Acres of land in unincorporated Lithonia are being cleared for a project that DeKalb County commissioners have yet to vote on.
The Board of Commissioners wants to know what’s going on at the site of a proposed $1 million soap box derby facility.
In a memo dated May 30, the commissioners’ chief of staff Morris Williams asked DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis’ executive assistant Richard Stogner to provide commissioners with the details of the county’s cost on the soap box derby site preparation.
In addition to that performed by county employees, work at the site is being done by Atkins, an engineering and design company, and Cooper and Carter Tree Services.
Burke Brennan, the county’s chief communications officer said that “while the Board of Commissioners is continuing the review of the project bids, we have begun some construction utilizing existing and in-house resources in order to keep the ball rolling.
“At such time the BOC awards the current bid or asks for a re-bid we will be able to deduct these expense from the remaining cost of the work to be completed,” Brennan said.
Williams asked for the cost of county staff time, supplies, materials and third party vendors working on the property. Also requested were copies of “work orders, invoices, purchase orders and other proof of procurement of third party services in preparation of this property.”
DeKalb County commissioners want to know the specifics of “all costs incurred in preparation of this land since the initial proposal of it becoming a soap box derby track,” according to the memo.
The memo stated that this was an “informal request for information to clarify” a May 24 story in The Champion that “indicated that county workers have begun work on preparing the proposed soap box derby track in advance of approval by the board.”
“This is not a witch hunt,” Williams told The Champion May 31. “This is a fact-finding mission.”
In addition to the story in The Champion, Williams said, the memo was written after commissioners had questions about the project in two recent committee meetings.
A letter to commissions from a DeKalb County employee also contributed to commissioners’ questions. In the letter, the employee complained of work conditions and relations with the contractors at the soap box derby site.
The Board of Commissioners has been deferring vote on the proposed 890-foot, two-lane derby track after voicing concerns about how much use the track would get.
During a May 15 meeting, Ted Rhinehart, the county’s deputy chief operating officer for infrastructure, said county workers are “clearing and prepping the site so that if this bid goes forward, [contractors are] ready to go ahead and jump in.”
The proposal calls for the soap box track to be constructed at 1253 Rock Chapel Road adjacent to the Bransby YMCA on 10.9 acres purchased last year with funds from a 2001 parks bond.
The derby facility would have a multi-use building for supplies and cars, a classroom, concession stand, finish-line pavilion and grandstand.