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City council agrees for library to use portion of parking lot for library construction staging area

A portion of a city-owned parking lot located east of Roddenbery Memorial Library will soon become a staging area for a multimillion dollar renovation project soon to be underway at the public library.
Architect Steve Hart of Ellis, Ricket & Associates of Valdosta, along with RML Director Pamela Grigg, met with the Cairo mayor and council Monday night to discuss the request to utilize a portion of the city parking lot during the two-phase renovation project.
Hart explained that the library is virtually landlocked and the only area for the general contractor to establish a staging area would be in the neighboring parking lot.
According to the architect, 99 percent of the work is interior renovation and all that the parking lot will be used for is a fenced-off area where metal storage/shipping containers can be placed as well as metal duct work and other construction materials.
The contractor said he plans to erect a temporary chain link fence, which Hart said would not be put into the ground or cause damage to the existing asphalt.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas questioned how heavy the shipping containers are and noted that the asphalt in the parking lot is old. “As long as they are responsible for repairing anything they damage,” Douglas commented.
Councilman Jerry Cox asked when work would begin and how long the project was estimated to last. According to Hart, work could begin as early as Jan. 23 and the contract allows up to 365 days, however the actual duration, Hart said, would be determined by the amount of time it takes to transition from phase one to phase two of the project.
Hart told the city council that the north half of the building would be renovated first and then crews would move to the southern half.
SC Barker Construction Company of Valdosta is the general contractor on the project.
The library officials are seeking to use the northern most section of the city parking lot and that is the area where construction crew members will also park during construction.
The state of Georgia awarded the public library a $2 million capital grant to pay for the modernization project. Donors have helped with matching funds and further fundraisers are planned to help equip the library with new furnishings.
Included in the project are the renovations of public bathrooms near the east entrance, creation of study rooms, slight relocation of the circulation desk, and reconfiguration of interior spaces behind the circulation desk. In phase two, the children’s area, library director’s office, genealogy room and auditorium will be renovated.
The council voted unanimously to grant the request made on behalf of the library.
In other business Monday night, the council:
•Voted to cancel its Jan. 22, 2018 meeting to avoid a conflict with the Georgia Municipal Association Mayor’s Day Conference in Atlanta and the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership meeting.
•Discussed the department reports. Councilman Cox noted that in December the city police were called to investigate only one case of shoplifting during what was probably one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. He also questioned the 48 business alarms police responded to. Cox asked if all 48 were false and if so how the issue was being addressed. City Manager Chris Addleton acknowledged that 48 seemed high for one month and said he would check with the police chief. City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman said that the city has an ordinance regarding false alarms and after a certain number per month a fine is levied.
•Heard a report from the city manager that city crews were wrapping up the filling in of potholes around the city created by the knuckle-boom truck that travels around the city collecting yard debris and trash from along the roadside. According to Addleton, all of the known holes would be filled in by the end of the month. Douglas, Cox and Councilman Bobby Gwaltney all said that the dirt would need to be compacted to be done properly. The threesome warned that unless the dirt is compacted it would cause future problems. Gwaltney said that holes along streets to be resurfaced this year should get priority.
•Heard comments from Councilman Douglas regarding litter within the city. He shared with each member of the council a recent article from The Albany Herald concerning litter issues. “You can ride up and down every street in town and there is trash everywhere,” Douglas said. The councilman said it concerned him the amount of trash that ends up on the property of elder residents, who are not able to pick it up.

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