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West Point reviews recreation improvement plan

At the Tuesday West Point City Council work session, the council and mayor reviewed plans for recreation improvements that have been discussed for some time. Now, the city is now ready to bid the projects out.

The first project involves the Sixth Avenue Park, where proposed improvements would be made to add a 6 foot concrete sidewalk and walking paths, an asphalt parking lot that can accommodate 24 vehicles and a playground with sections for children ages 2-5 and another for children 6-12 years old. Also proposed is additional seating for parents or guardians that accompany children to the park. West Point City Manager Ed Moon said the work will be completed in two separate phases with the playground being completed in phase two. 

The second recreation project is in the city park. Moon said that project would include adding 6-foot, interconnected walking paths throughout most of the park. The project will also add a pedestrian bridge over the stream where the softball field connects to the parking lot. Finally, under the plans, several pedestrian crossings would be added at street crossings along Avenue C, Avenue D and the entrances to the Givorns parking lot. 

“We have a lot of pedestrians that are currently walking in the streets, just making their own way on the Avenue C entrance to the park,” Moon said. “I think this will be a really important improvement for pedestrian access in the park.”

Both projects will be funded using SPLOST funds.

Also discussed during the work session was the surplus of several city vehicles. Eight police vehicles and two utility vehicles that are no longer in service will be placed on GovDeals.com for auction.

When asked by Councilwoman DeeDee Williams if the city would be replacing these vehicles with new vehicles, Moon said a lot of these vehicles had been held on to for a while, and the West Point Police Department was using them as backup. 

“There were two new police cars purchased this year,” Moon said. “Then, of course, we have the cars that Kia is allowing us to use for a specific period of time.”

If passed by the council, the lot expected to become available on GovDeals.com will include four Ford Crown Victoria’s ranging from 2008-2010 model years, two 2013 Dodge Chargers, a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2006 GMC 3500 utility vehicle and a 2008 Ford F-150 utility vehicle. 

Councilwoman Sandra Thorntonsaid she requested the council review city council compensation. 

“I’ve been on the council since 2003 and the last adjustment or increase that the city council had was in 2005,” she said. 

Thornton said she realized that many councilmembers may find the topic taboo but felt it was important to at least compare and discuss. Thornton also said she hoped the council could work together and possibly develop a committee that could look into a potential increase. 

“I feel like we have all worked and earned this because times are different — 2005 is a long time,” she said.

Currently, West Point council members earn $3,000 annually, which is comparable to other cities with the population of West Point. For perspective, Hogansville City Council earns the same annual compensation and has a population of approximately 600 less than West Point and conducts the same amount of meetings. In a stark contrast to that, the City of Lanett has nearly double the population and meets only twice a month, with the council receiving $8,400 annually. Lanett’s council and mayor received raises in 2019.

In other business, the council will also consider making Juneteenth a paid holiday for city employees, reviewed the application for Marshall Sapp to remain on the Hawkes Library Board for another term, and are still waiting for resumes for the two municipal public defender candidates. 

Mayor Steve Tramell also made two proclamations to start the meeting. The first proclamation was to make the week of April 26 through May 1 Hike/Bike/Run Week in support of Valley Haven School and the other proclamation was to make the week of April 11 through April 17 National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

Before closing the meeting, Williams asked for an update on the mediation proceedings for Service Delivery Strategy. City Attorney Alex Dixon said mediation has been tentatively scheduled for April 23 although Dixon was uncertain if that has been confirmed with the county. “I’m not sure if that’s been confirmed with the county and the city, but mediation is at least at this point scheduled for April 23,” Dixon said. 

Dixon also said they are still working on the selection and agreement of the mediator. 

“We are working through the selection and agreement of the mediator,” Dixon said. “There is also some discussion about at least one possible meeting with the mayor and county and city managers and the county chairman and attorneys prior to that April 23 mediation,” Dixon added.

Williams asked that an SDS update be added to all agendas moving forward so the council can be updated on how the process is progressing. 

Thornton announced that The Village will have 1,100 boxes of food to distribute at 111 E. 10th Street in West Point on Saturday, March 27 at 10 a.m. Thronton also announced tickets are available for the Ms. Southwest Classic Senior Beauty Pageant that will be held at New Horizon Theater on May 21 and 22.

The council will convene for another work session on Thursday, April 8 at 5:30 p.m.. and that session will likely still be conducted virtually.