Published Tuesday, September 11, 2012
By JOHN A. WINTERS
The Newnan City Council will get staff and various commissions to tackle what is becoming "an issue" downtown — namely trees.
The trees at the sidewalk bump-outs throughout the downtown business district area are growing to such an extent they are blocking not only business signs, but buildings as well, said Earlene Scott, owner of the South Court Square Scott's Bookstore, during council's meeting Tuesday.
The issue came up as council members were taking up a request by the Christmas Committee to increase its budget by about $10,000 for additional Christmas decorations. Scott serves on that committee.
"The discussion is always about the trees," Scott said about the committee. "We want downtown to look pretty for Christmas ...
"But the trees are blocking my business," she said. "I have out-of-town customers and they can't see me… It's not just my business but a lot of businesses downtown."
She pointed out the committee wanted to put a wreath on the Carnegie Library for Christmas, but it would be blocked by trees. And other trees are beginning to rub against an expensive mural she has along one side of her building that shows points of Newnan and Coweta history.
"The trees are an issue we need to address," said Mayor Keith Brady. "It is not an easy fix… there are lots of opinions."
After referring the issue to staff, council approved a request to add about $10,000 to the budget for Christmas decorations.
The city had budgeted $6,350 in the annual budget for Christmas decorations. The Christmas Committee asked for the increase to help it move from standard, short-lived and easily breakable light bulbs to “longer lasting and essentially unbreakable LED lights” for lighting various tree trunks. The increase also includes additional wreaths and other lighting.
In other action, council:
• Approved an additional health care insurance option for city employees.
The additional plan — POS 80/60 — would be less expensive than the current HMO plan and also would also would allow employees to use out-of-network physicians, which is not allowed under the HMO plan.
The POS plan would cost $386 for an employee and $1,023 for a family. The current HMO plan costs $459 for an employee and $1,218 for a family.
• Approved the 2013 Newnan Convention Center Authority budget.
The budget calls for $364,244 in total revenue, broken down as $191,244 for charges for services and $173,000 in transfers from the city that comes from the hotel/motel tax and rental vehicle tax. Expenses include $195,294 for personnel services and benefits, $95,900 for professional and other services, $66,250 for supplies and operating charges and $6,800 for repairs and maintenance all totaling $364,244.
• Approved a request from the Newnan Police Department to continue leasing a building on Powell Street at $900 per month for certain police officers.
• Approved a request from the Newnan Junior Service League to hold their annual 5K/10K and one-mile fun run on March 2, starting at 7:45 a.m., and to utilize the southwest corner of the Court Square as a set-up.
• Approved a request from First Baptist Church to close Madison Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to distribute food from the “Mobile Food Pantry” on Oct. 26 and Dec. 28.
• Approved a request from Sirens Media to film around Newnan and specifically in Greenville Street Park on Sept. 12 from 1-8:30 p.m., Sept. 16 from 8-11 a.m. and Sept. 15 from 1-4 p.m. with a single camera and small crew.
• Approved a request from Newnan Lodge No. 299 to hold a motorcycle ride for cancer on Oct. 6 starting at 9 a.m. The request includes closing Madison Street from Jefferson Street to Jackson Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Approved a request from Angel’s House children’s shelter to hold its annual Run for Angels 5K/10K and 1-mile fun run/walk on Feb. 2, beginning at 8 a.m.