A new traffic light and a new school Auburn City Council holds first meeting of the new year

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By Hannah Lester
hlester@opelikaobserver.com

Auburn City Council’s first meeting of the new year was short, but it approved the authorization of future expenditures for Auburn City Schools — in short, expect a new elementary school in the future.

“The city of Auburn issues debt for the benefit of Auburn City Schools (ACS),” the city’s e-packet said. “This debt is repaid with legally restricted ad valorem taxes that are collected by the city.”

The city approved future expenditures that are not allowed to exceed $20.75 million.

“In 2018, the ACS Board of Education approved a 10-year facilities master plan. Although the timing, nature and cost of projects in this plan have been revised based on updated enrollment projections and increased construction costs, the plan as a whole remains on track,” the e-packet said. “The next phase of projects includes construction of a new elementary school on the north side of Auburn, renovations at East Samford School and possibly the purchase of land for future use.”

The city’s e-packet said that ACS plans will cost the school system $31 million. The future expenditures the city approved will cover $20.75 million of that cost and the e-packet said the school system plans to utilize $10.3 million from the Investing in Alabama’s Future Act.

Traffic Light:

The council approved a contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation for a traffic light at Martin Luther King Drive and Solamere Lane.

The traffic light still needs approval from ALDOT to be complete.

“Should ALDOT agree that the signal meets their warrant requirements for a signaled intersection on state roads, they will approve the construction plans and return an executed agreement for the signal installation, operation, and maintenance,” said the city’s e-packet. “The approved permit would then be valid for one year.”

The proposal was brought forth by the Plainsman Lake Development. In order for the development to move forward, the traffic light must be installed, as must a turn lane.

“We have reviewed the plans and communicated with ALDOT concerning the improvements which will not only benefit the proposed development but will benefit the Solamere Subdivision residents as well,” the e-packet said.

One resident from the Solamere Subdivision attended the Zoom meeting Tuesday night to voice concerns.

“While we appreciate the possibility of a light to improve the safety of the ingress and egress to our neighborhood, we do have some questions and concerns about it,” said Kristen Malinchovich, who lives in Solamere Subdivision.

She said that she and others were concerned about how the proposal will affect traffic and construction crews’ access.

Buston said that the concerns will not affect residents until further in the Plainsman Lake Development process.

“What we’re talking about tonight is simply the first step in getting the Alabama Department of Transportation to consider putting a traffic light there should that development take place,” said City Manager Jim Buston. “The Alabama Department of Transportation will not even consider design or anything like that until they have assurance from the council that we are willing to take over the maintenance of the light should they agree to put one there.”

Ward 1 Council Member Connie Fitch Taylor asked how the traffic light could affect traffic on Shug Jordan Parkway.

“If I’m envisioning it, it seems like it’s going to be pretty congested right there if you put a traffic light there,” she said.

City Engineer Alison Frazier said that the traffic light will be located right at the entrance to Solamere and doesn’t see it causing problems to the traffic off the ramp.

Other Business:

Buston gave a report on the expenditures for the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The council approved a tax abatement for Briggs and Stratton, LLC.

The council approved a contract with Dell EMC Corporation for two Dell EMC Isilon H400 nodes, along with support and maintenance for roughly $40,000.

The council approved a contract with Donohoo Chevrolet for the purchase for 14 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV Units for the police division for over $437,000.

The council approved a contract with Stivers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for a 2021 Dodge Durango SSV for the police division for almost $27,000.

The council approved an easement for Broadway — Auburn Properties, LLC for a property on 364 South Gay Street as part of the Project No. STOP — 4116.

The council approved an easement for property located on 2120 Lee Road 137 as part of the Project No. HSIP — 4119.

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