Columbia County commissioners agreed Tuesday to pay the firm SMG to help select a consultant for a master plan that will examine an exotic animal collection, interstate interchange, possible arena and closed landfill.
The request to fund up to $10,000 for SMG to choose the best consultant for the master plan was unanimously approved 3-0, with commissioners Tommy Mercer and Ron Thigpen not at Tuesday night's board meeting.
In an earlier committee meeting, Columbia County Administrator Steve Szablewski said SMG would help the county select the best consultant and "help oversee studies that are done and would help us see that we get our money's worth on whatever study we do.''
Szablewski told commissioners that SMG would be a good choice for such a task because they have managed an arena facility.
The studies being discussed will examine the feasibility of an arena in Columbia County, the growth potential for land surrounding the intersection of Lewiston Road and Interstate 20 and a possible display location for an exotic animal collection owned by a county resident.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross says the study also will look at the county's closed landfill on Baker Place Road and finding new uses for it, such as converting it into something for public use, such as a shooting range.
Commissioners have previously approved up to $100,000 for a land-use study of the Lewiston Road interchange with I-20 and as much as $75,000 for an arena feasibility study.
Cross said all areas being considered will now be lumped into one big study that will fall under one bid, which he said he hopes will cost less than the $175,000 the two previously approved studies could have cost.
Cross said he hopes to have the study started by May and to have it completed within six months.
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