Some Bowersville Town Council members said Thursday following nearly two hours of public comments that they would consider altering or removing speed bumps installed recently on East Main Street.
The Bowersville Community Center was filled Thursday with local people voicing their opinions at a called meeting concerning the speed bumps.
Emergency services officials, county commissioners and the county’s schools superintendent were among the sizeable crowd, all saying their piece on the situation.
Bowersville Mayor Jim Jordan presided over the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, and allowed anyone who wished to speak, even if they didn’t sign up beforehand, to have three minutes to speak their mind. Jordan warned he would not hesitate to shut down the meeting if more than one person was attempting to talk simultaneously.
Council members were allowed to respond to the speakers and often did.
Councilwoman Cindy Hensley gave her reasoning as to why she voted for the speed bumps, citing safety, speeding and road damage concerns, before any audience members talked.
“I have spoken to our local safety personnel. I have heard the facts and determined that I may have made a hasty decision about speed bumps,” Hensley said. “I understand the problems that our local firefighters and other safety personnel face and why using College or West Main aren’t good choices. Shame on me for not consulting them first. I intend to work with them closely over the next few days to understand these issues more thoroughly.”
Bowersville resident Alicia Barnett voiced her concerns about harassment she’s received after she supported putting in the speed bumps because she was worried about her children’s safety.
Several community members who spoke after Barnett opposed the speed bumps and stated various reasons, including emergency response time.
Hart County Charter System Superintendent Jay Floyd, a Bowersville native, expressed his concerns for children’s safety who have to ride over the speed bumps everyday in school buses.
“I do see that there’s issues with our buses. I have ridden buses over the speed bumps,” Floyd said. “I’ve come to this conclusion, that there’s a 25 mph speed limit ... If you want people to go 25 or below, then why could we have not put in a 15 mph speed bump, or a 20 mph speed bump, instead of a zero.”
Floyd later requested a roll-call vote on whether or not each council member is for or against at least lowering the height speed bumps.
Hart County Fire Chief Jerry Byrum said it takes his fire crews two minutes longer in an emergency to take that route because of the speed bumps.
At one point in the meeting, Hart County Board of Commissioners chairman Joey Dorsey and Bowersville resident David Cagle argued about who would be allowed to speak last, before Jordan threatened to shut down the meeting. Cagle ultimately went first and spoke as a proponent of the speed bumps.
Dorsey spoke next, reiterating his sentiments from the commissioners meeting on July 23 during which he said it would be “a cold day in Hades” before he signed a reimbursement check for the speed bumps using SPLOST money.
“There’s a legitimate concern with these speed breakers. I still firmly believe that they need to be removed because of the emergency services issues,” Dorsey said.
The board at that meeting voted to send a letter to the Bowersville Town Council requesting it remove the bumps in 10 days or the board of commissioners would perform a critical review of the intergovernmental agreement between the two entities.
The Bowersville council met Tuesday and voted to send a letter to the county's board of commissioners giving the board 10 days to cut the SPLOST check for the bumps or it would request mediation under the 2017 SPLOST agreement.
Ultimately on Thursday, at least three of the Bowersville council members said they would consider a motion to discuss either making the speed bumps smaller or to remove them altogether. No formal action was taken.
The Hart County Board of Commissioners is set to host a called meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday to discuss the intergovernmental agreement between the two entities.