This is the second part of a two-part story continued from Wednesday’s edition.
Hinesville City council discussed flooding concerns, code enforcements, a proposed youth council and downtown development Friday during their annual workshop.
District 3 Councilwoman Vicky Nelson brought up flooding problems experienced by Griffin Park, Pineview Court and Pacific Place residents. The city’s engineer presented reports on each area and recommendations for permanent fixes.
Pacific Place/Gulfstream Drive, according to Paul Simonton of P.C. Simonton and Associates, has about four areas with sink holes along the road’s edge where the curbs and gutters have sunk over the last 20 years, he said. Previous repairs were made, but have not withstood and may potentially cause further drainage issues. Simonton recommended that repairs be included on the city’s 2018 Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) list.
Pineview Court is currently listed as number two on the LMIG list for resurfacing, Simonton said. The road was originally constructed as part of the Evergreen Subdivision in the early 1970s. The inspection, he said, shows ditches are irregular and driveway pipes don’t work well. Simonton suggested scheduling roadside ditch maintenance before any LMIG resurfacing is done.
“Roadside ditch maintenance can be unpopular,” Simonton said. “It will likely damage lawns.”
Griffin Park’s underdrain likely malfunctioned and flooded a roadway, Simonton continued.
“We’re going to work on the corrugated metal pipe study and a plan for replacement,” Simonton said. “We’ll look at the places in the road, continue to do investigations, and will investigate specific places for a specific solution.”
Council reviewed the policy and procedures in place regarding the city’s code enforcement. City Manager Ken Howard said the code enforcement team had increased activity from 2017.
“We’re addressing as many activities and violations as possible,” Howard said. Currently, there is a six month code enforcement plan in place—focused on particular areas and code violations. The city significantly increased the amount of violations they addressed regarding overgrown and unmaintained housing, parking restrictions, and inoperable vehicles and parts in 2018, as compared to 2017, Howard said.
For a staff of three officers, Howard says he is pleased with the department made this year.
“They’re doing their best to keep up,” Howard said. “We’ve looked at how the activities compared year-to-year and the activity has vastly increased.”
District 2 Council Member Jason Floyd asked Howard to create a draft for a Hinesville youth leadership council for possible implementation next year. The proposed idea is based on Tybee Island’s established program.
“I brought this up because it’s important to me. Young people don’t always have a voice, or it’s not always heard,” Floyd said. “If we can engage them at a young age, and let them know their opinions matter and we’re hearing their voices.”
Howard looked at other cities with similar concepts, and developed a rough idea. The youth council would be a Hinesville sponsored, community-based, leadership program for high school students within city limits, Howard said. There would be mandatory orientations, meetings, and other requirements made of student participants, so as to mimic local government. The youth council would follow the Liberty County School System’s academic calendar, he said.
“We want to get this in place for this coming school year,” Howard said. “It’s a very creative idea for the youth.”
The proposed HYLC would operate under the direction of the mayor and council, as well as the community development department. However, the youth council would elect its own officers, establish its own committees, plan its own program year, develop a budget, and write by-laws, according to the rough draft.
“When applying for college, this can be a difference maker,” Floyd said. “Their extracurricular can take them over the edge.” Council supports the creation of a youth leadership council and encouraged Howard to move forward with plans for a program.
District 1 Council Member Keith Jenkins asked to address downtown development. Hinesville has invested $183.6 million into downtown from 2008-2017, according to Howard.
Major investments included $21 million for Bradwell Institute, $20.2 million for the Liberty County Justice Center, $12 million for the Army Education Center, and $10.5 million for Memorial Drive and Central Ave. The remainder of investments are under $10 million.
The intent is to first study the downtown area and review previous plans and studies, as well as existing conditions, Howard said. The city will conduct a market analysis, develop a schedule and timeline, and reach out to the public for feedback.
In 2003, Council reactivated the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, the entity responsible for many of the activities that draw people and businesses to downtown.
“We’re at the point where we need to look at where we are and we’re going,” Howard said. The goal is to increase activities and foot traffic in downtown after 5 p.m., he said. Working closely with Council, the HDDA focuses on programs like the Second Saturday Block Parties, to engage the public.
“A lot of the merchants in downtown are suffering, because there’s not enough foot traffic,” Jenkins said.
According to Mayor Allen Brown, all of the vacancies on Commerce Street are spoken for, but one, so the draw to the area is growing.
“We do need a plan,” Howard said. “It’s the next step in developing the downtown area.”
Editor’s note: A few items from last week’s story on the annual city workshop need clarification. Council member Kenneth Shaw was a first responder and has since retired. As for discussion regarding representation on city boards, the takeaway is this: council will review the list of boards, but cannot legally adjust term limits for all the boards as some appointments are bound by legal requirements.