Thursday, February 28, 2019

City Council approves compromise plan to save portion of Seaboard Freight Station

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 3:30 PM

Savannah City Council today voted 6-3 in favor of a controversial compromise plan that would save about 20 percent of the historic Seaboard Freight Station from demolition.

The so-called "head house," or office space, would be preserved and moved to one corner of the new Gateway Project at 703 Louisville Rd.

The warehouse section would be demolished as originally planned.

The plan originally called for the demolition of the entire historic train depot to be replaced by a seven-story luxury apartment complex, the first major private investment in the new "Canal District."

Alderpersons Johnson, Thomas and Shabazz voted in dissent.

Mayor DeLoach said when public outcry spread about the demolition, he called project architect Pat Shay and said, "What we had planned for here and what is planned now are two different things."

DeLoach said that after the conversation and some changes to the general development plan, "we've got a direction to go in."

Alderman Brian Foster said of developer WEDP, "They came back with a new proposal that I think is going to be positively received. We feel like they have listened."

Alderman Van Johnson, however, wanted to clarify for the public that only about 20 percent of the entire structure would be preserved under the new plan. "The rest is going to go... I think it's important for the public to be aware of that."

Developers attorney John Northup told Council that the Seaboard Freight Station "was already somewhat dilapidated" when purchased by local investors back in the mid-'80s.

He claimed "there is a lot of debate" about whether the building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, saying that "Even if it were found to be eligible that doesn't trigger any additional protection."

There is disagreement on this point; the developer's consultant study says the building is likely ineligible. However, the Historic Savannah Foundation's study says that it is eligible.

Alderman Tony Thomas said, "There's a history lesson in what we just did. When you chop 80 percent of the building and say you protected it, I have a problem with that... it's hypocrisy."

Alderman John Hall expressed thanks to citizens who led opposition to the full demolition of the building.

"It was very vocal to us, and I admire them for doing that," Hall said.

Thomas said it was inappropriate for Mayor DeLoach to hold meetings with the developer without the input of the district alderman, Van Johnson, who concurred that he hadn't been invited to any recent meetings other than an email on Feb. 26.

"There's been an outpouring of community outreach about saving this building," Thomas said. "I'm curious when I hear about all the different aldermen that are involved in a project, and the district alderman hasn't been involved, I have to question that. I don't think that's proper protocol."

When asked if there's a reason why he waited so long to contact Johnson, Shay said, "I wasn't able to reach every single one of you... finally when I knew we were going to live with it, I sent it out... through email. If it feels like a slight, I apologize."

The general development plan approved by Council will have to go back before the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Johnson urged Council to work with the City Manager to have a protocol in place to protect historic buildings outside the Landmark District so that "we don't have to go through this every single time."

39th annual Telfair Ball raises record $1 million

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 1:28 PM

Telfair Museums announced today that its 39th Annual Telfair Ball on February 23, 2019, held for the first time in Forsyth Park, raised a record-breaking $1 million. Proceeds directly fund the museum’s educational programs, outreach, operations, and related activities, bringing the benefits of art to more than 234,000 people each year both onsite and in the community.

As the city’s hub for arts education, Telfair Museums provides more than 6,500 fourth-graders, Head Start, and Title 1 school students with free tours of major exhibitions, free art workshops, and free passes for their families. In 2019, eighth-graders will tour the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters with a new American history curriculum.

Telfair Museums is the only visual arts institution in the city to provide consistent, onsite arts outreach to all of Savannah’s districts. All programs are free of charge and use art as a way to empower individuals who may be struggling with obstacles such as generational poverty. This ensures that all individuals, regardless of their age or socioeconomic backgrounds, have access to the cognitive benefits and enriching power of art.

City cuts “green” ribbon to open first tree nursery

Posted on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 1:23 PM

The City of Savannah held a “green” ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday to open the first of three tree nursery’s on vacant City-owned lots.

The City will seed and nurture 500 trees over the next three years using funding from a $233,244 grant received from the Southeast Sustainable Communities Fund. Followed by, Loop it Up Savannah, a grassroots arts organization, that has partnered with the City and contributed artistic elements to the neighborhood tree nurseries.

The Gwinnett Street site is the first of three nurseries the apprentices plan to build and maintain. The others sites are located on Augusta Avenue in the City’s 1st Aldermanic District and on Mills B. Lane Boulevard in the City’s 5th Aldermanic District.

TIU investigates pedestrian-involved crash on White Bluff

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 1:06 PM

Savannah Police’s Traffic Investigation Unit is investigating a vehicle versus pedestrian crash that occurred on February 27.

The accident occurred at 1:40 p.m. when, Joseph Barry, 50, in a Nissan crossover, was traveling on White Bluff Road, approaching Hampstead Avenue. He observed the pedestrian, identified as Linda Williams, 72, standing by the side of the road, not in a crosswalk. A preliminary investigation revealed that Williams walked out in front of Barry's vehicle, which did not give Barry the opportunity to stop. His vehicle struck Williams, and she was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries.

The TIU continues to investigate this crash.

Classical and jazz pianist virtuosos join for final Piano in the Arts concert on Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 1:03 PM

Renowned classical pianist Benjamin Warsaw, DMA, assistant professor of music on Georgia Southern University's Armstrong Campus, and jazz pianist virtuoso, Joe Alterman, will join for a mixed-genre Piano in the Arts concert series performance, “Crossroads, Jazz Meets Classical.” The event will be on March 3, at 3 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit georgiasouthern.edu/armstrongtickets.

