Laurel City Hall

Council gets update on major road projects

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The Laurel City Council has approved the sale of the old Gibson’s building on Sawmill Road.

Dr. Doug  Tillery’s purchase of the property for $100,000 was approved unanimously by the council in its Feb. 4 meeting. 

“He said he’d have it cleaned in 180 days,” Mayor Johnny Magee said of the property that has been a bane to the council for more than two years. “The plan is to put a convenience store and high-end apartments there.”

The council approved the sale of the property at the intersection of Sawmill Road and Mason Street in December 2018 to Pine Tree Partners, LLC, which is Ken Keyes’ company. But the sale didn’t go through, reportedly because of problems with the property. Twice in recent meetings, the council rejected numerous bids to have the property demolished. Those bids had a wide range, from $342,842 to $91,500. The property, which had been vacant for years, last housed the county alternative school and it has been used as a distribution point for Salvation Army Christmas gift-giving. 

The council went behind closed doors into executive session for a brief discussion about the property and later approved the sale unanimously.

In other business, Mandy Hegwood of city engineer Neel-Schaffer gave a detailed update on paving projects on 5th and 13th avenues. Sewer work is complete on 5th Avenue and there’s still “a little water work” underground before paving can begin. Bids will be opened March 9 and construction is expected to begin in April. Design work continues on a drainage system. “It was in worse condition than expected,” she said.

On 13th Avenue, sewer work still has to be done on the north and south ends and there’s still some work to do on water pipes. The bidding process is expected to be approved at the Tuesday (Feb. 18) meeting and construction should begin around the end of April, Hegwood said.

In other action, Public Works Director Lorenzo Anderson has resigned, Magee announced. 

“He was hired by the same company that introduced him to us,” he said.

The city is accepting resumés for his replacement.

In the citizens’ forum, Jean Wheeler asked the council why Martin Luther King Jr. Drive wasn’t being repaved. She said Magee told her that it was a state road, so she should ask state Sen. Juan Barnett, whose district includes parts of Laurel. 

Wheeler said she did that, and Barnett “said he had given Laurel a great amount of money.” She asked if 5th and 13th avenues were state roads — then acknowledged the rules that city officials can’t interact with people during the forum.

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