COLUMBIA — The Public Works Department started its series of five town hall meetings Wednesday to discuss possible street maintenance and repair projects with the public.
The Fifth Ward was the first to hold its meeting, which took place at Gentry Middle School in its cafeteria. Attendance was low, but the three residents who came had a chance to talk with department officials about areas of roads in Columbia they want to see improved.
“I would always hope for more (residents),” Director of the Public Works Department John Glascock, said. “But as long as someone has input and people that are engaged, it’s good.”
The town hall meeting focused on discussing the $400,000 in excess funds the city has leftover from this year's snow-removal budget. The surplus was a result of Columbia's milder than usual winter which has consisted of 6.6 inches of snow for the season, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.
Eight-hundred residents took the city's 2011 citizens' survey. The results showed 20 percent of residents were least satisfied with the condition of the 500 miles of road the city is responsible for. Based on those results, the department is planning to spend the funds on street maintenance and repairs.
“We could always spend it,” Glascock said. “But every dollar that you spend on streets is an improvement to the community.”
Columbia resident and Board of Homeowners Association member Peter Koukola said he is happy he was able to give some direct input, and he thinks reaching out to the public is a good idea.
Ideas from the meeting:
- Because long stretches of curb provide no outlets for turtles and other animals, Columbia resident Brice Hanberry would like to see the city construct sloped areas and laid-back curbs so animals do not get trapped.
- Koukola said he would like to see maintenance and repairs done to Dustin, Cedar Ridge and Thorn Ridge drives.
- One woman said she would like the department to consider striping changes on Forum Boulevard and Woodrail Avenue because she fears someone could be injured due to poor visibility on Woodrail.
Residents can fill out a comment form at each town hall meeting and can help the department by watching and reporting streets they are concerned about.
The next town hall meeting will be for the Third Ward from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Blue Ridge Elementary School's media center, 3700 Woodland Drive.