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Springfield eyes sidewalk, drainage improvements

POSTED: July 28, 2014 8:04 p.m.
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Mayor Barton Alderman

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A day-long discussion by Springfield City Council members and key staff could lead to the go-ahead for several projects and improvements around the city.

City officials will look into such improvements as sidewalks and parking around the courthouse-Ulmer Park area, and also at more work in conjunction with the Springfield-Ebenezer Greenway.

On its to-do list, the city wants to resurface First Street between Ash and Cedar streets, make drainage basin improvements along First Street and work on the Early Street sidewalks.

“We’ve been talking about that for years and years,” Mayor Barton Alderman said of the Early Street sidewalks.

The plan is to finish those sidewalks and create a loop along Laurel, Ash and Early streets where people can walk without having to walk in the road, according to City Manager Brett Bennett.

The city also is looking at sidewalk improvements along Stillwell Road and Ash Street Extension. The city can perform the work on the Early Street sidewalks itself. But Stillwell Road and Ash Street Extension could prove to be beyond the city’s financial reach, unless Springfield pursues and obtains grants, such as community development block grants.

“A couple of projects we can’t afford to do without grants,” city cultural affairs director Tommy Deadwyler said.

Said Bennett: “It’s the difference between a $40,000 project and a $1 million project.”

The city is still moving forward with the recreational trails grant on Jack’s Branch, and also has a Coastal Incentive Grant to help turn an old oxidation pond into part of the Springfield-Ebenezer Greenway. The pond is about 2.5 acres.

City council members and staff also discussed code enforcement, especially trying to make Springfield appear more presentable.

“We’re going to work on code enforcement as part of a greater beautification and revitalization of Springfield,” Deadwyler said.

“We’re making an effort to revitalize Springfield,” added Bennett, “and part of that is to make it look nice. We talked about a more proactive approach to code enforcement, rather than being reactive.”

The city will spend $350,000 toward renovations around Ulmer Park, in an effort to ease parking congestion around the judicial complex and surrounding buildings, and the county also has pledged its support.

“It hinges on what the county does,” Bennett said. “All of those things affect the park.”

Also on the table for discussion during the city council planning retreat at New Ebenezer Retreat Center were police department staffing and the location of the Springfield Fire Department.

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