ROSWELL, Ga. — The Roswell City Council approved a $2.5 million budget amendment on Monday, Feb. 8, as part of a settlement agreement related to the Oxbo Road realignment project.

Mayor Lori Henry has launched an investigation into the matter.

Henry, Lori

HENRY

In 2017, the city purchased 0.36 acres of land at 685 Atlanta Street for $3 million under an agreement with the property owners that the city would provide a pad-ready site on or before Oct. 25, 2020.

City Attorney David Davidson said the city failed to meet that deadline and is in default under the terms of the agreement.

The pad-ready site was to include construction of an alleyway and relocation of an underground pipe.

Upon receiving the settlement amount, the property owners will discharge the city from all damages and claims, and the city will own the property. The city would then not be required to make the site pad ready under terms of the first agreement.

The Oxbo realignment was a tier 1 project on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Optional Sale Tax project list that was approved by the voters of Roswell in 2016, Davidson said.

Director of Transportation Muhammad Rauf said various factors played into the delays. The contractor was hired in late 2019 and the city broke ground on the Oxbo project on Jan. 27, 2020. At the time, the contractor indicated the project would be finished on time.

The project will be finished in about 18 to 24 months, Rauf said, adding that the contractor’s schedule is dependent on the utility companies completing their work first. He said other issues must be resolved before continuing, although he did not elaborate.

City officials and staff celebrate the Jan. 27 groundbreaking of the Oxbo realignment project.

Rauf did note that the contractor was originally on schedule to finish the pad ready site when work began, but Georgia Power did not complete some work and COVID-19 caused delays.

“Two years, three years ago, we did not know we were not going to be able to make the deadline,” Rauf said. “This all just evolved in the last 12 months. Pandemic being one reason and Georgia Power had cited that reason as the cause of the delay in their work.”   

City Councilman Marcelo Zapata called the situation inexcusable and poorly managed, and advocated for holding Davidson, Rauf and City Administrator Gary Palmer accountable for mismanaging the project.

He also asked why the Transportation Department began construction knowing that it couldn’t be finished by October 2020.

Henry reassured the council and shared their concerns, announcing she has launched an investigation to understand what happened.

“We're going to go from day one to the end, or at least up through this point in time, because we have been dealt a bad hand,” Henry said. “We've been given a mess that were caused by previous mayor and council, and we've been given a mess to clean it up,” Henry said.

She said she wants to understand exactly what happened so it never happens again, and she thinks the independent investigation will provide answers and show how the city can avoid similar situations in the future.

City Councilman Matt Judy supported the settlement, which passed 5-1, saying that no one was happy about the situation, but it could cost the city more money if it went through litigation. He added that the city will own the property and could eventually sell it to recoup some of the cost.

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