Commission chair talks ongoing projects, sanitation

Published 9:15 am Friday, June 2, 2023

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Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews spoke at the LaGrange Kiwanis Club meeting on Thursday to provide an update on ongoing county projects and answer questions.

Crews highlighted several ongoing construction projects in the county and LaGrange, including the new Oakfuskee Center at Pyne Road Park.

The 17,000-square-foot multi-use facility will include two levels with classroom and office space for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.  Crews said the exterior walls and roof have been completed and workers are starting on the interior. When it opens, it will seat about 250 to 300 people.

The county plans to rent out the center for corporate events, weddings, family gatherings and other events. Crews said the facility has already been booked for six events before it has even been completed.

Crews said the county hopes to have it open by December. He said the county plans to resurface the roads in the park when construction is nearing completion. The county is also working with Diverse Power to get high-speed internet to the facility.

“You’ve got to go see it for yourself. When you’re on that main floor and looking out over the corner of the lake — that part of the lake that is probably the widest part of West Point Lake — that is an absolutely gorgeous view,” Crews said.

Crews said the long-term plan is to try to create more recreational opportunities out of Pyne Road Park.

Crews also touched on ongoing discussions with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) about the “bad curve” on US 27 Hwy and Vernon St.

Crews said GDOT is currently doing a study on Hwy 27 and is considering rerouting it to the South Davis Bypass by the mall.

“They’re convinced that the best solution is to turn that bad curve, which kind of turns to the right and heads downtown. They want to turn it a little bit to the left and to take it into the Davis bypass somewhere around Youngs Mill Rd. and then turn it into a four-lane to the mall,” Crews said. “We’re not really excited about that because we feel that there’s a ton of traffic already around the mall.”

Crews said plans are already in the works for GDOT to widen South Davis Rd. to four lanes from Hogansville Rd. to Lafayette Pkwy. He said the county agrees with that change, but they are currently in discussions for an alternate option for the “bad curve.”

Crews stated Vernon St. is also a concern because of the increased traffic from the new Publix shopping center and the upcoming apartments that will be built nearby.

The Callaway family has agreed to donate the land on their side of Vernon St. to widen it to a three-lane road.

“That’s a big step for them to be willing to give that land to widen on the road,” Crews said.

Crews said the problem is going from three lanes to two near LaGrange College, but that’s an issue for the City of LaGrange. He said even if GDOT does agree to widen the road it will take a while.

“I’ve learned that whenever [GDOT] tells you they’ll start working on something, it’s at least five years out. Nothing happens within five years, so we need to get started now.” Crews said.

Crews also touched on sanitation services and answered questions about the upcoming turnover to Martin Environmental Services.

“The county has gone through a process of trying to make a decision of what was the best for trash. It certainly is met with a lot of people concerned and criticisms about it. We had a system that has served us well for about 40 to 45 years. But the idea in today’s world of collecting trash and convenience centers is just going out,” Crews said, noting that all of Alabama has switched to curbside pickup.

“The system was unfair the way we charged everybody. Every property owner in Troup County pays the sanitation tax. Everybody. The majority of people didn’t know sanitation was stuck on their tax bill,” Crews said.

Crews said people in all three cities — including businesses — were paying twice for sanitation. He noted that Walmart Distribution Center was paying about $8,000 a year for their sanitation tax for a service they don’t use.

Crews said they made the decision to franchise out sanitation service when costs rose from $411,000 in 2017 to over $2 million in just a few short years.

“It’s just gotten very, very expensive. So anyway, we made that decision and on July 1 the plan is to kick it off with a company called Martin Environmental,” Crews said.