Updates from McDonough City Council

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A plan to expand the availability of wireless Internet service in public spaces throughout McDonough is moving forward after a vote at the Sept. 19 regular meeting of the City Council.

A bid of $130,462.50 was awarded to SmartWave Technologies for installation costs regarding “the city’s wifi and microwave network project,” as it was referred to on the meeting agenda. These funds will come from the city’s SPLOST account.

The affected area includes the square and four parks: Alexander Park, Big Springs Park, Rufus Stewart Park and Richard Craig Park.

City manager Keith Dickerson said the installation should take 2-3 months.

“We already have some wifi on the square but this will be better - it will handle more people and should be faster,” he said.

It will be a tower-based system that sends wifi capability to various hotspots. This process is slightly more expensive than laying wires and cables, Dickerson said, but it is certainly faster to install and will be a better system up front as well as easier to expand.

Internet usage for citizens will be free, but only for the basic online needs one might have while outdoors at one of these sites. Anyone wanting to download a movie or something substantially large will encounter resistance.

“You don’t want one person eating up all the usage,” said Dickerson. “The system has mechanisms built in to control that.”

This is the initial phase of what the city hopes will eventually be available to other sites such as Avalon Park and various trails. Dickerson said the system should at some point allow the addition of cameras for security purposes.

While expanded wifi access should be available in a relatively short time, the roundabout project at McDonough Parkway and Hwy. 20 is farther down the road. Another item on the council’s Sept. 19 agenda was the approval of a local government lighting project agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation for that project, specifying that the city’s responsibilities under the agreement would include energy, operation and maintenance of system.

Dickerson said this is a formality between municipalities that is done before the state DOT begins its initial study. “This project probably won’t start for five years,” he added.

When it does, the state will design and build it, while the city handles the aforementioned costs beyond that.

In other business, a watershed assessment fieldwork proposal was approved for biological and habitat monitoring and preparation of a watershed study to be submitted to the state’s Environmental Protection Division as required under city’s stormwater permit. The $16,115 cost is to be paid from the city’s stormwater budget with additional and/or out-of-scope work billed hourly only if approved in advance by council.

The council approved $1,580.26 in the August invoice from attorney James E. Ellliott, Jr. for legal services to city’s Board of Ethics.

Humberto Fallas, on behalf of Fallas Family Vision, requested rezoning from multi-family residential to office-institutional for .40 acre of property at 69 Griffin Street. It was approved.

Foxhole Development, on behalf of Iris Lake Village, requested a conditional use with new conditions for 23.9 acres of property zoned multi-family residential on Iris Lake Village Road in the Iris Lake subdivision. It was postponed until the Oct. 6 workshop.

David Pollack, on behalf of U-Haul Company of Western Georgia, requested a concept plan review for 20 acres of property zoned light industrial at 2055 Avalon Parkway. The concept plan was approved.

After executive session, the council approved a settlement not to exceed $8,000 with Mercer & Company for a property damage claim at 16 Hampton Street.