — everything from road and sewer improvements to public safety upgrades and park renovations. This figure includes about $44 million in municipal distributions.

But the city of Gainesville alone has already identified about $43.5 million in projects.

Public works projects account for nearly $16 million in proposed funding.

This money could be directed toward road resurfacing for Palmour Drive, Lakeshore Drive and Mountain View Drive, among many others; transportation plan implementation of projects like the Enota Drive realignment and intersection upgrades at Jesse Jewell Parkway and E.E. Butler Parkway; and storm drainage projects along Sherwood Park Drive and Boone Street.

Setting priorities on these projects “will all depend on the amount of funding our (proposals) receive,” Public Works Director David Dockery told The Times in an email.

About $21 million is eyed for parks and leisure projects, with about $14 million aimed at building a new youth sports complex.

The proposed sports complex would include six baseball/softball fields, a multipurpose football field, tennis courts, playgrounds and trails, plus concessions, restrooms and parking.

The identified location is the intersection of Monroe Drive and Allen Creek Road on a 368-acre city-owned property in council Ward 3.

Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper said the complex is the No. 1 priority and may have to be built in phases.

If the parks department receives additional funding, Cooper said it would be directed toward renovations at existing city parks, including lighting and electrical improvements, new trails, concessions and playgrounds, and drainage upgrades.

Meanwhile, about $1.2 million has been proposed to fund renovations at the Senior Life Center.

Gainesville-Hall Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss has said the renovations are necessary to handle a growing retiree population, particularly as baby boomers move out of the workforce.

Finally, $5.5 million has been earmarked for public safety spending, including the purchase of a new fire truck and replacement of fire station No. 2 at Holly Drive and Piedmont Road.

Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough said the station, built in the 1950s, has several structural deficiencies. For example, he said, fire trucks cannot fit in the fire house.

“To renovate would cost a lot of money,” Yarbrough said. “So we’re going to either redo or replace it.”


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