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Guest column: A lot going on in the Boro
boyum current 2021
Phil Boyum

    Lawsuits, rezoning and booze.
    I don’t need to tell you: these subjects have gotten quite a bit of attention over the last few months.
    Reading only front page headlines, residents and visitors alike might develop an overly pessimistic view of what is happening up on the second floor of City Hall.
    The bleeding leads. The water cooler gossip. The head-scratching stories. These events get blood racing and opinions firing, and they draw our attention away from the long-term, behind-the-scenes projects that affect the true character and growth potential of Statesboro.
    In short, there’s a lot more going on.
    This is not a whitewash of the issues facing City Hall. On the contrary, the council and mayor recognize there are problems to address and, in most cases, city staff has already been empowered to make the necessary changes or adjustments and bring us the results. What follows, however, are just a few of the items shaping Statesboro’s future.
    Contractors have just moved equipment into place to begin the Gordon Street project that will address streets and stormwater drainage east of downtown. The improvements come in a neighborhood with one of the highest concentrations of low-income and fixed-income residents in the city. Our hope is that homeowners, who have seen their neighborhood deteriorate around them, will see a turnaround in their environment and hopefully their property values as well.
    There’s the joint city-county utilities project for Interstate 16 and U.S. Highway 301 South, which is getting ready to enter its third stage. Perhaps you didn’t realize that the new water tower off to the right at the eastbound exit 116 off off I-16 is part of the newest industrial park in the county.
    When we look back 20 years from now, we will see that this project was a significant factor in the next phase of Statesboro and Bulloch County. It opens up a new area for industrial development and the possibility of development for a mile on either side of Highway 301 all the way to the interstate.
    Now it’s in the hands of the Development Authority of Bulloch County to find us a tenant or two. Give them all the encouragement and support you can.
    Plans were recently unveiled for a major renovation to Savannah Avenue, primarily between South Zetterower Avenue and Northside Drive East. Slated to start late this summer, the project will improve water flow to fire hydrants, install brand new sidewalks and put in measures to increase pedestrian safety.
    At the meeting, engineers and staff balanced the difficult task of making desired changes to the design based upon property and business owner input while respectfully explaining the budget constraints of ambitious requests.
    There’s even talk about shutting down Savannah Avenue altogether and holding a Savannah Avenue Halloween Block Party, which would allow the hundreds of parents and children who trick-or-treat that evening to do so in a safe, car-free environment while keeping them safe from the ongoing construction. However, don’t use pen on your calendar just yet — Public Works and Public Safety, along with the contractors and engineers, are still looking at the feasibility.
    Architects and contractors are working on finalizing construction plans for the City Campus/Fab Lab building and alley remodel in downtown. This will have a huge impact on the look of downtown for years to come. Not to mention the potential impact on the health and growth of our business community. The final design should be worthy of a magazine cover or two.
    The new Shooting Sports Education Center at Georgia Southern University is currently being completely built off-site. Once completed, it will be taken apart and reassembled on-site sometime later this year. It will undoubtedly seem like the building just popped up one day. And the tournaments that follow — bringing visitors and tax dollars — will appear the same way.
    And there’s a whole lot I’ve missed. Like is said, there’s a lot going on.
    Lastly, I want to promote and encourage citizens to attend the Statesboro Police Department Town Hall meeting this Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Averitt Center for the Arts. Crime rate facts and statistics will be presented, and the SPD’s various community outreach programs will be on display as well.
    If you are at all interested in finding out what you can do to make your own street safer or if you want to be part of shaping the discussion of how the Statesboro Police Department interacts with citizens, neighborhoods and the entire community, come out and make your voices heard.
   
    Phil Boyum is the councilman for District 1. He can be reached at (912) 495-8820 or by email at philboyum@gmail.com.

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