Wednesday, June 16, 2010

16 JUN 10: The Right Side of the Tracks

So did I understand the newscasts correctly -- Columbus Council had a meeting Tuesday, and the Parks and Recreation Department barely came up? Perhaps it was like the pause between the 5:00 and 7:00 thunderstorms.

The big topic at Tuesday's Columbus Council meeting turned out to be a familiar downtown building. A proposal was offered to renovate the old Swift Mills plant on Sixth Avenue -- and some Councilors want it approved quickly, before the plant becomes the successor to Baker High School with years of debate and no action.

Developer Ernie Smallman wants to turn the Swift Mills complex into a mixed development. The big headline is that part of the building would become two-bedroom loft apartments. Let's hope the remaining part doesn't continue to be used as it was before - for security training in smoke bombs [27 Jun 08].

But there's an objection to the loft apartment proposal -- not from nearby residents, but from the Norfolk Southern railroad. The railroad notes it still ships freight past the old Swift Mill. Those of us who drive down Fifth Avenue know the "shipping" is sometimes more like crawling.

Norfolk Southern notes engineers are required by law to sound train horns when they approach key streets. The railroad presumes that will annoy people living inside the old Swift Mill -- and I can see that point. I live close to Golden Park, and some truck drivers insist on sounding horns when they drive past on game nights. Loud advertising isn't merely on radio and TV, you know....

But Councilor Red McDaniel says the Swift Mill needs renovation. He told WTVM noise from railroad trains is "a problem all over town." But it's like those horns at World Cup soccer matches - after a while, you get used to them.

Ernie Smallman adds the development plan calls for a parking lot between the apartment building at the Norfolk Southern rail lines. Two rows of cars could serve as a buffer for those train horns - while increasing the chances for collisions, when residents back out at the same time.

This marks the second time in recent weeks that Norfolk Southern has become active in Columbus city business. In May it brought railroad police to town, cracking down on homeless people living along the tracks. At least Norfolk Southern is being consistent -- as it doesn't even want people paying $900 a month to live near the tracks, either.

So what is getting Norfolk Southern so concerned about Columbus? Does it have something to do with the talk about stopping rail shipments on Ninth Street, rolling past the Government Center? Or does the railroad think liberals will move into the lofts, and start leaving tables of leftover food for hobos?

The idea of loft living seems to be gaining a foothold in Columbus. Check the Eagle & Phenix complex along the river, and you'll find a majority of the available units have been sold. But then again, the noisy parties at Broadway nightclubs are a full block away.

It's a good thing those loft apartments have enclosed parking lots, because Columbus Council approved higher parking fines Tuesday. Beginning next month, parking too long downtown will cost you 17 dollars instead of 15. How badly do Columbus State students want that two-dollar special at Taco Bell?

BLOG UPDATE: We said the Parks and Recreation Department "barely" came up Tuesday, because it did. A letter of reply was released, from City Attorney Clifton Fay to Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose. For some reason, there was NO carbon copy for the Columbus NAACP Chapter President - and you'd think Marcus Hunter's one-year probation would be almost over by now.

Clifton Fay's letter reveals Columbus city computer records were checked - and NO city e-mail was sent to Chuck Williams of the Ledger-Enquirer on 17 May. That's the day the Parks and Recreation Department audit went public. OK, that's nice - but were any e-mails sent to Sonya Sorich?

Clifton Fay's letter seems to accept one of Edward DuBose's demands. It says the Columbus Police Chief will keep track of how much police time is spent reviewing the Parks Department audit. Fay promises the total "will be available after expiration of statutory time limits...." I never knew Columbus Blazers basketball games were under a statute of limitations.

-> We're marking an anniversary this week at local poker tables. Read all about it at our other blog,"On the Flop!" <-

BIG PREDICTION: I don't know why the Miss Georgia pageant was moved up one week on the calendar this year. But the preliminaries begin tonight, and I'll dare to guess the winner will be Michaela Lackey. She's entered as "Miss Cherokee Rose" - as opposed to being Miss LaGrange Hydrangea or something.

(No, your blogger was NOT invited to be a Miss Georgia judge this year. Again. Tell the organizers you're a single guy, and they probably fear you'll act like Perez Hilton.)

Let's see what else is worth a mention from Tuesday....

+ Russell County authorities told WTVM six picnic tables were stolen from Austin-Sumbry Park. C'mon, guys - the payoff for recycling aluminum can't be that expensive.

+ Columbus Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes confirmed he'll run for re-election. This sets up a rematch with Nathan Suber (along with other candidates) - only this time Barnes has a couple of advantages. He's the incumbent. And he can borrow diabetes test needles from fire stations, to intimidate voters.

+ A recount began in the Alabama Republican Primary for Governor -- with the quick discovery that some ballot boxes in the Birmingham area had broken security seals. I assume all write-in votes for Larry Langford will be discarded....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer quoted Carver High School football coach Dell McGee as saying Jarvis Jones will sign commitment papers to transfer to Georgia. Southern California fans can look at it this way. You lost a lot of wins and a star linebacker. But you gained a live Colorado buffalo stampeding on your field every few years.

This blog had more than 55,000 unique visitors in 2009! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 764 (+ 38, 4.9%)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-10 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats