After nearly an hour in executive session Thursday night, Forsyth County commissioners voted to seek mediation with the city of Cumming over repairs to Sanders Road.
A portion of the road, which was damaged after a dam breach last spring, has been closed for months. During that time, county and city officials have been unable to decide which entity is responsible for repairs.
In its most recent offer to the county, city leaders offered to pay half of the estimated $173,000 cost. County leaders made a similar proposal to the city prior to that.
However, the sticking point seems to be proposed stipulations that one government release the other from legal liability in the dam collapse.
The May 19 breach of the dam, which contained nearby Lake Alice, sent torrents of water and sediment across Sanders Road and into a nearby cove of Lake Lanier.
The road has been closed to through traffic between Buford Dam and Mary Alice Park roads, a heavily wooded residential area east of Cumming, since June.
The Sanders issue is separate from the ongoing effort to restore and clean up the affected area, including the Lanier cove.
The motion to seek mediation with the city, which was made by Commissioner Brian Tam, was approved 4-0 with Chairman Pete Amos recused.
Cindy J. Mills, vice chair of the commission, said Friday that mediation seems to be the next logical step for trying to resolve the issue.
“We made an offer and they came back with a different offer, and we feel like something needs to be done and we’re sort of at an impasse,” she said. “We need mediation to help rectify our impasse.”
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said a letter proposing mediation was sent to Cumming’s attorney on Friday to see if city leaders would accept the proposition.
If they approve, the entities would then establish a date and time for the mediation, which Jarrard noted is different than litigation.
“This is a voluntary process that will be presided over, if it is accepted by the city, by a neutral mediator,” he said. “And then both sides will come to whatever the location is and the mediator will then work back and forth to try and achieve consensus.”
Mills said she hopes the process will be successful.
“We realize Sanders Road is very important to the people who travel it and we look forward to hopefully a quick resolution so we can get the road back open,” she said.