Recreation options offered for Smithville

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County Parks and Recreation Director Eddie Dixon offered three options for development of a summer recreation program in the county's Smithville community during the Lee County Commission's work session Tuesday.

Dixon told commissioners transporting students from Smithville, located in the northern sector of the county, to Leesburg and back home "at least twice a week;" providing staff and counselors for a program in Smithville; and providing Smithville youngsters transportation to participate in YMCA-sponsored programs were three options that could be considered.

Commissioner Dennis Roland, whose District 1 includes Smithville, said coming up with a suitable option at this juncture was putting the cart before the horse.

"I'd like to see us run an ad in the paper maybe, find out how many people are interested in a recreation program first," Roland said. "That's the first step. Just talking about this and never moving forward ... We're not going to accomplish anything."

Roland also expressed concern about using the program to "teach children to be competitive rather than skills they can use in life," before County Administrator Alan Ours said he'd work with Parks and Rec officials to develop a Smithville recreation proposal.

Roland also said the time had come for the county to "hold developers accountable" for stormwater drainage problems after county Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander gave a report on 16 stormwater projects in the county. Projected cost of the projects is $1.2 million.

"We're looking at $1.2 million in work for issues that were caused by developers in the county," Roland said. "They made their money and moved on, leaving the problem for the county. It's time we held them responsible and came up with a long-range plan to address this problem. If we don't, 10 to 20 years from now that $1.2 million will be more like $20 million."

In a landowner's ongoing efforts to have an unused portion of Whitney Road closed, Alexander noted that the land in question, which had been deeded to the county, had been appraised at a value of $3,022.75.

"For land valued at less than $30,000, the county can negotiate a sale price," he said. "We've sold land in the past for $10."

After County Attorney Jimmy Skipper confirmed that the county had the right to negotiate a price for the land, Commissioner Betty Johnson said, "I think we should treat them all the same."

Commissioners also got a look at Atlanta-based GCA Traffic Consultants' completed parking and landscape study in front of and behind the Lee County Courthouse, a project that is projected to cost more than $400,000; voted to approve a proposed contract for the county tax commissioner's website, and heard a request by Alexander to extend an existing sign moratorium for an additional 60 days so that officials, business owners and the public can learn more and have more input on a proposed sign ordinance.

A public hearing was held earlier in the meeting to discuss the sign ordinance. A second public hearing, called to discuss the county's proposed FY 2011 budget, drew no response.

At the close of the meeting, Roland told his fellow commissioners he supported the Leesburg City Council's call for support in trying to keep the Lee Chamber of Commerce in Leesburg.

"I have a letter here from the Leesburg City Council asking for our support, and I do support it because the Chamber is a faction of county government," Roland said. "I don't know why the Chamber needs to be moved.

"I've heard people say the money (that would be used to fund a Chamber relocation) is the Economic Development Board's and they can do with it what they want. But we appoint that Board, and we should have a say in the actions they take."