City preparing for future needs

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bainbridge city leaders used their two-day retreat at Lake Blackshear, Ga., last week to discuss their ideas about how the city will look like in 15 years.

According to City Manager Chris Hobby, city staff plan to study the potential for future growth and appropriate zoning along U.S. 84 East and U.S. 27 South while coordinating with county planning officials.

City Utilities Director Ronnie Parish also has proposed a water master plan to be implemented between 2012-2014. The plan would extend water lines to outlying areas of city limits like Spring Creek Road and Georgia 97 North and improve existing lines’ volume throughput, according to Parish.

Meanwhile, city officials are busy working on a plan to implement the city’s sewer master plan by the end of 2011. By the time the plan is completed in 2011-2012, an estimated 690 new customers could have access to city sewer. The school will also be served by its own lift station, well and water tower; however, in the future businesses and residences along U.S. 84 East could also have access to city water and sewer as a result, Parish said.

Despite the large number of new sewer users possibly coming online within the next 10 years, a major upgrade to the sewer treatment plant won’t be needed yet. The sewage treatment plant is permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to discharge up to 2.5 million gallons of water per day.

Currently, the average flow of wastewater into the treatment plant is about 1.3 million gallons per day, or a little more than half its total capacity, Parish said. Even with all of the anticipated new sewer customers, current estimates indicated the city’s total daily sewer usage would still be under 2 million gallons. There’s still a lot of drinking water capacity left, as well: Bainbridge is permitted to pump up to 4.2 million gallons of water per day from the Floridan aquifer and currently, the city uses an average of about 2.5 million gallons per day.

Public Safety

Hobby said a study of staffing levels indicates up to five additional Public Safety officers, or roughly one per shift, should be hired to reinforce the agency’s police patrol and firefighting capabilities.

Public Safety Director Larry Funderburke had several informal proposals, including a study of whether Public Safety functions should be split into separate firefighting and police departments, as they were before 1986. Funderburke said it has become difficult to attract people willing to be both police officers and firefighters under the Public Safety concept.

Funderburke and Hobby agreed that if the city wants to maintain its good fire insurance ratings, a new fire station should be built within southern city limits, possibly off U.S. 27 South. Hobby said the need has arisen due to annexations extending the city’s southern and eastern limits past the optimal response radius of 1.5 miles from the nearest fire station.

Public Works

The portion of West Alice Street behind the Bainbridge Wal-Mart has been repaved and widened slightly, Public Works Director Tommy King said.

Road improvements slated for 2009-2010 could include resurfacing of the portion of Lake Douglas Road within city limits, Potter and Donalson streets. The Street Department will also be busy working on Phase II of the city’s downtown Streetscape project, slated to begin this year, and will help construct the fields and buildings that will comprise the third phase of the Bill Reynolds Sports Park.

The city’s recent move to one trash pickup day for its customers is going well so far, King said. The city does not plan to hold a free trash pickup week as it has in the past. Instead, special pickups are currently free of charge and can be scheduled by calling 248-2014.

Community Development

City staff are continuing to work on a planned update to the city’s Web site, www.bainbridgecity.com, with the goal of providing citizens easier access to information and online services, Community Development Director Amanda Glover said. Glover also proposed city leaders look into digitizing some of the maps used by the city’s Planning and Zoning department and make zoning and building permits available online.

Other plans

Other plans presented by heads of the city’s six operating divisions include:

• Continued work on a redesign to unify three buildings into one City Hall with the goals of equipping the city’s headquarters with better technology, security and ease of access for both disabled persons and other citizens, according to General Administration Director Lisa Taylor.

• Marketing of the city’s baseball/softball fields and tennis center to attract organized tournaments to Bainbridge. According to Leisure Services Director Al Kelley, hosting the tournaments could bring the city a significant amount of annual visitors and boost the local economy.