Harlem city officials voted at Monday's city council meeting to approve a resolution combining funds from two downtown renovation projects to get one off the ground.
After two rounds of bids for the first phase of Harlem's Downtown Streetscape project turned up no usable bids, city officials opted to send the project out for bid a third time.
The project, funded by a $300,000 Georgia Department of Transportation enhancement grant, will include adding an overlay material to sidewalks and adding trash cans, benches, trees and shrubs along Louisville Road from Forrest Street to Church Street. Curbside parking was removed, widening the road enough to accommodate tractor-trailers, and replaced with a paved lot across from the Harlem Department of Public Safety.
The resolution allows Harlem officials to combine the grant money awarded in 2003 with a $700,000 DOT grant awarded to the city in January to pay for the second phase of the downtown renovation.
Funding from both grants will be used to complete the first phase, City Manager Jean Dove said.
Funding for the second phase is not secured, but Dove said the city will likely apply for another DOT grant. The second phase will make Milledgeville Road's design match Louisville's.
The first time contractor bids were solicited, city officials received none. City officials rejected the only bid in a second solicitation because at more than $1.6 million, it was much higher than the expected cost of nearly $560,000.
The city already has more than $1.27 million in funding waiting, including several DOT grants and a federal Department of Agriculture grant.
The city is also required to provide $200,000 in matching funds.
Contractor bids for the project will be opened Oct. 20. After city engineers review the bids, the project will be awarded to a recommended contractor.
Also at the meeting, Harlem officials tabled a proposed moratorium that would prevent permits from being issued for renovation, demolition or other construction to buildings more than 50 years old in the city's proposed Historic District. The city's Historic Preservation Commission established guidelines for the district.
Harlem is awaiting approval of the guidelines from the Regional Development Center before public meetings will be held. Dove said she estimates it will take 60 to 90 days before the guidelines are ready for approval by the city council.
Councilman Tom Blalock was worried that owners of some of those historic buildings might obtain a permit for a project to be destroyed or renovated before the guidelines go into place to protect their historical significance and architecture.
"There's nothing to keep these properties as historic treasures," Blalock said.
On the advice of city attorney Barry Fleming, the council decided to table voting on the issue to discuss the possibility of a long-term moratorium instead of a short-term one that can be renewed as needed.
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