- The Gainesville City Council will look into the possibility of taking over operations at the Olympic rowing venue on Lake Lanier. Members said the property could be a major tourist boost for the city.
- Atmos Energy, the exclusive natural gas provider for most of Gainesville, has sold part of its business to another supplier. The City Council is requesting a state review in an attempt to possibly deregulate it, as has been done in other parts of the state.
- The council will have discussions about possibly passing an ordinance aimed at curbing panhandling downtown. Members said there has been “more than one complaint about it” from downtown visitors.
A multiyear, million-dollar-plus project to restore water quality to a Gainesville stream will likely move forward soon, following a City Council vote.
Gainesville’s public utilities department recommended the city move forward with the $394,000 design contract for the Cargill Stream Restoration Project, which is intended to aid the watershed in Gainesville’s midtown area. The project is part of the Flat Creek Restoration Project.
Horace Gee, the department’s environmental services administrator, said the plan is to restore two sections of stream in the midtown area from E.E. Butler Parkway to Georgia Avenue.
“My main focus, from our standpoint, is water quality,” Gee said. “Historically, Flat Creek has been listed as one of the most contaminated streams in the state. By doing this work right here — cleaning the area, daylighting the stream, getting the water flowing better — we’re hoping to help with the water quality in the area.”
More than 1,000 feet of stream from Marler Street to Bradford Street will be “daylighted,” or exposed; currently, that part of the stream is underground.
“We’re talking about opening it up where there’s no piping or culverts, where all the water is above ground,” Gee said.
That, he said, along with widening the stream and increasing the water flow, will help with the bacteria in the water.
“The fecal level in the stream here is very high,” Gee said. “What we’re trying to do is get the water, instead of sitting in pools, to get it flowing steadily through the area.”
A part of the project is to beautify the area around the stream and the existing pond. The area, which is currently fenced off, would be opened to the public once the project is complete.
“I totally support this,” Councilman George Wangemann said. “I can see this project as being a catalyst for restoration and beautification in that area, which is greatly needed.”
The projected cost is $1.8 million, but Gee said $800,000, or 40 percent of the project, could come from state grants.
He hopes to get the first grant of $400,000 this year to get the project going. That grant’s deadline is the end of October.
The project will take three to four years to complete, Gee said.
Flat Creek is a 6-mile waterway that cuts through Gainesville and unincorporated Hall County, eventually discharging into Lake Lanier.
It is listed on the state Environmental Protection Division’s Impaired Waters List.
“Along with the beautification, I’m going to be able to ascertain some great water quality benefits for the area as well as Flat Creek,” Gee said.
CH2 HILL was the only bidder for the design contract. The contract will be voted on during the council’s next meeting Wednesday.