Powder Springs approves $3.7 million downtown park, sale of water system to county

by Ross Williams, MDJ

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A rendering of the future park, courtesy city of Powder Springs.

Big changes are coming to Powder Springs, including a $3.7 million park connecting to the Silver Comet Trail and a deal to sell its water distribution and waste water collection system to Cobb County.

Both items were approved at the city’s council meeting Monday night.

Mayor Al Thurman has long been touting the park as part of a plan to bring new businesses to the city’s downtown.

“We’re excited, we’re just excited about it,” Thurman said. “You don’t think these kinds of things would take this long, but when you deal with engineering and planning, it takes a long time, but we’re excited it’s about to get under way.”

Thurman said work is slated to begin in March or April, and is expected to take a year to complete. The finished project will include amenities such as an amphitheater, splash pad and trailhead linking to the Silver Comet. The trail brings over 300,000 people into the city per year, and Thurman is hoping some of those hikers and joggers will stop by the new park – and patronize the city’s businesses – along their way.

Peachtree City-based JHC Corporation was the lowest bid on the project, which the city approved a $4.2 million bond to pay for in March.

The council voted 4-1 to accept JHC’s bid, with Councilwoman Nancy Farmer opposed.

“I didn’t vote to borrow the $4.2 million to do it, so I didn’t think I should vote saying I approved of the park,” Farmer said.

Farmer told the MDJ she agrees the city’s downtown needs a boost, but she doesn’t think spending millions on a park is the best way to do that.

“They think it’s going to bring the business, but it’s not,” she said. “And even if it does, where would they put businesses around the park? There’s no room for it.”

Powder Springs’ council also approved a $5.5 million purchase of Powder Springs’ water systems by Cobb County, a deal which should see residents’ water bills go down by 20 to 30 percent, Thurman said.

Customers served by Powder Springs’ system include most city residents and some customers in unincorporated Cobb.

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved the plan in December. Chairman Mike Boyce said taking over the water services would be revenue-neutral for the first ten years and bring in $500,000 annually for the county after that.

The council voted 3-2 to approve the sale, with Councilwomen Farmer and Patricia Wisdom opposed.

Farmer said she might have supported the measure if they had more information, but Farmer felt she didn’t have enough facts to vote for it.

“We weren’t in on it, so we didn’t know anything that was in the contract,” Farmer said. “We didn’t know anything until we saw it. … We may have agreed if we had all the figures, but we didn’t, so thats why I had to vote that way.”

The council also approved adding last year’s holiday bonuses to the budget. The city’s 64 permanent employees, not including elected officials or the city manager, received $150 each, and five temp workers each got $75. The funds came from budgeted positions in the police department that were not filled.

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