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Council fails to approve proposal to build $244,000 restroom on RiverWalk

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

A proposal for a Columbus RiverWalk public restroom project that would cost nearly $250,000 fails to pass once again as city councilors could not reach a majority vote.

The proposal to build a public bathroom under the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge was tabled on an inconclusive vote of 5-2 with councilors Pops Barnes and Judy Thomas voting against and councilors Skip Henderson, Mimi Woodson, Evenlyn Turner-Pugh, Glenn David and Bruce Huff voting for it. The 3 other councilors were absent from the meeting.

Rick Jones, the Director of the city's Planning Department says the high cost is mainly because of its difficult location along the RiverWalk. The city says the restrooms are necessary because there will soon be everyday pedestrian traffic and a lot of events held on the bridge, but some councilors have concerns about the price.

Councilor Judy Thomas put the cost into perspective last week when she said she the bridge would cost more than many Columbus homes. Jones went in front of council Tuesday night to address some of the councilors' problems.

"I have the same concerns anytime we have a project this magnitude in play, particularly when it seems so simplistic as a restroom,” says Jones. “However, at the same time, I realize there is a real need for restroom facilities.”

The state would pay 80% of the project and the city would pick up the other 20%, which equals about $50,000. Jones says the city will lose the grant if they don't approve the bathrooms.

“That money is there, that money cannot be spent on road projects anywhere else, it cannot be spent on any other part of the town, it has to be spent of the RiverWalk itself. So our objective is to utilize and use that money as useful as we possibly can,” said Jones.

The closest bathroom to bridge is about half-a-mile south, if the bathrooms are not built citizens building the bridge would have to walk a mile round trip to use the bathroom, Jones said.

Jones says he's optimistic that a decision will be made when more council members are present. Council will vote again on the proposal at the next council meeting on April 8th.

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David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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