Celtic Ceol Feis set to reboot former Tara Feis

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 12:53 PM

Padraig Allen of the McLean Avenue Band
  • Padraig Allen of the McLean Avenue Band

Celtic Ceol Feis, a reboot of the very popular downtown festival formerly known as Tara Feis, hits Emmet Park on Saturday, March 9.

Fans of Tara Feis will be pleased with the lineup for this family friendly event, which is now organized by the Savannah Waterfront Association.

Opening ceremonies with presenting of the colors and national anthems will kick things at 11 AM, including a blessing from The Most Reverend John Kevin Boland, Bishop Emeritus at the Diocese of Savannah.

Irish music and dancing from: Irish Dancers of Savannah; Harry O’Donoghue; Legacy Irish Dance Academy; and Tracie Brown on the Celtic harp.

Headlining will be New York's Padraig Allen & McLean Avenue Band, who combine traditional Irish tunes and ballads with more contemporary Irish sounds.

The former Tara Feis Festival, once run by the City of Savannah, was discontinued due to a change in City funding priorities, in a move quite unpopular with many in the local Irish community.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Montgomery Street set to begin two-way traffic Thursday morning

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 3:42 PM

montgomery_street.jpg

Traffic on Montgomery Street will begin running two ways the morning of February 28 as the City "prepares the corridor for the opening of the Savannah Cultural Arts Center," a spokesman said today.

The change is anticipated to begin at about 10 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 28.

"Montgomery Street has operated as a northbound one-way road since 1967 when the I-16 overpass was opened. The City has converted the street to allow both north- and southbound traffic in order to support greater access to the Civic Center and Savannah Cultural Arts Center from all areas of downtown," the City says.

New traffic signals, curb cuts, striping, signage and other streetscape changes have been installed to support the conversion. Digital message boards alerting the public to the coming change have been placed along Montgomery Street.

The Savannah Cultural Arts Center is slated to open this spring.

“Converting Montgomery Street into a two-way street allows visitors to turn right on Oglethorpe Avenue and safely drop off people at the entrance to the Savannah Cultural Arts Center,” said City Traffic Engineer Steve Henry. “The conversion creates greater connectivity and access to the Civic Center and Savannah Cultural Arts Center.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

City bringing big changes to Chippewa Square for this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 10:58 AM

City of Savannah officials held a press conference this morning to go over some key changes to this year's St. Patrick's Day celebration — the official marking of which will be Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16 this year.

(The parade will be on Saturday, March 16, not on the actual St. Patrick's Day since that falls on a Sunday.)

Chief among them are big changes to the Chippewa Square area, which was the scene of enormous litter piles and general bad behavior on last year's parade day.

Photos of the aftermath shocked many people on social media in the days following the parade last year.

According to the City's Susan Broker, "No Styrofoam coolers, tables, or tents will be allowed" in Chippewa Square this year.

"One of the issues we had was the amount of Styrofoam left behind," Broker said. "People buy those coolers because they're disposable and they don't have to take them home. We want people to only bring the type of coolers that they’ll use again."

Chairs will be allowed in Chippewa Square, as will be non-Styrofoam coolers.

Alderwoman Carol Bell said about the Chippewa Square issues, "City Council was very insistent about not taking it lightly. We want you to come to our property and take care of it. We want the public to be aware we’re taking this very seriously."

Another big change to Chippewa Square will be the addition of a mobile Recorder's Court on the west side of the square.

"There will be clerks of the court and a judge who will be seeing cases and addressing citations right on site," said Broker.

Generally, the focus this year will be "on litter and underage drinking, and on public intoxication," Broker said. "We want to convey to our residents and to our visitors, come here, have fun, be safe, but follow the laws."

City Director of Parking and Mobility Services Sean Brandon said all parking meters will be enforced on the Friday prior to the Saturday parade, but of course you won't have to pay for parking on Saturday.

However, Brandon stressed that all other parking violations will be enforced, including parking in bike lanes.

"We do not allow folks to park on bike lanes. If you park in a bike lane you will get a citation," he said. "The bike lane does not become a parking lane on parade day."

He also encouraged the use of parking garages in the parade area on Bryan, State, and Whitaker Streets, but reiterated that "please understand once you park there on parade day you will NOT be let out of that garage until the parade course is clear and you get the green light from police."

Chatham Area Transit will run an enhanced schedule during the celebration, all fee-free thanks to payments to CAT from the City of Savannah.

"We strongly encourage folks to use that as an option," Brandon said.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hwy 80 to Tybee closed due to flooding

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 at 9:40 AM

The Chatham County Police Department has closed down Highway 80 at the Bull River Bridge due to flooding. The roadway will be closed all the way to Tybee Island.

They say the road will be re-opened once the water recedes and the road is safe for travel. Officers estimate it will be some time after noon today before the road is re-opened.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Four historical markers to be unveiled in Southside Savannah

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 1:46 PM

The ceremony will be held Friday, February 22, to unveil one of four new historical markers in the White Bluff and Coffee Bluff area. It will begin at 10:15 a.m. at the Crusader Center, 81 Coffee Bluff Villa Road, and is being celebrated as part of the Savannah Black Heritage Festival- presented by Savannah State University and the City of Savannah.

The markers identify four public waterways that were used by freed slaves during the nineteenth century. They settled in the area after leaving plantations on the nearby St. Catherine’s, Sapelo and Ossabaw islands.

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