The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners voted on Tuesday to chip in $1.4 million to aid in the construction of the second phase Commerce Boulevard. The project is headed to the city of Canton for a vote.
Commerce Boulevard lies between Highway 20/Cumming Highway and extends behind SuperTarget, stopping just north of Canton Creek within the Canton Marketplace development.
The second segment includes building a bridge over the creek and extending the road up to Highway 140/Hickory Flat Highway.
The estimated costs for the second segment is $8.5 million.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has committed $4.3 million toward the project, which leaves the remaining $4.2 million to be divided up between the city of Canton, Cherokee County and Northside Hospital.
The Canton City Council will review the proposal during its March 1 work session, City Manager Scott Wood said.
County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the “real driver” of the board’s decision is the economic impact of the hospital’s plans in Cherokee County.
Don Hausfeld, CEO of The Landon Group, which serves as development consultants to Northside Hospital, said the next step will be to approach the city of Canton to discuss its possible contribution.
Once funding is secured, Hausfeld said construction could start as early as May and will take about a year to complete.
The road will be four lanes between Highway 20 and Highway 140.
Wood said potential funding sources for the city include the general fund, impact fees and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars.
“Identifying $1.4 million non-appropriated dollars will be a huge challenge for us,” he added.
Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood agreed, adding that $1.4 million “may be a little heavy for us.”
“We certainly want to do what we can to expedite and assist in getting a new hospital,” he added.
The completion of the road would allow Northside Hospital to begin expanding its medical services in Cherokee County.
Along with planning to build a replacement 84-bed hospital, the long-range plans for the campus will include a women’s center, a multi-specialty medical office building and cancer center, a parking deck with 600 parking spots and a 300-spot surface parking lot.
The project is expected to cost about $250 million and the hospital is expected to open by March 2015.
The replacement hospital will allow for more space to adequately care for patients, and the new facility will be 300,000 square feet, twice the size of its 150,000 square-foot facility.
County Commissioner Jim Hubbard said he was “thrilled” to see the project move forward.
“To have two main thoroughfares to get to the hospital will be a tremendous boost to our emergency personnel,” he said, adding the residents of Hickory Flat will also be able to use the new Commerce Boulevard to get to Canton Marketplace.
County Commissioner Harry Johnston called the economic impact of the hospital and its campus “huge,” adding the medical offices “provides the jobs we are looking for.”
Commissioner Jason Nelms noted Northside’s ability to come up with its share of funding “speaks volumes” for its team and its dedication to moving the project forward.
“It’s got a brand that fits like a hand in a glove in this county,” he said.
County Commissioner Karen Bosch added she is pleased to be part of anything Northside Hospital-Cherokee is “doing here in Cherokee County.”
“I see it as an economic engine,” she said of the impact of the replacement hospital and other services.
In other business, the county approved its nine-month fiscal year 2012 budget.
The nine-month budget is proposed at $132.3 million, down from $133.8 million when compared to the first nine months of 2011.
The budget calls for no layoffs, furloughs or cuts to countywide services and is based on a 9.13 millage rate.
The commission also voted to ratify its request to the Cherokee County Legislative Delegation to pass local legislation calling for a referendum to implement a Homestead Option Sales Tax.
If the local legislation is approved, the referendum will be held in November. The ratification formalizes the board’s decision to go with possibly implementing a HOST over a Local Option Sales Tax and firms up its choice for a November referendum.
During its meeting on Tuesday, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners also:
* Proclaimed Feb. 23 as Rotary Day in Cherokee County;
* Approved a resolution in support of updating and amending the 1966 original text defining the qualifying scope within the constitutional Cherokee County Development Authority’s charter;
* Approved a fiscal year 2013 Georgia Department of Transportation grant application for $850,845 for operating and capital expenses associated with the CATS 5311 Rural Public Transportation program.
* Approved a service agreement with Georgia Power Lighting to provide lighting at the Waleska Splash Pad project for a monthly charge of $189.78;
* Approved reimbursing Commissioner Karen Bosh $115.50 for her travels to Monroe for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia training committee meeting;
* Approved change orders in the amount of $45,000 to contractors for additional fencing and landscaping at the soccer complex on Blalock Road; and
* Approved awarding Senior HOME Repair inspection services contract to Stephen L. Chalfant for $2,800 per unit for a total amount of $22,400, which will be reimbursed by the Home Program Grant through the Georgia Urban County Consortium;