The members of RCSE were fortunate to hear from Bridget Ledy and Bret Bell on the Zoom Meeting today.  Before they spoke, President Laura Lane McKinnon read a note to that Harriet Meyerhoff had written saying how much Eric loved being a member of our club.  Laura Lane then thanked everyone who had taken the time to fill out a meeting survey.  The Board will be discussing the results next Friday and will use the information to help formulate a plan for the upcoming months.  After all Rotary business items were discussed, John Neely introduced our speakers who talked about the new Arena Project and Canal District.  
Bret Bell, COO for the city, started by talking about the Arena Project.  The Arena Project and Canal District (the area around the arena) are located west of the downtown Historic District with the Arena being located at the intersection of Gwinnett and Stiles.  This project will be a literal extension of downtown.  While working on this project, the city will also be working with the local community to preserve the surrounding neighborhoods - Carver Village, Cloverdale, Brickyard, and the West Savannah community.  The Arena cost $165 million to build.  The money to fund this project has been generated through SPLOST ($120 million) and the motor vehicle rental tax.  70% of the funding is paid for by visitors to our city.  They broke ground on the Arena in the Fall of 2019.  The Arena will hold 9500 people, have three event spaces, 2000 parking spaces in a lot, 400 parking spaces in a parking garage attached to the Arena, and will be home to a minor league hockey team.  The Arena will be managed by a professional management company and it is projected to make money for the city.  The Arena should open in February 2022.  
Bridget Lidy, Director of Planning and Urban Development, then talked about how people will be able to access the Arena and Canal District.  One way, which is already happening, is the widening of Gwinnett Street.  Gwinnett will become a four lane road with a median in the middle.  Another key feature to the development and avenue to access the Arena and Canal District is through pedestrian walkways.  The path will start in Battlefield Park and continue down Louisville Road.  On the pathway, pedestrians will walk through a wetlands preserve park and over Springfield canal.  The canal is currently around 30-60 feet wide at various parts and there is plan in place to widen the canal to 100 feet.  The widening of the canal will take a couple of decades and be funded through SPLOST.  Finally, there are plans in place for the old Water Works building.  It has been neglected over the years and currently stores street sweepers.  The goal is to transform the space into a market with stalls for shops and food.