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Snellville to start project at Oak Road Park

SNELLVILLE — The first step in a potential project at Oak Road Park was given approval on Monday.

The Snellville City Council approved to release a request for proposal to clear invasive species, small trees and a 10-foot-wide strip to make way for a trail. Councilman Mike Sabbagh said the city needs to move forward with a passive park, and made the motion that was approved unanimously.

“I’ve got a lot of reservations about Oak Road Park as originally suggested in the Master Plan,” Councilman Dave Emanuel said. “It started off at $600,000, then went to $750,000, my estimate is it’s going to be a $1 million deal before it’s all done. It’s a lot of money to spend for very limited access. … A reasonable budget gets us off to a good start.”

City manager Butch Sanders said the money to pay for the project comes from nearly $2.2 million generated from the 2009 special purpose local option sales tax in the recreation category. But about $1.8 million of that was estimated to repair the softball field and parking at Briscoe Park.

“We are very close to breaking ground on the project,” Sanders said.

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts said his plan to have the trees cleared and a path created on the exterior puts the park on the map for Gwinnett County. Witts also mentioned partnering with the county to build sidewalks for better access.

“Oak Road Park has been a problem, and the problem is transportation. People can’t get to it,” Witts said. “But the park is only one half of the plan I have for the park. All this is going to do is put our park on the radar for the county.”

Witts said in his discussions with the Board of Commissioners, the commissioners suggested if the city put a percentage aside from 2014 SPLOST, it would better increase the chances of it being a funded project.

In his city manager’s report, Sanders also said he’s made progress on the LCI streetscaping project, but construction bids have increased about 10 percent over cost estimates since the economy has recovered. Sanders said approval from the Georgia Department of Transportation is expected within two weeks on the project that’s now expected to cost about $2.2 million, to which Snellville is responsible for about 20 percent.

A moratorium was lifted on Monday for assisted living group homes in Snellville after the City Council approved an amendment to a zoning ordinance.

The moratorium had been in effect since earlier this year, and Monday’s action grandfathers in facilities already registered with the city and state. Special uses will be permitted for the group homes or “collective residences.” City Attorney Tony Powell said the amendment gives the Council some teeth, but decision-making isn’t totally discretionary with the Council.

Powell also presented legal documents in the ethics case involving Rome resident George Anderson for approval of an order by the Council for declaratory judgement in the case. In a hearing last week, Anderson apologized for a frivolous ethics complaint raised about the city’s ethics ordinance and Emanuel and Witts. Powell said there was no basis for attacking or publicly humiliating Emanuel and Witts, and Anderson withdrew public and private statements related to the case.

Mayor Kelly Kautz made proclamations that Thursday would be Amanda Riley Day in Snellville, and encouraged residents to participate in a “gold out” at the Brookwood High football game on Sept. 27 in honor of Riley, a three-sport athlete at Brookwood who died in 2010 following a battle with cancer. Kautz also made a proclamation for Constitution Week and honored the sons and daughters of the American Revolution.