This edition of the City Manager’s Blog features our progress on the Newberry Street Stormwater Improvements as well as on our Park Avenue Parkway Projects.  Aiken is proud of the progress made and those involved in each of these tasks.  We also acknowledge the retirement of our accomplished Horticulturist Tom Rapp, and the efforts of the Public Works Grounds Division in finding a way to fill his shoes and carry on the foliage of Aiken we know and love today.

Newberry Street Water and Storm Improvements
World to be done for the Downtown Work in Phase 1A: Installation of a new 6-inch water main along Newberry Street at The Alley southbound to Park Ave.  To include a new fire hydrant and water service connections.  Installation of a new 15-inch storm sewer pipe along with cleaning and spin casting (concrete lining like the repair to Chesterfield Street) of the stormwater main pipe.  Replacement of new drainage. structures and sediment control devices.  Pavers and stone base will be removed and replaced with some existing and some new.  This will allow for two new parking spaces in this area.  Scheduled from November 9 through January 19 while refraining from work during Holiday events and activities.

Park Avenue Parkway Improvements Phase II Project Update:
The City of Aiken has implemented a series of pilot parkway improvements in the downtown core in an effort to recapture and celebrate the original intent of its signature parkways, which are characterized by wide swaths of green spaces, interwoven with majestic trees, shrubs and landscaped areas, and framed by street networks of one-way paired travel ways.  The second phase of the Park Avenue Parkway improvements is nearing completion, to include the following items:
– Installation of a meandering natural pathway, with entry points and pedestrian connectivity between Park Avenue, Laurens, and Newberry Streets.  A final layer of aggregate will be added in the coming weeks.
– Installation of four street lights at strategic locations within the parkway, with electrical upgrades to be provided next week
– Improvements are anticipated to be completed by the end of this year.

Newberry Street Water & Storm Water Utility Infrastructure Improvements Phase 1A Project Update
The City of Aiken has consulted with Johnson, Laschober, & Associates, PC (JLA) to perform the scope of services and project description, and provide construction administration and resident project representative services for the City of Aiken Newberry Street Water and Storm Sewer System Upgrades – Phase 1A.  Construction is anticipated to begin on November 15 with the daily work hours currently as Monday-Friday from 7:00AM to 5:30PM.  Additional preliminary schedule notes discussed are as follows:
– Prior to 11/15/17: Camera (CCTV) inside storm sewer to verify condition of the pipe and buried manhole
– On 11/15/17: Spin-cast storm sewer (trenches construction with no excavation required)
– End of November: Open-cut excavation at Park Avenue for tap into existing main
– No work will be performed during events being held in the Municipal Building or on Newberry Street and The Alley
– Preliminary schedule and working hours may be subject to change

Staffing Changes within Public Works Grounds Division
With the recent retirement of City Horticulturist Tom Rapp, the Public Works Grounds Division is exploring opportunities to review the job functions, goals, and performance of the division, in an effort to maximize efficiencies within the division, and throughout the organization as a whole.  While more changes may be identified in the future, our Public Works and Parks & Recreation Department have identified an opportunity to improve efficiencies within Hopelands Gardens by realigning two existing positions currently vacant within the Grounds Division, to join forces with Parks & Recreation in performing routine maintenance services at Hopelands Gardens.  We believe that these changes will enable the City to better serve Hopelands Gardens and will strengthen our partnership with the Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch.  The realignment of these two existing positions will not require any additional funding and will enable maintenance operations within the Gardens to be consolidated under one department.

Commercial Projects Update
The following commercial projects are under construction:
– ARMC 1st Floor Outpatient Surgery Expansion – 302 University Parkway
– Financial Planner Office upfit – 137 Old Market Street
– Healing Minds Office upfit – 137 Old Market Street
– St. Mary’s South Wing building – 138 Fairfield Street SE

The following permit applications have been received and are under review:
– Aiken Cafe upfit – 108 Coach Light Way
– Circle K – 2948 Whiskey Road

The following commercial projects received their Certificate of Occupancy:
– CMI office expansion for physical therapy space – 399 Silver Bluff Road
– Cherry Bekaert Office upfit – 137 Old Market Street
– Benton House temporary modular leasing office – 530 Benton House Way

The following commercial projects with applications have been closed out:
– Demo small SRP building with drive-thru – 3515 Richland Avenue W

Commendations
Mr. Doug Leader, of the Aiken County Elections, sent an email thanking City Clerk Sara Ridout, Building Technician Bill Bates, and Maintenance Worker II Chris Henderson for their help during the special election held on October 24 2017.  He wrote that Bill and Chris checked on them and helped them load and unload for set up.

Ms. Frances Reynolds, a Mead Hall grandparent volunteer, sent a note saying what a great job Vehicle Operators Kellie McCarty and Cheryl Rich did at the Community Helper Vehicle Day.  She stated they were awesome interacting with the children and teachers.

Mr. Mike Beckner, of the Recreation Commission, sent an email to Recreation Superintendent Kim Coleman to let her know how well the Trunk or Treat event went.  He stated having the use of more field than in the past and the addition of more entrances to the venue really cut down on the lines and wait times for attendees.  The stain of the ‘trunks’ around the grounds spread things out, making them more accessible.  Maximizing the use of available resources was very wise and bodes well for future events.  However, most impressive to him was the way staff performed their many and varied duties.  Of special note was their friendliness, enthusiasm, and kindness toward their little patrons.  Everyone was welcomed by friendly faces and warm smiles and he saw no issues that reflected anything other than complete professionalism, commitment, and dedication by Parks and Recreation personnel.  The real proof of the success of their efforts was reflected in the faces and actions of the children who were all having a ball.  This is truly an event that seems to resonate with the public when their attention could easily be affected by multiple distraction, including the Steeplechase and the Western Carolina Fair, all happening at the same time.  If this year’s attendance figures reach or surpass last year’s, then there is no further evidence necessary to prove the value of the event.

Upcoming City Events:

Tuesday, November 14 at 6:00PM
The Planning Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.  A work session will be in Room 204 at 5:00PM

Monday, November 27 at 7:00PM
The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.