The Spalding County Board of Commissioners recommended Spalding County’s commuter rail station be located at the University of Georgia-Griffin campus at the meeting Monday night.
Commissioner Eddie Freeman said the county needs a starting point and the site the city approved ” located behind the Spalding County Courthouse Annex ” is a starting point even though he would rather the station be at UGA-Griffin.
Vice Chairwoman Gwen Flowers-Taylor said the county had gathered $10 million to improve UGA-Griffin, so it would make sense to have the train stop there.
She said if people take the train into Griffin to go to the college and get off behind the courthouse annex, they will need transportation to the campus. She said Griffin residents interested in taking the train to Jonesboro or elsewhere could get aboard at the campus just as easily as they could in the city.
Spalding County Board of Commissioners Chairman Eddie Goss asked if the county could approve the measure with the caveat that the train stop at the campus as well. He said it is imperative action be taken soon on the commuter rail or the state could forfeit the $87 million federal grant intended to start the line.
Flowers-Taylor said there is room for more parking at the UGA-Griffin site than there would be at the site behind the courthouse annex.
Commissioner Bob Gilreath said too many stops would defeat the purpose of the train moving people quickly. He said the line is not just for students but also for people who want to eat and shop in Griffin. Flowers-Taylor said there are few shopping opportunities in downtown Griffin but there are more in the northern part of the county relatively close to UGA-Griffin.
Freeman said developers will not do anything if the county does not make a decision about where to put the station. County Manager William Wilson Jr. said the downtown site is favored by the state Department of Transportation because the various studies ” which would take two to three years to complete ” have already been done for the site.
Freeman moved to approve the downtown site but his motion did not receive a second. Flowers-Taylor moved to approve the UGA-Griffin site as the primary station with downtown as a standby. Gilreath seconded. The commissioners voted 3-1 to approve the UGA-Griffin site, with Freeman dissenting.