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Top takeaways from the BOC’s March 17 meetings
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Everything from potential library updates to trash improvements came up on the agenda when the Dawson County Board of Commissioners met for their March 17 work and voting sessions.

Here are the biggest takeaways from both of the meetings: 

Proposed library updates

Chestatee Regional Library System Director Leslie Clark and Operations Specialist Michael Middleton spoke to the commissioners about much-needed improvements to the library building in downtown Dawsonville. 

The Dawson County Library was built in 2001. In 2020, library system headquarters staff moved into the new library facility in Lumpkin County, leaving multiple Dawsonville offices vacant. 

Clark introduced the following renovations and additions:

  • Storytime room; This space would be made by repurposing a former administrative office. There is a wall which used to contain a large television. Most of the structures for that can be removed easily, but extra considerations would have to be taken since the wall is load-bearing. 

  • Dedicated teen space; Clark said this is “especially needed” given patron usage of the library. A block wall behind some computers would be cut down to open up space for the teen/adult areas. She suggested that teen-friendly furniture such as two-person study carrels, individual laptop chairs or single tables be purchased. 

  • Community meeting space; This space would also be made by repurposing a former admin office and would serve as a preferable space for passive programming or test proctoring. A wall that’s currently shared with a storage room would be taken down to create a larger space. Better lighting would be placed near the space so it could be seen from the adjacent admin hallway. 

  • Branch manager’s office; This room would take up part of the current storage room’s space. The library system wants to add a wall and 36-inch door, making it the branch manager’s office. Storage would move into the empty office next to the children’s storytime room. 

  • Study room; The space would be made out of the current branch manager’s office. Technology would be added, and better lighting would be placed near there as well. 

  • Staff workroom; The library wants to close in the two case openings into the workroom and put in doors to help prevent patrons wandering into the area. 

  • Storage and storytime prep; Those supplies and functions would be moved into a room next to where the new storytime room will be. The new storage room will share a door with the storytime room, so it will be easier to do crafts and things there after kids’ programs.

  • Remove six feet of curb from the loading dock and install a ramp; This would make it easier to perform multiple functions outside of the building, as space is currently limited there now. 

  • Replace all carpeting and fresh coat of paint

Clark requested that the board allow the library system to obtain pricing information so that they know how to proceed in terms of funding the suggested changes. Once the library system knows the specific funding option or options, a representative will come before the BOC again to request permission to apply for those monies. 

Trash changes

Previously, Public Works Director Denise Farr came before the board and spoke about issues like the faltering chute or secondary structure at the transfer station. In early March, that structure was removed due to issues with it pulling away from the building’s foundation and a noticeable gap between the foundation and push plates. After removal, no visual impairment was noticed with the foundation.

Commissioners continued the nuanced discussion on trash concerns at the county’s transfer station. They approved a motion to allow acceptance of garbage, whether it’s household or commercial, contingent on someone being able to hand-unload it from their vehicle without the need of mechanical assistance. 

Concrete or masonry products will not be accepted. The commissioners will revisit this matter in 90 days. 

Future considerations will also need to be made for leachate, otherwise known as “garbage juices” from primarily residential trash. Right now, there’s not really a way for those liquids to be contained, Farr said. Per environmental regulations, the leachate cannot be allowed to seep into groundwater or the stream about 550 feet from the transfer station, which harbors an endangered species of fish. 

Likewise, another relevant issue is containing trash within facility walls, especially when there’s a backlog due to factors like packing equipment failing. Addressing dust, associated odors and insect and rodent creatures was also mentioned. 

Extra park bathroom

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne discussed the need for a bathroom closer to Rock Creek Park’s popular splash pad. 

Currently, parents have to leave the splash pad and go across the parking lot when one of their children needs to use a restroom. 

Facilities Director James Tolbert added that there’s also a need for a proximate bathroom given the playground on the park’s premises. 

A bid invite was released at the end of January for a restroom next to the splash pad. Only one bid was received to build a proposed block building with electrical and plumbing, one toilet and urinal and no air conditioning (but it would have a heater). 

The sole bid was for $169,883, with $129,374 from SPLOST VI funds and $40,509 from impact fee funds. Commissioners discussed whether that price may be in part due to contractors wanting to do bigger jobs and supply chain strains. 

“There must be a good bit of gold incorporated in this somewhere,” quipped District 1 Commissioner Sharon Fausett. 

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines understood the need for a restroom, having three young kids himself.

“But I’m also responsible for taxpayer money, and I have super hard time spending that [kind of] money when it’s not an emergency,” he said. 

District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley wondered if there were any nearby construction projects at the park that the bathroom could be tied into, and Payne replied that to his knowledge, the SPLOST projects were already too far along for that to be feasible, on top of their distance from the splash pad. 

Dooley also suggested placing a nicer version of a port-a-john by the splash pad, but Gaines mentioned that that could carry ADA-related challenges in terms of access. 

Chairman Billy Thurmond mentioned that perhaps the county could hire a construction manager who could subcontract out jobs to smaller local businesses. 

DCN will provide updates on the library, trash and park restroom proposals when more information becomes available.