By Tia Lynn Ivey
As 2020 comes to a close, Madison officials are looking back at the goals they accomplished throughout the year and looking ahead to 2021 as they tackle a new slate of goals to work on in the coming year.
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman reflected on the challenges and difficulties faced in 2020 and encouraged citizens to persevere as 2021 begins.
“Despite the COVID-19 we have been facing the last nine months, Madison has been doing extremely well,” said Perriman. “We ask all of our citizens and visitors to continue wearing masks in public since the virus is still with us and we need to take care of each other.”
Perriman said the City of Madison’s most important goals in 2021 is working to secure more affordable housing inside the city limits, supporting local businesses and attracting new businesses, and crafting a budget mid-year to keep taxes the same or lower during this period of economic crisis brought on by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“We are concerned about our city and want to do everything within our power to help our citizens and businesses survive as we continue to fight this pandemic,” said Perriman.
Perriman noted the accomplishments the City of Madison achieved in 2020, despite the limits posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
After passing a $16.9 million budget for the 2020 fiscal year, and rolling back the millage rate down to 5.642 from 5.720, the city set out to improve transportation infrastructure, continue the West Washington Gateway “makeover” project, enact utility efficiency, upgrades, and incentive programs, add and repair public facilities, and pursue various “quality of life” initiatives while investing in housing, jobs, and redevelopment projects.
“It’s been a difficult year, but our city has pressed on,” said Perriman.
Perriman is pleased with the new businesses setting shop in Madison, as well as with established businesses expanding and revamping for a new era of success. Perriman pointed to the new “Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store,” which feature Hardee’s and Godfathers restaurants inside, opened in the Fall at Exit 113 of I-20. The Old South Motel, now renamed the New South Motor Inn, is currently being renovated and will reopen as a “retro 1950s motel.” Main Street is planning to begin construction on an expanded kennel facility known as the “The Lodge” in 2021, and a new automated carwash is expected to break ground next to the Verizon Store in Madison.
Perriman noted a slew downtown business developments.
“Several new shops and eateries have opened or expanded downtown, including The Polished Peach, T.J. Bishops Men’s Store, Dolce Caffe, Dive-In Seafood Bar & Eatery, Madison Square Nutrition, Madison Produce Company (new larger location), Madison Grace Home, Zeb Grant Home, and Tickled Pig BBQ.”
According to Perriman, The Madison-Morgan Conservancy will begin rehabilitation of the endangered Richter Cotton Warehouse building, commonly known as Helen’s Beauty Salon. “The building will be their office for five years at which point they hope to sell it as a professional office or small shop,” said Perriman. “And Georgia Military College has expanded their Madison campus to include a portion of the former middle school, formally known as the Pearl-Burney Annex.”
In housing developments, Perriman is proud of the new Vitality Living, formerly the Wellbridge Community, which is a senior housing complex in Madison, has completed its first phase of development.
“Vitality Living, formerly Wellbridge, a continuum of care development, has completed many of their duplexes – with two already occupied!” said Perriman. “With the remainder to be completed, along with quadplex units, this spring, additional units and 24/7 care will be constructed in Phase II & III.”
Canaan Crossing, an affordable housing project is also on the horizon for Madison next year.
“DDA completed demolition of the old Action Inc. buildings and has leased the premises to WODA, who has pulled building permits for Canaan Crossing – the highest scoring rural proposal for 2018,” said Perriman. “Sixty townhouses for workforce housing will be available for rent for qualified households,” explained Perriman.
Perriman also noted that the city’s Housing Opportunity Commission secured another $300,000 in Community Home Improvement Program funds in order to continue to address affordable housing in the Canaan Historic Neighborhood. “These funds will focus on bringing another 10 housing units up to code and safety minimums,” said Perriman.
Perriman also noted that final design and architectural plans for the “Bull Street Warehouse” have been approved, clearing the way for a new business complex to be built as part of the West Washington Gateway makeover project.
“The new ‘Bull Street Warehouse,’ is where Martha Williams of Adrians will have a new solid building and where Jaswan Singh will own and operate the new Easy Bottle Shop location. Peak Steel has been hired as the contractor for the dual site and starts after the New Year,” explained Perriman.
Also coming to the West Washington Gateway area is a new 60-car parking lot.
“Civil plans were approved,” said Perriman of the project. “With plans complete, the City will bid the project to run concurrent with Downtown Development Authority construction.”
In 2020, the city made progress on improving transportation infrastructure, completing annual street paving projects, including resurfacing Skyline Drive, West Skyline Drive, East Skyline Drive, High Street, Airport Industrial Boulevard, Billups Street, North Fifth Street, Hough Circle, Turner Drive, and Gilmore Lane.
“This was funded through the Georgia Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) with a 30 percent match by the City of Madison,” said Perriman. According to Perriman, sidewalks will be added to East Jefferson Street and Vine Street this coming year.
“It will be completed through joint effort by City staff and a subcontractor,” said Perriman.
Throughout 2020, the city of Madison began a “utility mapping” project that will continue in 2021.
“Water, gas, and sewer will be mapped through GPS into a geographic information system available on crews’ smart phones in the field aiding location of infrastructure during emergency and non-emergency situations,” explained Perriman.
Perriman touted other energy-efficient programs
“The Gas Appliance Rebate program has been expanded to include both increased rebates to homeowners for purchase of new, efficient appliances as well as contractor incentives,” said Perriman. “An On-Bill Financing Program will be rolled out in January. The program allows qualifying customers to purchase and install energy efficient gas appliance using a loan repaid through their monthly gas bill. The maximum amount for loans is $6,500 with a maximum loan term of 60 months.”
Adding and remodeling public facilities was a priority in 2020 and will continue to be in 2021.
“New restrooms at Hill Park are in a redesign process to lower their cost after initial bids were outside the budget range. These restrooms are designed to be the template of future construction in Wellington and Gilbert Parks,” said Perriman. “Rehabilitation of the Smith Cottage was completed. The Main Street and Planning Departments moved in over the summer opening in September. Rehabilitation of City Hall will begin in the new year. The work will restore much of the building to its original configuration. Current staff will be in a temporary office located at 295 N. Main Street. Citizens will find this a convenient location in the interim.”
The city is planning to construct a second fire station in the Lions Club Road/Bypass area.
“This facility, which will house the aerial platform truck and other vehicles currently at the Public Works Building, is in the early planning stages,” said Perriman of the SPLOST-funded project.
Perriman also noted Phase 1 of Lambert Park, on the corner of Main Street and College Drive, is now complete in its first phase, replete with landscaping, picnic areas, and a public art piece of a giant mule installed.
“Future phases will include a dog park, exercise stations for our older citizens, and rehabilitation of the Goldwire House,” said Perriman.
Perriman noted significant progress on the parks for young children in the city.
“The Martin Tot Lot on Whitehall Street is 85 percent complete,” said Perriman. “Landscaping, walks, safety fencing, and benches are installed. Next up: play equipment for younger children. The equipment will have an educational theme to honor the legacy of educators such as Marie Bass Martin.”
According to Perriman, the tennis courts in Hill Park will be refurbished in the upcoming year, and a new trail project will come to fruition.
“The Greenspace Conservation Commission finalized the route for the ‘Model Mile’ for a family-friendly trail for the Madison Greenway,” said Perriman. “The ‘Horse Branch Trail’ will meander through nearly 65 acres of conserved and gifted property and easements. A state trail’s grant application was submitted for partial construction funds.”
Perriman is hoping 2021 will be another successful year for the city and its citizens.
“We are working hard for our city and will continue to look out for the best interests of city and all our citizens,” said Perriman.