The Auburn City Council unanimously voted in favor of adjustments to the city’s biennial budget for fiscal years 2017–2018 at their meeting on Tuesday night, which included the allocation of funds related to the city’s 2017 downtown parking plan, efforts to improve traffic congestion, the Downtown Master Plan, the city’s Parks and Recreation master plan and the Northwest Auburn Neighborhood Plan.
“Even though we’re starting to allocate funds and making sure that the funds are available for these projects, it’s still important for the public to know that just because we approved the mid-biennium budget, we are not, in essence, saying ‘yes’ to these projects,” said Ward 3 Council Member Beth Witten.
“They still come up to us, we still discuss them and we still understand the full situation of these projects before we say yes or no.”
The primary items within the city’s 2017 downtown parking plan include the East Glenn Avenue parking lot project with a budgeted $1 million from the city’s budget that will provide 88 new parking spaces for downtown, the implementation of a valet parking service, with a budgeted $78,000, expected to make up to 75 parking spaces available, changes to parking meters and enforcement budgeted at approximately $100,000 and the construction of a new parking deck in the urban core budgeted at $10 million that will provide around 250 parking spaces.
“I think the improvements and strides we’re making in parking are going to be very helpful to the downtown area,” Witten said.
Efforts by the city listed in the accepted budget to improve traffic congestion include improvements to Richland Road budgeted at $1.7 million, Cox and Wire roads’ improvements budgeted at $847,000, new traffic signals around the city budgeted at $876,100 and a comprehensive traffic study budgeted at $500,000.
The implementation of items in the Downtown Master Plan included in the budget for 2017–2018 include improvements to Wright Street budgeted at $1.2 million, renovation of West Magnolia and East Glenn avenues’ streetscapes budgeted at approximately $800,000 and improvements to South College Street budgeted at $1.2 million.
Auburn’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan is still being drafted by staff with its final adoption expected to take place this November.
Capital investments proposed by the Parks and Recreation Department addressed in the new budget include $200,000 for a new skate park in partnership with the city of Opelika and a $500,000 contribution to Auburn University’s upcoming performing arts center.
Public improvements budgeted for Northwest Auburn are valued at over $4 million, which includes $2.1 million for Boykin Community Center renovations, $150,000 for streetlights and sidewalk connectivity, $1.5 million for improvements to Donahue Drive and $150,000 for park improvements.
“We’re going to bring a lot of lights, a lot of sidewalks, we’ve already rehabbed a park over there, and we’re going to rehab a cemetery over there. We’re going to do a ton of work to Boykin Community Center that’s really going to create a center of activity and support for that community,” said Ward 2 Council Member Ron Anders.
“It’s really not everything they need, but it’s a start, and it’s a great redirection of resources for the city.”
Other initiatives the Council addressed in the budget include new enterprise software for the city and single-stream recycling services.