The City Council approved, in a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Philip Goldstein abstaining, a plan to ask city staff to determine if the mayor’s plan for the Square would be feasible.
City Manager Bill Bruton said he will form a group of city employees with representatives from almost every department, including Planning, Public works, Economic development, Parks and Facilities, Police, Fire and Marietta Power to discuss the plan.
Bruton said the new committee will begin talking this coming week (beginning Monday, Aug. 18) about Tumlin’s suggestions to widen sidewalks, add parking meters, add bathrooms and get dumpsters off the streets around the Square.
“I think, basically, we turn this over to the staff and say, ‘How feasible is this?’” Tumlin said.
City employees will look into how much the improvements will cost and how long it would take to finish them.
“I would anticipate giving an update to the council within the next 90 days. It is too early to predict when a final report would be presented,” Bruton said.
Members of the City Council discussed the plan at its Aug. 11 meeting and asked the committee to look into the suggested changes for the surrounding business district as well as the Square, which includes the streets connecting to the Square.
After the committee of city staff considers the plans for the Square and gives a report to the council, it will be up to the council members to decide where to start on the project.
“I’m thinking that we would bring back a series of possibilities, and then the council would decide which one they wanted to go forward on,” Bruton said.
Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said the council didn’t have to take any action on the plan once it is presented.
“I do want to temper expectations, because how would we fund it?” Kelly said.
Tumlin has suggested using money loaned from the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, or using money the city could collect by installing parking meters on the Square.
Bruton said the money could come from the city’s current budget.
“We don’t have money existing in current (special-purpose local option sales tax) funds, so we’d have to plan for future SPLOSTs or we could go to reserve funds the city has,” Bruton said.
The city’s fiscal 2015 budget, which went into effect July 1, includes a reserve of $15.2 million. Bruton said that money is set aside to be used in case of a catastrophe, a surprise downturn in the economy or a large city project.
Kelly said the mayor’s suggestions are not concrete.
“When (the committee) comes back with the examination, (council members) may add other things,” Kelly said.
Councilman Stuart Fleming suggested inviting others in on the conversation about the Square, such as the Marietta Redevelopment Corporation.
“When I think about the MRC, I think about how these are the types of people who would love to have input — not necessarily decision making power — but input,” Fleming said.
The City Council also approved spending money to appraise property it is eyeing for a new tourism center, which was one of Tumlin’s suggestions to improve the Square.
Council voted 6-0-1 vote, with Goldstein abstaining, to use $2,500 from the tourism fund to appraise a few properties.
Goldstein would not specify his reason for abstaining from the vote.
Tumlin declined to specify which properties the city would appraise, but he has previously suggested Goldstein’s property at 77 North Park Square, an empty lot, could be a good spot for the new tourism center.