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Design Rendering/Clark, Patterson & Lee A draft design plan for Main Street restrooms that was presented to Jasper City Council at their February meeting. Council has not yet approved restroom construction, estimated to cost over $918,000.

Council flushes old building: New Main Street bathrooms could cost $900k

City gets $500K grant for sidewalk project

            Residents will soon see visible progress on Jasper’s stalled Main Street bathroom project after council voted to demolish the old bank drive-thru building and build a new facility from scratch.

            Council was presented with design plans for a new restroom facility at their Monday, Feb. 6 meeting, with construction estimates coming in at $918,767. The design, which has not yet been given the go ahead by council, was developed by design firm Clark, Patterson & Lee.

            Council was presented with “pre-fab” restroom designs as an alternative, with the top tier of those designs coming in around $300,000, plus some additional costs.

            City Manager Sonia Jammes said the engineering/design plans from the firm were “beautiful” and “ornate,” but noted the pre-fab designs were “legitimate accommodations” that would do the job bringing restrooms to Main Street. 

            The city originally wanted to use the existing structure at the corner of Main and D.B. Carroll streets, but “we went back to our engineers and asked them to raze that structure and put in something brand new, so it’s taking more time than was originally intended,” said Jammes.

            Council decided to nix utilizing the existing building because it was found to be unfit for renovation. The façade is cut brick and plumbing is inadequate, among other issues that make it unsafe to build from that frame.

            “We had to go back and had no choice but to go from the ground up,” said Jasper Mayor Steve Lawrence. “Whatever we do we’re going to have to get rid of the structure that’s there now.”

            Council member Sonny Proctor commented on the project, which has been in the works since the city purchased the property from Entegra Bank for $100,000 in 2018. 

            “The timeframe issue was somewhat our fault in the early stages, then for whatever reason took longer than [Clark, Patterson & Lee] anticipated,” he said, noting that the firm has done “exactly what we asked them to do.”

            “The difficult thing is obviously the cost,” he added, “but it’s also such a prominent location in our city that most of the pre-fab structures that I’ve looked at really wouldn’t be satisfactory.”

            The city considered “single-seater” restroom options too, but Proctor said that would not accommodate the volume anticipated as the city business and tourism continues to grow.

            “I’d be willing if we had the money to move forward with this project,” he said. “But I also think some of the things presented with us today are somewhat attractive.”

            The city currently has $81,207 SPLOST funding earmarked for the project, but Jammes told council there is funding in place for other projects the city could reallocate to the restrooms.

            “We would definitely need to do some creative accounting when it comes to getting some more funding,” she said.

            Following a question from council member Jim Looney, Jammes said there could be long-term funding available.

She stressed that the $918,767 is an estimated construction cost, which could come in under or over that price. It was noted that the city paid an additional amount to have that estimate validated through expert opinions.

            Council ultimately voted to allocate the earmarked SPLOST funding to demolish the existing structure and bring design plans back to committee for further discussion.

             The restrooms are the first phase of a larger enhancement project for that area of North Main to encompass the historical area with the jail and Peace Park.

City receives half million for sidewalk expansion

            At a work session last week, it was announced that the city will receive a $500,000 grant to fund engineering and work on sidewalks, according to later comments from Mayor Steve Lawrence.

            Lawrence said top priority will be extending the sidewalks farther south on South Main Street to reach the city limits.

            “Boy, this will be a great thing for everyone,” he said.

            Engineering will look at other sidewalk needs as well.

            County government is  looking at a possible new sidewalk north from Roper Park to connect with the city’s planned extension, linking downtown to the park. However, a sticking point for the county is finding a right-of-way and working around a sewage line that runs along the road there.

Parade routes standardized

            All parades on Main Street, barring one, will use the same route after a unanimous vote from council. The decision will reduce strain on the police force, and save the city money and time as well, leaders say.

            Jasper Police Chief Matt Dawkins said discussion came up after last year’s Night of Lights Christmas parade, which “took every resource this city had to shut down roads.”

            The standardized route will have floats line up on Stegall Street, then take a left on Mark Whitfield, a right on D.B. Carroll Street, then a right on Main Street. This will apply to all parades except the Veteran’s Day parade, which will flow the opposite direction because they end at the Veteran’s Memorial Park for their ceremony.

In other news from council:

            •Council rejected bids for upgrades to the existing fire station to explore using allocated funding and possible grants for a second station along Highway 515.

            •The city approved $60,000 for additional work needed to complete their Utilities Master Plan project, which is a study of the city’s infrastructure.  Goodwin Mills Caywood (GMC) is conducting the study of the city’s water and wastewater systems, the latter of which has been slower coming. “That is largely due to our lack of information about structures,” which mostly involve the city’s manholes, city assistant city manager Kim Goldener told council. The money will fund a survey of the city’s 800 manholes. The study will be paid for through the city’s enterprise funds. 

            •A request to annex a 14.44 acre parcel on West Church Street into the city at C-2 Commercial was tabled due to a technicality related to new rules for notifying the board of education. The request will be brought before council at their next meeting.

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