Downtown Infrastructure Update: The bid opening for Phase 1A is to be held on August 23, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. Once the contractor is selected for Phase 1A, funds will be requested during the September 11, 2017, council meeting. Design Work for Phase 1B Water is underway and is scheduled for completion by mid-September.  Design Work for Phase 1B Storm Sewer is underway and is scheduled for completion by early-October.  Design Work for Sanitary Sewer is complete and contractor solicitation will begin once approved by Rural Infrastructure Authority.

 

Public Safety Building: The new Public Safety Headquarters project continues to move forward. Southeastern has hired Narramore Architecture from Greenville, SC to design the new facility, and the first renderings are expected within the next few weeks. Additionally, Cranston Engineering from Augusta has been hired to conduct the site survey.  Southeastern should begin demolition on the interior of the building soon.  In the meantime, Public Works staff have worked hard to clear away the overgrowth around the building and the storm water retention area.  Talks have begun with Motorola Solutions to address options for the transfer of dispatch operations from the current building to the new site and the need for a new radio tower.  Also, evaluations are being conducted of the furniture and fixtures in the current building to see what can be reused in the new Headquarters building.

Pension Reform Status: The actuary and pension attorney are working on a plan design for the new defined contribution pension plan.  We have contacted a potential plan administrator to work with employees once the plan is adopted.  The recommendation is that existing employees will be grandfathered. Once the plan is drafted, we will bring the details to Council for discussion and approval.

2017 Community Stakeholders’ Symposium Series: The 2017 Community Stakeholders’ Symposium Series will be held every Tuesday in August at the City of Aiken Municipal Building (214 Park Ave SW) in the Conference Room. The Symposium Series is a joint project of Aiken Department of Public Safety Community Services Division and the City of Aiken Affairs and Tourism Division. We are excited to facilitate this particular Symposium Series because it presents, in a condensed format, how the Aiken Safe Communities Approach and community/economic development work hand in hand to ensure an exceptional quality of life for our Citizens.  As the Safe Communities Approach takes root in our community it helps establish a healthy economic base from which we can continue to support our families, promote thriving businesses and ensure our City’s future is vibrant and secure. Each week the Series topic will focus on a particular community component such as non-profit organizations, neighborhoods/residential areas, small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide information, resources and opportunity to connect with others with the same interests and goals.

Hopelands Gardens: The Sunday, July 9, 2017, edition of the Aiken Standard publicized that Hopelands Gardens was voted Aiken’s Choice for best “Event Venue”. Recreation Program Supervisor Sam Radford was notified that the City will be receiving a framed award certificate to display. See page 17 of the link to view the announcement.

Please notice the Series’ schedule of topics, dates and times.

Stakeholder Focus – Neighborhoods

Topic: Healthy Neighborhood Toolkit: “Boots on the Ground”

Tuesday August 22nd; 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Stakeholder Focus: Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Topic: Resources and Networking – SCORE and SBDC

Tuesday August 29th; 6:00pm = 7:30pm

Stakeholder Focus – Community/General Audience

Topic: Speaker Bernie Mazyck, President / CEO SCACED – Meet and Greet Department Heads

City of Aiken FY 2017-18 CTC State Road Resurfacing List: On July 26th, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) received the City of Aiken’s 10% funding allocation from the Aiken County Transportation Committee (CTC), in the amount of $272,266.50, for fiscal year (FY) 2017-18.  The state road resurfacing project is currently being finalized by SCDOT, to include the prioritized roads as previously identified by the City of Aiken. The road resurfacing list will be placed on the City’s website, at www.cityofaikensc.gov, once finalized by SCDOT.

Business Connect: The Business Connect web page is now up and active under the Business section of the City of Aiken website. This link will take you directly to the Business Connect page:  The tag line is “Your city development partner”.  This is the welcome statement for the Business Connect page:  Welcome to Business Connect, your one-stop shop for doing business in the City of Aiken. This program is designed to provide personal assistance to you, whether you’re Starting, Growing, or Expanding a Business inside our City Limits. Our goal is to keep it simple as we know this is only one aspect of your business planning.  To schedule an appointment please call, fax, or email us and we will arrange a meeting to get the process started.  We look forward to having you be a part of our thriving business community!  The purpose of this page is to be user/business friendly.

SCDOT – Silver Bluff Corridor Improvement Project: The construction phase is currently underway, with a revised estimated completion date to be determined and the contractor to resume work after all of the utilities have been relocated. The City’s utility relocations were completed last winter. The remaining utility relocation work is anticipated to be completed this fall:

  • SCE&G (Electric) – 95% complete
  • SCE&G (Gas) – Not started
  • AT&T – 85% complete
  • Aiken Electric Coop – 25% complete
  • Atlantic Broadband – Not started

Downtown Parkway Improvements 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 travelways. The second phase of the Park Avenue parkway improvements is currently underway, with the following milestone schedule and anticipated timeline for completion:

