EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Board Building and Grounds Committee moved to the full board Tuesday a plan for angled parking along Jefferson Avenue.
County Board Chairman Jim Niemann brought the plan to the committee in June after a discussion with city officials. The plan is a modified version of one presented by the city's previous mayoral administration, which would have added eight parking spaces on the south side of the Effingham County Museum square, taking 7 feet of county right of way in the process.
The committee rejected the original plan in January, citing concerns over disrupting the county's property and the veterans and emergency personnel memorials. Niemann said that when he met with city officials in June, he suggested selling pavers – bricks that can be engraved with a memorial or other message – to be added along the museum lawn. That would profit the museum and veterans memorial, he said. City officials requested a 3-foot-wide curb, 5-foot-wide sidewalk and 2 feet for the pavers.
"The city thought that was a great idea, and they would pay for the pavers and install them, so if the museum wanted to sell them, that would be pure profit other than the engraving cost," Niemann said.
Niemann said the Effingham County Veterans Memorial Committee now has no interest in the pavers or the project as a whole. Niemann said he told city officials that he would ask the plan be moved to the full board only if the area near the veterans memorial was left alone. The city agreed.
Niemann's modifications to the original plan allowed for six to seven additional angled parking spaces, but would leave a parallel parking spot near the memorial, mirroring the parking along Fourth Street on the west side of the museum lawn. Niemann said he spoke with museum President Delaine Donaldson, who told him the museum was interested in the memorial pavers and is OK with the project.
Niemann said the veterans memorial group does not want the pavers to take away from the significance of the memorial.
"They aren't even interested in the paver because they think it would be conflict with the memorial they already have up," Niemann said.
Committee Vice Chairman Joe Thoele said he would be in favor of the plan if city officials leave the veterans memorial group out of the equation.
"I don't have a problem with it, but I don't want to see the city put any pressure on them (the veterans)," Thoele said. "I'd rather see it look the same as it does on Fourth Street."
Meanwhile, the committee approved an appropriation of $1,250 out of the hotel/motel fund to cover the extra cost of resurfacing and striping the county museum parking lot. $28,830 was previously approved for the project, but Thoele said the extra cost derived from some unexpected issues during the resurfacing project.
Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.