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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
February 7, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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February 7, 2018

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February 7,2018 Page 7C porter t t I By Diane Glidewell As Forsyth city counc'fl sets its list of what it would like to accom- plish in 2018, gateway improvements and eco- nomic development were tied for second behind a tie for first priority of annexation and blighted properties/code enforce- ment. Gateway improve- ments were defined as making the roads that lead into downtown Forsyth more attractive. Economic development refers to encouraging growth of existing and new businesses. The emphasis in gate- way improvements is on Tift College Drive and North Lee Street from where they exit 1-75 and come toward downtown. Proposals for improve- ments include repaired and upgraded lighting at the interchanges as well as better litter control and landscaping at the exits. That is combined with landscaping and signage along the roads as they lead to Forsyth's business district. 'The advantage in Forsyth is the dichotomy of the interstate and downtown," said Mayor Eric Wilson. "First is getting them off 1-75 to stop [and then come to the business dis- trict]," said council mem- ber Greg Goolsby. ,Closely connected with gateway improvements, but considered important enough by council to give it its own listing among priorities, was building an archway across N. Lee Street. Goolsby initiated adding an archway to the list of 2018 priorities, saying it will bring more people to downtown. He said an archway will show ownership by the city of its gateway streets. He cited an arch- way in Macon with the name of the city and a heart. It was suggested the archway be modeled on the Tfft College arch. There was no discus- sion of an exact location for the archway, although it tied for third on coun- cil's list of priorities for 2018 with preparing for a 2020 SPLOST referen- dum. Wilson said that eco- nomic development was also one of council's top priorities in 2017 and in 2016, when Wilson took office and first held a city retreat where council members voted on their priorities for the year. Goolsby said that one aspect of economic devel- opment Should be the city becoming more involved with development of the Indian Springs Industrial Park, which is in the city limits. "We need something in the entertainment realm," said council member Dexter King. '~rhis is something I have been aware of all my years with Department of Corrections. They bus [cadets] in on Sunday and drop them off until Friday evening. Those guys go to Macon." Council member Michael Dodd said the city should also attract travelers off of 1-75 to an entertainment venue. ''We should work on recruitment of a major sit-down restaurant, like Applebee's or Cracker Barrel and a touch-free car wash. It would fit well in our footprint," said council member Julius Stroud. ?[Forsyth economic dezcelopment director] Michael [Norris] is work- ing with the guy from ECG [Electric Cities of Georgia], but it comes down to demograph- ics," said Wilson. "New residential growth drives community growth. The community drives for the electric provider." '~Department of Corrections [cadets] and Georgia Public Safety Training Center [train- ees] are a captive audi- ence," said King. In 2017 council set get- ting a new city hall as its top priority. Because there is action toward a new city hall, it was not included in the 2018 pri- orities, although a loca- tion and a specific plan for a new city hall has not been announced. City employees have moved / f: / % out of the old city hall, which needs repairs, and it now sits empty on the square. The city's utility customer service employ- ees have moved into the Public Safety Complex, and the city manager, mayor, economic devel- opment director and their staffs have moved into the upstairs of the Welcome .Center. Council contracted with Clark Nexsen, a Macon architectural design firm, and has discussed building a city hall near its public safety complex on Kimbell St. It bought some additional property near the public safety complex in 2017. It has held numerous closed door sessions to discuss "land acquisition, etc." during 2017. At its Jan. 21 meet- ing council voted, 5-0, to advertise to rezone the land it purchased to "Institutional" and to make setbacks required " on it 0 insteadof 25 feet Hall said that 31ark Nexsen has developed a rendering of a potential city hall with the offices Forsyth wants but there is not enough room for it with the 25' setbacks. "As soon as we do that [get the zoning changes made], he'll be ready to come and do more," said Hall. Council member Melvin Lawrence asked that the city study the rates it charges for utilities, possibly to lower some of them. He also asked if telecommunications companies are paying the city fair rates for using city poles. Council asked Hall for data from the tag reader the city has been using on a trial basis to read car tags. "A bypass is not hap- pening. We need to focus On trucks by-passing the weigh station and coming through Forsyth," said Goolsby. Hall said that part of the problem is an app directing drivers through Forsyth, includ- ing residential areas, as the most direct route. It is especially a problem when big trucks follow the app. A Wellness Initiative/ Mayor's Fitness Challenge was drscussed but not included as a sep- arate priority for 2018. Wilson said there is a the city has a June 10-week challenge set up deadline for the five- on a website that can be year review of its service adapted locally, delivery plan. "The idea is to decrease The state requires that sedentary lifestyle and local governments have decrease adult and guidelines for delivering childhood obesity," said services to their citizens Wilson. "We want to and review those guide- involve as many local lines periodically. The entities as possible, like city and county have to the hospital, health work together on their department and gym." plans. Wilson said that the Hall said that Middle wellness program for Georgia Regional city employees reduced Commission is working Forsyth's insurance cost on updating Forsyth's by $160,000 and lowered service delivery plan. the co-pay by $500. He However, the maps in said the program for the plan the Regional employees allows them to Commission has pre- take 20 minutes each day pared only show city to walk, and they earn services within the city 15 minutes off for each limits whereas the city mile they walk up to two provides services, espe- days off. cially water and sewer- Anyone can par- age, to residents and ticipate at any level in businesses that are in the Mayor's Fitness Monroe County but out- Challenge. Wilson said side city limits. he saw a sign advertis- The city's desire to ing the Mayor's Fitness annex some of these Challenge in another city areas is pertinent to the and immediately began future service delivery gathering information plan. Since the update about it because it is is the plan for the next something he wants to do five years, Hall said it is in Forsyth. Goolsby sug- important to get expand- gested tying in a health ed maps in it. fair and screenings with Council member Dodd the challenge, asked Hall to request an '~here are a lot of pos- accurate map of the city sibilities in 10 weeks," and the areas that get said Wilson. "A seminar services from the city. on healthy eating is one." Hall said that she has "I would love to help such a map; Dodd asked out on this," said Stroud. that it be posted so that At its Jan. 21 retreat it is available for review. council appointed Dodd, Stroud and Goolsby to [RusselMl I an ad hoc committee to I" "," study the city s service I delivery strategy with i S0uthemSt equmetl the intention of asking county commissioners to IS u~emSt~Qu~tet~bein " I appoint three members to the committee. Wilson ionFebm yiSdunng emom g directed the city's three . l o iph r. members of the commit- tee to meet within the IThe quartet consists of Ten,/B~er next two weeks because I of Fors~, Roger FreemanofGray, Full Service Collision Center 40 Years Combined Experience Certified Technicians We Work With All Insuiance Companies FREE Estimates! land KrisSn and Danny F~ of McDonough. All have gospel music for many yeas with other groups before coming togelber as lhe SouthanStyte Quatet. The concet will be dudng lhe 11 a.m. worship service. A love olfedng will be taken for lhe group. Rus- sellville Baplist Church is located on Russellville Road just off Georgia Highway 42 south', aout 15 minutes from downtown Forsyth. 177N. 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