City DopeNews

Commission Set to OK Roundabout, Take-Home Cop Cars

The Athens-Clarke County Commission is likely to move forward with plans for a roundabout at the Broad Street-Hancock Avenue intersection, but may take another look at sidewalks in the adjacent neighborhoods.

The approximately $5 million roundabout, which would be funded partially by the state Department of Transportation and partially by local sales taxes, is still early in the design stage. A preliminary concept is scheduled for a May 7 vote, and most commissioners agreed that it will make the intersection safer by slowing down vehicles and adding crosswalks.

“We all know that intersection is so incredibly dangerous,” Commissioner Jerry NeSmith said at the Apr. 16 agenda-setting meeting. “We do need to solve that problem.”

Commissioner Patrick Davenport was the only one to object to the roundabout. He said nearby churches and businesses had contacted him in opposition. “Everyone I talked to 100 percent said they do not like this plan,” Davenport said.

Some commissioners took issue with plans for sidewalks on Magnolia, Paris and Waddell streets, though. Commissioner Melissa Link said those streets need traffic-calming measures like speed humps, not sidewalks. And the project includes nothing for the West Hancock neighborhood north of Broad, she said.

Commissioner Ovita Thornton, who joined the board in January, asked where the sidewalk recommendations came from. Manager Blaine Williams explained that they were originally part of a SPLOST 2011 Safe Routes to School project for sidewalks surrounding the H.T. Edwards complex, but that the county ran out of money before completing the Waddell Street portion. Neighborhood residents vetted the plans at a Hill First Chapel Baptist Church forum last year.

The commission also looks set to start allowing ACC police officers who live outside the county to take cars home with them. The county started offering that perk to officers who live within Clarke County in 2000, but it didn’t work as an incentive, as only half of ACCPD officers currently live in Clarke County, and it became a morale problem for those who live outside of Clarke.

If approved, the policy would be extended to officers who live within 20 miles of the county line, and to command staff and “critical incident responders” who live within 35 miles. This would save them time if they’re responding to a call on the way to work. It would cost the county about $68,000 a year for gas and maintenance.

Commissioners also appeared poised to approve a seven-house “pocket neighborhood” off Millard Avenue in Normaltown and tweaks to the previously approved plan for an Episcopal dormitory on South Lumpkin street.