By Kenna Walsh

The Valdosta Daily Times



VALDOSTA — Traffic discussions that topped City Council’s Tuesday work session moved one step closer to becoming solidified as councilmen pressed for approval and additional public input.

On the table were proposals to widen Country Club Drive from Jerry Jones to North Valdosta Road; widen Jerry Jones, Eager Road from Oak Street to Gornto Road; and permanently one-way Oak Street with a possible extension up to Alden.

Councilmen voted to move forward with phase one of the Country Club Drive project, which will add a center turn lane from Jerry Jones to Moss Way, creating three lanes. Public input will be sought for phase two, which will install two left-turn lanes at North Valdosta Road and Country Club Drive and require additional widening.

The proposal to OK widening Jerry Jones, Eager Road to four lanes was postponed until February to allow a public comment period on the project’s various stages, which could include federal funds to repair the Millpond dam.

The idea to permanently one-way Oak Street and extend it up to Alden was voted down, and instead an additional trial period of six months was approved to study the initial phase, which runs from Baytree to Moore. Extending the street to Alden was not included.

Also during the meeting, City Manager Larry Hanson said Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari, Valdosta State University president, and university staff are hiring a consultant to study the parking issues around bordering VSU residential areas. Residential complaints sparked the city to consider extending the do-not-park time from 1 a.m. to 11 a.m. instead of 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. The hope, City Engineer Von Shipman said, was to encourage students to buy the $50 VSU parking decal and have students park in designated lots.

Hanson said Zaccari confirmed the university wishes to build a parking deck to further remedy parking issues.

Councilman David Sumner, District 5, said he was concerned that a year or more could pass before residents were eased of parking burdens because of time for the study and construction of the parking deck.

Shipman said university officials confirmed VSU has adequate parking lots for student needs.

The study will be presented to councilmen in the spring.



Also decided:



• Councilmen unanimously approved the rezoning of .54 acres from Multi-Family Residential to Planned Mixed Development to allow an extension of the TEACH ministry. A new, one-story facility will house multiple families — women and children — and have a community center and medical unit on-site.

Elsie Napier, TEACH representative, said the home will provide a safe environment for HIV positive or substance-abusing women who wish to rebuild their lives in a nurturing, safe environment.

The request was recommended for denial from planning staff because the rezoning is in the Pinevale neighborhood, one of 13 neighborhoods the city designated for revitalization.

Commissioners with the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission voted to recommend approval at their November meeting because of TEACH ministry’s past successes.

• Councilmen approved a request to extend the Highlands subdivision by annexing and rezoning 33 acres.



Appointments:



• Council appointed Gary Minchew to the Valdosta Lowndes County Industrial Authority Board. Minchew will replace Martin J. Miller whose term expires Jan. 1.

• Royce Coleman, Sue Cox and Becky LaHood were appointed for terms 1, 2, and 3 for the Central Valdosta Development Authority.



Bids:

• Council approved the bid to improve Troup Street from Gordon to Vallotton for $1,239,512. The bid was awarded to Rountree Construction. Shipman said in 2003, the initial cost was projected at $750,000 but added construction with drainage improvement and other problems pushed the cost to $950,000, and increased overall construction costs took the price higher.

Council also awarded the following bids: $19,163 to Langdale Ford for a new Parks and Rec truck; $407,360 to Beck Motor Company for two refuse trucks; $23,798 to Dodge of Valdosta for a new public safety truck; and $22,658 to Tri-Global Tech for a global positioning system to aid the engineering and utilities department.

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