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Retreat aims at city goals and priorities
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City Manager Billy Edwards said he, Mayor Jim Thomas, city council members, Assistant City Manager Kenneth Howard and City Attorney Linnie Darden will be among the leaders attending the annual planning workshop July 18-21 at Jekyll Island Club Hotel.

Assistant City Attorney Richie Braun may be there for part of the workshop, Edwards said. He said the annual workshop helps leaders set goals and priorities for the next year.

“We’ve got a list of topics we’ll be discussing,” Edwards said, referring to 29 issues the leaders will study during the workshop. “Each person who submitted a particular issue will be given a certain amount of time to talk about it. Then the mayor and council will decide an order of discussion.”

Edwards said some of the big issues slated for discussion include development along Veterans Parkway, a proposal for a convention center, redrawing district lines for the 2015 election and possible use of TSPLOST funds if the referendum passes on July 31.

Other issues include a proposal to ban pit bull terriers in the city, a transit study update and having better controls on businesses that buy precious metals.

He said Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier is presenting the report on development on Veterans Parkway between Highway 84 and Fort Stewart. Frasier is scheduled to show maps that depict current zoning and land use, along with proposed concept plans for development along that corridor.

Councilman David Anderson will discuss redrawing district lines for the 2015 election, Edwards said. He unrolled a large map that depicted the five current voting districts, pointing out that four of the five districts are “intact” and clearly distinct from the others.

One district, however, spreads across the southern and eastern borders of the city. It’s much larger, though covering a similar size population as the other districts, he said.

Edwards noted that many of the 38 issues brought up during last year’s workshop have been completed, or they are in the process of being acted on.

They included a redesign of Bradwell Park, an agreement to continue supporting Flemington Fire Department, making Highway 84 more accessible for the handicapped, changing the name of Frank Cochran Drive to Veterans Parkway and annexing “unincorporated islands” within the city to rectify service delivery issues.

“(An agreement to) redesign Bradwell Park is a significant achievement,” he said. “It’s part of our downtown re-development efforts. We’re trying to create a place people like to come to, like the farmers market. It’s a place of identity for the community.”

Noting that a design proposal has been approved, he said the city is looking for government grants and foundation funding to help pay for the project.

In January, the city made an agreement with Flemington to continue providing fire department support. However, the city no longer provides primary fire support services to unincorporated areas of Liberty County, he said.

Edwards said the city should begin receiving bids for construction required to make the curbs along 84 handicap accessible. Some areas were completed as part road construction earlier in the year, he said.

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