New train hub delay

Published 6:37 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A city project that has taken almost a decade to finish will nowtake another few months to come to a conclusion, Brookhavenaldermen decided Tuesday.

The city board approved a Phase Three for the long-anticipatedmulti-modal transportation facility. The latest component of theproject, conceived about 10 years ago under the Mayor Bill Godboldadministration, will see the train station’s docking platform setat 400 feet instead of 80 feet.

Because of project bidding requirements, Mayor Les Bumgarnersaid the work will add at least another 60 days to the project thatwas expected to be completed next month.

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“I think by the first of the year we should have everythingpretty much done,” Bumgarner said following last night’smeeting.

The good news from the development, officials pointed out, isthat Amtrak has agreed to pay the 20 percent local matchcontribution. Bumgarner said that will amount to about $25,000 ofan estimated $150,000 price tag.

“We saved some money by holding off on that,” the mayorsaid.

The remainder of the funding will come from a federalappropriation the city has secured for the project. The time to usethose funds, though, is running out.

“I think we’re nearly finished, but we’ve got to get anotherextension,” Bumgarner said.

Bumgarner added that Amtrak will also pay $2,000-$3,000 forsignage directing citizens to the new facility on North RailroadAvenue. The city’s appearance committee was also activated to workon landscaping for the facility.

In other business Tuesday, aldermen delayed action on proposedcity ordinance changes that would allow residents to have targetpractice ranges provided they have sufficient property acreage.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell offered the changes afterfollowing neighbors’ complaints about a Gaston Trail resident’sfiring a gun while target practicing. With a requirement for aminimum 20 acres owned, the alderman estimated the situation wouldnot affect more than about 10 property owners in the expanded citylimits following 2007’s annexation.

Officials cited a number of concerns about the ordinancechanges, including language regarding what kind of weapons may beused and when, how far away from property lines the target practiceactivity may occur and other issues. Also discussed was thepossibility of a landowner needing to get a permit and have apractice range inspected by the city if it was going to be apermanent development.

Also last night, city officials opted to delay a vote on arestaurant’s beer permit request in deference to an absentalderman.

Recess 101 owners Eric and Teresa Moyer and their attorney BillBoerner appeared before the board to request a special exceptionapproval for a beer permit for the South First Street restaurant.Boerner said the Moyers had hit a “brick wall” in their efforts tolocate and obtain the necessary signatures on a required petitionnot objecting to the permit.

While Maxwell suggested more effort was needed to contactneighboring property owners, other aldermen indicated support forgranting the permit request. However, Ward Three Alderman MaryWilson – in whose ward the restaurant is located – was absent dueto illness last night and had asked several aldermen to take thematter under advisement.

Acknowledging Wilson’s consistent opposition to beer permitrequests, Ward Six Alderman David Phillips offered a motion togrant the permit. Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron countered with amotion to table the issue until next meeting out of respect forWilson.

The vote on Cameron’s motion was 3-3, with him, Maxwell and WardTwo Alderman Terry Bates voting for it. Phillips and AldermenShirley Estes and Karen Sullivan were opposed.

Bumgarner broke the tie in favor of tabling the matter.Officials expected the beer permit to be approved at the nextmeeting.

“I do believe we have enough support for it to pass,” Batessaid.

In routine matters, aldermen approved the observance ofHalloween on Saturday night, Oct. 30, instead of on Oct. 31 becauseit falls on a Sunday.