TIFTON — Improvements were the main discussion June 7 at the Tifton City Council workshop and special called meeting at City Hall. Budgets, bids and First Friday were also on the agenda as part of the meeting.

A public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 budget was held prior to the City Council workshop.

City Manager Pete Pyrzenski gave a budget update for Fiscal Year 2022.

“All in all, this is a balanced budget,” he said.

City Attorney Rob Wilmot suggested a vote at the next City Council meeting about funding Tifton-Tift County Tourism after exact monies are known regarding their shortfalls because of coronavirus.

The only vote during the workshop session was a unanimous one to approve the agenda.

Adam Cobb discussed bids received for the New River Water Pollution Control Plant and Southwest Lift Station upgrades, as well as that for the local maintenance and improving grant for road resurfacing. Cobb said bids were in range for the treatment plant and lift station.

Pyrzenski said he has a field trip planned in the future for Tifton Mayor Julie Smith and the council to see the upgrades.

East Coast Asphalt had the low bid for road resurfacing at $671,000. A road list had previously been approved.

Trey Gavin discussed Downtown Development Authority projects, which mainly concern Commerce Way. Gavin said plans are to make Commerce’s sidewalks more handicapped accessible and easier for people to patronize businesses.

Gavin said he and the Downtown Development Authority were discussing Commerce Way as “an entryway” to downtown with trees and gardens.

Public dining areas are another proposal for Commerce, but with the limited parking space — even with the side parking lot — Commerce could be a one-way street, with traffic heading north. The one-way portion would cover from Highway 82 to 3rd Street.

Gavin said public dining areas were popular in cities such as Athens and Miami last year during coronavirus with indoor dining restrictions and have remained popular since. Gavin presented artists’ renderings of what Commerce Way would look like with the new dining spaces and with one lane of traffic. From 3rd Street to the yield sign on Central Avenue would remain two-way.

Changing Commerce to one-way, Gavin said, would be critical to this project.

“It would be a lot safer coming off Highway 82,” Smith said. Pyrzenski said the Downtown Development Authority agrees. Both Pyrzenski and Gavin see Commerce Way as “a gateway” to downtown.

“To be clear, the conversion from two-way to one-way really does not sacrifice the parking spaces,” Gavin said. He pointed out the angled parking on Commerce is already in the direction of the potential one-way street.

“If I were a business owner on this corridor, I’d be delighted with this work,” he said. “It is going to be a major enhancement to every business and everyone who is starting to improve these properties.”

“That street is so visible from 3rd Street all the way back out to Highway 82,” Smith said. “You can see every aspect of that road.”

Pyrzenski said the plans to improve Commerce also fixes drainage problems from rain.

Commerce Way came up again later in the workshop in regards to the Yellow Monkey Frozen Yogurt shop. Yellow Monkey, currently, located on South Virginia Avenue, will be moving to 359 Commerce. A resolution was proposed to grant the shop enterprise zone incentives.

Water lines will be replaced in another downtown project at an alley on South Main Street and U.S. 82.

Dana Chancey presented a resolution adopting the Fiscal Year 2020 audit and a resolution adopting the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Jessica White presented a resolution for the general election to be held Nov. 2.

Abbey McLaren had a resolution recognizing First Friday events as festivals. The festival designation will allow for a “sip and stroll.”

First Fridays “will include live entertainment and promotional sales,” McLaren said. “The Main Street office and staff will ensure that participating restaurants and establishments authorized to sell alcoholic beverages within the district will be informed of the guidelines and will receive cups and wristbands at no charge.”

Alcoholic beverages would be in clear, specially marked, plastic cups. People partaking would be given a wristband and would go through identification checks.

McLaren said sip and stroll will bring a boost to revenue. The festival ordinance would run through the remainder of 2021. The first event open with the ordinance would be in July.

Smith said other communities successfully have held these type of events. She said it would be “a nice addition” to the events already taking place in Tifton.

Pyrzenski gave an update on the building code/ISO ratings, done every two years. Tifton’s current assessment is Class 2 for commercial and industrial properties, which Pyrzenski said is “remarkable.” Class 1 is the lowest and best number for the ratings.

The city held a surplus sale June 5, which brought in more than $200,000.

Pyrzenski reminded residents to lock their vehicles to attempt to deter thefts.

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