O'Neal Plaza renovation work currently on schedule

Rashad Milligan/Douglas County Sentinel

Douglasville Planning Director Michelle Wright said all brickwork, capstones, lighting and work on getting the new fountain running at O'Neal Plaza are expected to be completed by the end of the third week in September. Landscaping for the project will begin in October. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the renovated plaza is set for Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. The first official event in the renovated plaza is the Chili Cook Off, which is on Oct. 21.

Work is still on schedule for the Oct. 19 ribbon-cutting for the renovated O'Neal Plaza.

Currently, concrete can be seen along much of the plaza, but Douglasville Planning Director Michelle Wright said there's more work to be done.

"Right now it looks very plain," Wright said. "Because there's nothing there, but once you get the lighting in and the landscaping and the fountain going, I don't think that it'll look as plain as it does now."

This week construction workers are focusing on finishing the brickwork and the capstones. The lighting will be put in and the fountain will be running after next week.

"Everything should be done by the third week in September, we'll just be waiting on the landscaping," Wright said. "We have everything ready to go on the landscaping, it's just that the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) won't let us do it until October."

The DOT doesn't allow landscaping work until October because of the heat during the summer. Lead architect for the project, Terry Miller, said the budget for the renovations is $616,000, with the vast majority of the funds coming from a T-Grant through GDOT.

The entire project, with the Welcome Center included, is expected to cost about $900,000. With voters approving a new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) last November, the city will be able to use $247,500 from SPLOST to bridge the gap from the original budget.

At a city council committees meeting in July, officials said work on the Welcome Center, located on the western edge of the plaza along Broad Street, was set to start this fall with a projected completion date of January 2018.

Work on the plaza renovation was delayed partly over the summer because of the discovery of unexpected utilities during construction. Another delay in the process was having to renegotiate the contract to fit within the city's budget, which resulted in having to redesign the project, officials said.

The redesign and renegotiations took about six to eight months, according to consultant and project manager Ligia Florim with Bron Cleveland Associates, Inc. Miller said he's unaware what, if any delays, to the project the remanants from Hurricane Irma might cause. The city closed all unessential offices Monday due to the storm, which was moving out of the area by Tuesday.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the plaza will be on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. The plaza will be open after the ribbon cutting and the first event is the Cultural Arts Council's 21st annual Chili Cook Off on Oct. 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"We're very proud and excited to see the plaza project coming to completion in the next few weeks, but we're really looking forward to seeing it once again becoming the center of activity and vibrancy in our revitalized downtown," Miller said.

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