  • Preliminary design is currently underway, with the preliminary tree inventory assessment and proposed pathway design completed.
  • Proposed lighting plan is currently being finalized.
  • Ongoing coordination with DHEC is currently underway, to identify the allowable improvements and associated mitigation requirements at the location of the existing bio-swales.
  • Construction is anticipated to be completed the latter part of this year.Issues and UpdatesAugust 14, 2017 12. Tree Inventory & Management Plan: The City of Aiken has selected Bartlett Tree Experts and its highly qualified staff of scientists and field technicians to perform a tree inventory, and to develop an urban forest management plan for the long term maintenance and care of its magnificent trees. Beginning in late July, the project team initiated the test data collection within one of the signature Park Avenue parkways, located in the downtown business district opposite Bee Lane. Global positioning system (GPS) technology and geographic information system (GIS)-based software are being used to identify the precise location of the trees, their species, condition and overall maintenance needs. The public involvement process will continue throughout the development of the project, in an effort to obtain important feedback from key stakeholders. The survey work is anticipated to be completed within the next ten to twelve weeks, with an estimated completion in late fall to receive the comprehensive management plan.Funding and in-kind support for the project have been identified by the City of Aiken, through a unique partnership with the Aiken Land Conservancy and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee made up of local volunteers. The financial commitment and volunteer efforts in support of the project are deeply appreciated by the City, and will provide many benefits for the community – most notably, a healthy and robust tree canopy provides shade for cooling and reduced energy consumption, reduction of air pollutants, stormwater runoff reduction, and water quality improvements. Additionally, it increases property values and aesthetics, and is linked to the mental and physical health and well-being of the human environment. However, there are costs associated with the long term maintenance and management of the City’s urban forest, which present a liability in more densely-populated areas, as trees age and die.13. Commercial Projects Update: The following commercial projects are under construction:

MHA Aiken county Nurture Home cottage – 232 Greenville Street NW

Parkview East office building @ Village at Woodside – 137 Old Market Street

The following permit applications have been received and are under review:

Demo of bank building for Discount Tire (2289 Whiskey Rd)

Law office Braithwaite/Boni 2nd floor build out – 759 Richland Avenue W

Moe’s renovation dining area/restrooms – 1500 Whiskey Road

The following commercial projects received their Certificate of Occupancy:

Village at Woodside bocce pavilion – 179 Village Green Blvd

Anchor Health & Rehab addition – 550 East Gate Drive

Hitchcock Healthcare office building – 110 High Gate Loop

Issues and Updates

Commendations: Tourism Program Supervisor Jenny Burghardt received an email from Bob McCartney of Woodlanders Nursery. Mr. McCartney had received a note from Mr. John Palmer who had visited Aiken with the International Dendrology Society Tour last October. This was his first tour and he stated that Aiken and Mr. McCartney were the inspiration for him learning about trees.  He wanted to thank everyone for all they did for the International Dendrology Society Tour.

Mr. Mike Solenberger called to say that he witnessed three gentlemen, that are City employees with Utilities, assisting a woman with her car on Monday, July 10, 2017. He said the car was stuck and the employees were waist-deep in water helping to get her car unstuck.  This occurred in the pouring rain in front of the Dollar General Store on Richland Avenue.  Mr. Solenberger just wanted say what a wonderful thing it was that the City employees helped out in such a way.

Ms. Velma Miles sent a thank you note to the Parks and Recreation Department saying she loves the idea of having a day of exercise in the Smith Hazel pool.

Ms. Ethel Pope wrote a note to the Parks and Recreation Department saying the swimming program is very helpful to her health. The instructors are patient and kind.

Mr. Les Hall sent Business Vitality Manager John McMichael an email compliment him on the work done by the City on The Alley. He said it is very nice and the decision to close it to traffic will only help.  He and his wife enjoy the downtown area frequently, most often dining and going to plays.  He stated he has one suggestion, to restrict the smoking.  He said with the outdoor dining available, the entire alley could be considered a restaurant.  He lives Woodside and has heard this comment from several friends and acquaintances.  He wanted to thank the City their efforts.

Ray and Norma Conaster wrote a thank you note to Public Works Manager Tim Coakley thanking him for a job well done. They thanked him and the curbside trash, recycle and debris pickup teams for their consistent week in/week out quality of service to the community. The note is attached.

Accounting Clerk I Miriam Burton received a note thanking her for being kind and forgiving a late fee. It stated that the customer had been ill and unable to conduct business. Ms. Burton was very compassionate and friendly.

A few reminders of important dates and meetings coming up:

Thursday, August 24 at 5:00 p.m.:  A Community Conversation Envisioning the Future of Richland Avenue West improvements from Valley Drive to Vaucluse Road will be held at the Visitors Center and Train Museum, 406 Park Avenue, SW.

Tuesday, August 29 at 2:00 p.m.: There will be a Property Maintenance Code workshop in the Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Avenue, SW, in City Council Chambers. This workshop will have attorneys and property maintenance inspectors from Clemson, Greenville and Rock Hill attend to share their municipalities’ experience with these issues.

Monday, September 4: City offices will be closed in observance of Labor Day. Offices will reopen on Tuesday, September 5, at 8:10 a.m.

Tuesday, September 5 at 6:30 p.m.:  The Design Review Board will hold its regular monthly meeting in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave.

Monday, September 11 at 7:00 p.m.:  The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held in Council Chambers, Second Floor of the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave., SW.