ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Laying the groundwork for future projects and getting a bearing on how to pay for them were key topics discussed this week at the annual Alpharetta City Council retreat held at the Hotel at Avalon.
Though no official action was taken at the Sunday and Monday workshops, city officials discussed some of the priorities they said they’d like to see in the coming year.
Mayor Jim Gilvin introduced several big-ticket items he considered priorities.
The list included a major commitment to parkland acquisition. The mayor recommended committing $5 million to expand the city’s greenspace inventory.
“The challenge is finding the land,” Gilvin said. “It’s hard to argue against more greenspace.”
Development and improvements to existing parks can occur over time, but if the city is not ready to buy parcels when they become available, the opportunity is lost forever, he said.
Other items Gilvin addressed for funding included:
• $200,000 for the Hawk signal and pedestrian improvements on Marietta Street.
• $1.5 million for the roundabout at Hopewell Road and Vaughan Drive.
• $1 million for new restrooms at the Haynes Bridge Park trailhead and Marconi Park trailhead, plus major upgrades to restroom facilities at Wacky World in Wills Park and at the North Park softball quad.
The council retreat is held each year to provide members of the city council with time to take a deep dive into the city’s operations and aspirations before they begin work on the following year’s budget. Alpharetta’s annual budget runs from July to June.
Heads from all city departments report on the status of current projects and the possible needs on the horizon.
In the opening session Sunday, Finance Director Tom Harris reported that revenue trends so show a net gain in revenues over budget of $2.8 million. At the same time, he said, city expenditures will remain within budget, with the exception of several items approved by the council in the mid-year budget amendment.
Those adjustment items include:
• $100,000 to convert the Town Green to artificial turf.
• $40,000 to convert Broad Street to one-way, including handicap parking and loading zones.
• $785,000 toward the Lily Garden Place extension project.
Harris said the current budget status should accommodate the city’s planned performance–based merit pay increase, set for April 1. The employee pay raises average about 3 percent.
In his report to the council on Monday, Public Works Director Pete Sewczwicz provided the council with an update on one item that has garnered a lot of attention of late.
Sewczwicz said early design ideas arrived just that morning on possible solutions to a safety issue raised by residents along Rucker Road.
Residents from the Seasons Trace condominiums, just to the south of the major roadway, say a new roundabout threatens their lives and property. The condominiums sit downgrade from Rucker Road, and residents protested in 2016 when plans called for scalping much of a berm and vegetation that separated their units from the road.
The fears became reality in December when a vehicle left Rucker Road and careened downhill into a backyard, taking out a gas grill just feet from the unit.
City Council members told residents earlier this month they would work quickly to find a solution.
Sewczwicz said Monday that the latest proposal calls for a four-foot high concrete wall extending about 200 feet between the roadway and the condominiums. He said the wall would have a veneer facing and would be located within the current right of way.
Early estimates, he said, have come in at several hundred thousand dollars.
Public Works is also weighing other options, he said. One is to create a berm to separate the highway from the residences. Another option is to install a guardrail.
Sewczwicz said it could be a few more weeks before detailed estimates will come in on the three options.