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Wheels still moving on multi-modal center

A proposed multi-modal transportation facility still has thegreen light after all.

City Engineer Carl Ray Furr Tuesday discussed moving forwardwith a scaled-back version of the facility, although Mayor BillGodbold three weeks ordered work on the project stopped. However,Furr said $3 million in federal funds for the project were approvedfor Brookhaven.

“It’s difficult to stop a project once we got it under way theway we got it,” Furr said.

Godbold, frustrated at a July 15 board of aldermen decision tohalt work on a new city hall, ordered transportation facility plansstopped. After Tuesday night’s meeting, though, he expressedcomments similar to Furr’s.

“The people in Washington have gone so far and can’t stop,” saidGodbold, referring to congressional help in landing the funds forthe city.

While the city had planned to seek $4 million in federal funds,which must have a 20 percent local match, Furr said the facilitywould now be done in phases.

“We’re going to stop right now and let the board decide whichdirection we need to go in,” Furr said.

Furr said engineers are looking at Phase 1 of the project andwould be answering a number of questions in two weeks at the nextboard meeting.

“We’re going to give a very detailed presentation on themulti-modal center…,” Furr said. “We’re going to take it one stepat a time in building that facility.”

The facility is proposed to be located between Court Street andWillard Street. Furr said the property would serve as the city’srequired local match.

Furr said the facility would be more than a train station.Earlier plans have included train and bus facility, a museum andpossibly retail space.

In other city projects, Furr said officials are finalizing agrant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for$414,000 to pave the airport’s runway.

“That will get the airport running in good shape,” Furrsaid.

Also, Furr anticipated having a preliminary draft of an airportfeasibility study in about 30 days. The study is looking at whetherto expand the current airport on Heuck’s Retreat Road or build anew one in the future at one of several sites to be identified inthe study.

Furr said Brookhaven has been put on the high priority list forfederal discretionary general aviation airport funding. Anyallocated funds must be obligated within three years.

One possible new airport site would be closer to a proposed newindustrial park west of the city. Also, Furr mentionedlight-related problems associated with the softball complex nearthe current airport.

“There’s a lot of things we’ve got to look at,” Furr said.

In another city project, Furr said he hoped to be able toadvertise in two to three weeks for paving of downtown Brookhavenstreets. He said the board could then award a contract in Septemberand the work start shortly thereafter.

“Downtown will look great for Christmas,” Furr said. “That’s ourgoal.”

The city has accumulated over $400,000 in federal surfacetransportation funds to do the paving. The work would concentrateon streets affected by last year’s installation of new water linesfor the Whitworth Fire Loop.

INDUSTRIAL LAND SALES

Aldermen approved two sales of industrial land for businessexpansions.

Chandler Russ, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceexecutive vice-president, said a 5.88-acre sale to Barnett Truckingwould allow that operation to expand and add about 10 new jobs. Theproperty adjacent to the company site on Industrial Park Road wassold for $35,340.

Ten acres of land on Eastpark Lane between MayFab and the city’sfiring range was sold to an existing local timber operation for itto manufacture railroad timbers.

The property was sold for $60,000 and the project will meanabout 15 to 20 new jobs, Russ said. He added the company had agreedto work around a communication tower on the site, and that accessto the police firing range and the old Saron Cemetery would bemaintained.

In another property sale, aldermen approved the sale ofadditional property off Brookman Drive Extension to the state for amental health crisis center. The purchase price was $90,120.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said draft information had been sentto annexation consultants for them to redistrict the city for afive-member board and a seven-member board if city expansion isapproved at a November trial.

With the city’s population currently under 10,000, the board issupposed to have five members. Annexation would boost citypopulation back over 10,000 allow the city to maintain the currentseven-member board.

Assuming victory at trial, Fernald said the city would proceedwith five-member board plans if the trial decision is appealed. Ifthere is no appeal, the city could go with the seven-member boardplan.

“We’ll be prepared to go both ways,” Fernald said.