This time the County Engineer said Lovell was the only qualified consultant for an ecological and environmental study (because of what requirement we don’t know), for a land swap (for what we don’t know), not funded by the county (funded by whom we don’t know). You the taxpayers and people potentially affected by any ecological and environmental problems: do you think you might want to know? They vote tonight about what was proposed at the 26 August 2013 Work Session of the Lowndes County Commission.
Invisible County Engineer Mike Fletcher said he had received a proposal from Lovell Engineering Services for the 62.49 acre tract just north of the existing skate park Parks and Rec owns and just north of the old rest area.
The county Tax Assessors maps don’t show any tract of that size near that location, but they do show a 69 acre tract owned by “STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT” on the west side of I-75 (not on the east side as indicated on the map shown in the Commission meeting).
The Invisible Engineer continued:
In order to get a land swap, the county is going to have to do an environmental assessment with ecology study for GDOT. Lovell Engineering is the only consultant in Lowndes County that is pre-qualified by GDOT to do 106.f ecology and environmental studies.
Since it’s a land swap, maybe they’re swapping for part or all of the Kritzer property east of I-75. We don’t know; he didn’t say.
He didn’t say, but GDOT’s Online Environmental Procedures Manual mentions:
Assessment of Effects (AOE) — Document prepared in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and submitted to the Historic Preservation Division (HPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It discusses the effects of the implementation of the proposed project to hist oric and archaeological resources that are listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NR). This document requires concurrence of the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).So maybe he was referring to Section 106 (16 U.S.C. 470f) of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 as amended through 1992:
The head of any Federal agency having direct or indirect jurisdiction over a proposed Federal or federally assisted undertaking in any State and the head of any Federal department or independent agency having authority to license any undertaking shall, prior to the approval of the expenditure of any Federal funds on the undertaking or prior to the issuance of any license, as the case may be, take into account the effect of the undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register. The head of any such Federal agency shall afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation established under Title II of this Act a reasonable opportunity to comment with regard to such undertaking.
That doesn’t say anything about ecology or environmental studies, although other parts of the GDOT EPM do. I guess we can guess. But why should we have to?
Also, both the GDOT EPM and the NHPA seem to require public hearings. Will we get any?
Commissioner John Page wanted to know:
This will come out of your department?
No sir. I don’t have $79,400.
Commissioner Page then said he hadn’t read far enough. But he didn’t tell us where the $79,400 would come from. By his expression we can guess the document he was reading said, but we don’t get to see it. Unless somebody files an open records request, which won’t get satisfied until after they vote tonight.
Only two weeks ago the county awarded two no-bid contracts to Lovell Engineering. I know nothing bad about Lovell Engineering. What I wonder is why is the county awarding all these no-bid contracts to the same firm?
If Lowndes County acted like it was in a real metro area and published board packet items along with its agendas, like for example Augusta-Richmond County and Glynn County do, we’d at least know what the Invisible Engineer was talking about.
Here’s the video:
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC)
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 26 August 2013.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE).