$30,000 f0r downtown plan

City debates MDD funding of project

Rockdale City Council members approved a $30,000 downtown master plan Monday, after a lengthy discussion.

The vote was 4-0 with council member Joyce Dalley abstaining. She and Mayor Larry Jones voiced concerns about the expenditure, to be funded by the city’s Municipal Development District (MDD).

Meeting in regular session at City Hall, the council also heard two FM 908 residents raise questions over a December traffic incident and made several appointments to city boards and panels.

MA STER PL A N—The master plan will be prepared by Halff Associates and was proposed by the Rockdale Downtown Association. The MDD agreed to fund the project but final approval was up to the city council.

Dalley said she was supportive of the goal but that she felt many businesses were unaware such a master plan was being proposed .

“I would like to have seen more opportunity for participation from the community, with P&Z (Planning & Zoning), the Cham- ber, the City and the community being made more aware of what is being discussed,” she said.

“What about other organizations who might be coming to the MDD to ask for money?” she asked.

Mayor Jones sa id he a lso “would like to have seen more involvement with more of the downtown businesses before we do planning.

“ Not ever yone dow n there is aware it’s going on, that it may impact their businesses, what they are able to do, may be required to do or may impact them financially.”

‘ GR A SS ROOTS’— Collier Perry, MDD board member, said the master plan will be prepared based on the input and guidance of the downtown businesses themselves, not a template prepared by an out-of-town firm.

“ This will be a grass roots effort,” he said. “ They (Halff Associates) will talk to every property owner. It (the master plan) will be generated by Rockdale people with Rockdale ideas.”

Gary Griesbach, MDD board president, said the downtown master plan is viewed as a “first step.”

“The heart of economic development comes with a downtown area first,” he said. “It’s one step at a time.”

Council member Allan Miller said he has been told his auto dealership is both inside and outside what’s visualized as “downtown Rockdale.”

“Whether I’m inside or outside, whether I knew about this (master plan) or not, let’s say they get something going downtown and things start happening. This will help the whole community. This is an investment,” Miller said.

“Rockdale is too small a town to be ‘them vs. us’,” Perry said.

LINES DOWN—Walter Hurd and Preston Gates spoke to the council concerning a Dec. 20 incident in which a “wide load” hauling a crane, struck power and cable lines on Oak Street (FM 908), damaging homes and utility poles.

Hurd said he felt the driver should have been cited, making the situation easier for residents to recover damages.

Police Chief Thomas Harris said the company was permitted for the haul and that the driver proceeded as instructed by law enforcement personnel after the incident. “He did not commit any criminal act,” Harris said.

Harris said a civil suit remains the best option for the residents to recover damages.

APPOINTMENTS— The council filled a vacancy on the MDD by appointing Glen Fatheree to the position.

Other appointments were made as follows:

Planning & Zoning Commission— Lon Williams, Joyce Ford and Lin Perry, three years; Barkley Alford, Georgia Richards and Judith Slusher, one year.

Library board—Liz McQuitter, Don Stockton, Michelle Earley, three years.

In other business, the council:

• Called the 2012 city election for May 12, pending any date changes which may be needed based on the ongoing redistricting litigation. Terms of Miller (west ward) and Willie Phillips (east ward) are expiring.

Other council action:

• Okayed wastewater dewatering improvements by Patin Construction of Taylor.

• Accepted rehabilitation of the airport and runway water wells and other utility projects.

• Okayed a replacement plan for the city street sweeper while it is undergoing repairs.

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