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Over $6 million to be spent before lake can fill

Grady County Commissioners now know just how much more money they must spend to satisfy the mitigation requirements of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Tired Creek Lake project.
On Tuesday night, the board unanimously approved a holding agreement between the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Inc., and the Grady County Board of Commissioners of $5,980,000 for 107,385.65 stream credits, which the county needs to fulfill the mitigation requirements of its federal 404 permit authorizing the construction of the 960 acre lake.
The agreement approved this week outlines how much of the $5,980.000 should be deposited into two Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Inc. accounts. According to Kevin S. Cauley, attorney for Grady County, any unused funding will be reimbursed to the county upon the completion of the Land Trust’s project in the Withlacoochee Service Area.
Cauley reported to the board and the public that the county’s permit modification related to mitigation had been issued by the Corps. “We are now in a position to enter into this agreement,” Cauley said.
The county attorney noted that if the cost of the Land Trust’s project exceeds its projections the additional cost would be the responsibility of the Land Trust and not the county.
Another piece of the puzzle is the mitigation stabilization project. According to Cauley, the county’s representatives have solicited bids for the work and a final estimate was not available Tuesday night, but the projected cost for the stabilization of the mitigation could be as much as $120,000.
The actual cost of meeting the mitigation and stabilization requirements could be reduced by any damages the county recoups from its consulting engineer Kent Campbell. According to the Corps, the county’s deficiency in mitigation credits was due to failure in stream construction and unauthorized field revisions to the approved mitigation plan.
“This is another step closer to what we wanted to do,” Vice Chairman Elwyn Childs said Tuesday night and Commissioner T.D. David noted “a big step.”
“I just hope we can recoup part of it,” Commission Chairman Charles Norton commented.
The cost of obtaining the necessary stream credits and mitigation stabilization will take all of the remaining $5,885,382.18 from the 2015 $10 million bond issuance originally designated, in large part, for financing of construction of boat ramps, a marina and other amenities at the lake.
According to Carlos Tobar, Grady County administrator, only $5,885,382.18 remained in bond proceeds as of the end of February. Tobar is projecting the county will have to expend another $454,892.00 from its cash reserves to cover outstanding invoices related to the lake project as well as the mitigation stabilization, which will leave no bond proceeds for amenities or boat ramps.
There has been no public discussion of how the county commission will pay for the amenities at the lake.
County officials say they are anxious to get water in the lake.
“This puts us closer to being able to close the dam and begin filling the lake,” Chairman Norton said Tuesday night.
The commission’s action this week also authorized Chairman Norton to execute the holding agreement.
In related business this week, commissioners unanimously approved payment of additional engineering fees to consulting engineer Stacy Watkins of Watkins & Associates.
Tobar presented the board with two change orders that increased the costs of engineering fees for two projects related to the Tired Creek Lake project.
Tobar recommended payment of an additional $1,500 in engineering fees to Watkins for revisions he had to make in the engineering of water and sewer conduit laid across the lake bottom. According to Tobar, the changes were required to keep the crossing out of restricted buffers, which resulted in a longer run of pipe. Even with the change, the administrator said the county saved $66,000 by using county labor on the project.
Tobar also recommended paying an additional $7,200 to realign State Park Road to avoid disturbance of an earthen dam built close to the existing roadway.
“This will keep us off the dam, which could open up an ugly can of worms,” Commissioner Ray Prince said.

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