Roswell’s stalled Oxbo Road project pushes forward

Editor’s note: The original version of this story said only Councilman Marcelo Zapata opposed purchasing more property for the Oxbo Road project. Council members Mike Palermo and Christine Hall also voted against the deal.

Roswell’s Oxbo Road project moved a step forward Monday when City Council agreed to purchase small parcels of land and temporarily acquire other property needed to complete the project.

The city will pay property owner Leslie Reed $299,000 for temporary use of property on Maple and Atlanta Streets and permanent ownership of portions of that land. Roswell will pay Reed an additional $75,000 to remove three residential structures on those streets.

Stalled construction is expected to restart soon according to the city attorney. The city is realigning Oxbo and nearby side streets and intends to build a safer intersection with S. Atlanta Street. But, major roadwork on the closed road stopped several months ago. In February, Mayor Lori Henry launched an investigation into mismanagement of the overbudget, delayed project.

The Oxbo realignment is a Transportation Special Purpose Local Optional Sales Tax project approved by voters in 2016. Neighbors have described the $14 million project as a failure and called the torn-up road an eyesore.

“Obviously Oxbo has been a very disappointing and drawn-out situation,” Councilman Mike Palermo said during the Monday meeting. “We need to finish it. We need to finish it fast.”

On Reed’s land, work crews will move underground pipes, perform utility work as well as construction and slope work for the road, City Attorney David Davidson said via email.

Reed’s properties, which total less than an acre, will cost the city much less than the $5.5 million paid to owners of Roswell Hardware Company in February for property located at the corner of S. Atlanta Street and Oxbo Road.

In that case, Roswell initially paid the owners $3 million for temporary use of their property and then paid another $2.5 million in a settlement after not returning the property at the agreed upon time.

According to Roswell’s agreement with Reed, the city will return her property when Oxbo realignment is completed, except for two small parcels needed by the city.

Reed, who declined to comment for this story, has plans to build a residential development on her remaining property.

Council members Mike Palermo, Marcelo Zapata and Christine Hall voted against the agreement with Reed. Zapata called the process broken and said the temporary right-of-way of Reed’s property is too costly to taxpayers.

Councilman Matt Judy called the Oxbo Road project a mess.

“None of us like it,” Judy said. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve got to get it done in the cheapest manner that we can while still doing a good project and also limiting future liabilities and cost.”