Originally designed to be completed at once and cover a larger section of the city, the Streetscape initiative has had to be divided into multiple sections due to budget constrictions and an original under-estimation of the cost to the city.
“It’s going to be over-budget for the areas that we wanted to get done,” said LaFayette mayor Neal Florence.
“For whatever reason the engineer who designed this, their estimate appeared to be very low compared to the first bids, and we could not get any additional funding through the state sources so we were forced to re-bid this,” said LaFayette city manager Frank Etheridge. “As part of re-bidding, we broke it down into specific sections.”
The state of Georgia allocated approximately $250,000 for the second phase of the Streetscape project; the first phase, which was completed last year, runs in front of the courthouse and its adjacent buildings on South Duke Street. Other roads intended to be included in the project will have to be re-bid as part of a third phase at a later date; the council is hopeful that future grants will be obtained for these sections as well.
“We’ll just name it Phase Three,” said Etheridge.
The city must input a total of $62,500 of its own funds toward the upcoming second-phase project in order to make it work, an amount questioned by some council members as exorbitant for city beautification in such harsh economic times.
Should the project not move forward or were the city to withdraw its contribution of $62,500, the nearly $250,000 in funds from the state, which are earmarked for this project only, would be lost.
“The grant money cannot be used for anything other than construction,” said Rod Robertson, director of the La-Fayette codes department. “So the money we’re contributing will be going toward engineering.”
The second phase of the project includes sidewalk construction and beautification on one block each of East and West Villanow Streets and one block of South Main Street adjacent to The Bank of LaFayette.
“It’s more than just sidewalks,” said Etheridge. The Streetscape project includes not just sidewalks, but new street lights and re-striped parking along the designated streets, which is designed to improve traffic safety, espe-cially in the many tight parking areas around the LaFayette square.