Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015    Login | Register           

Dam park is boondoogle

I opposed the recent county-wide infrastructure SPLOST in part because I did not want to give the Fayette County Board of Commissioners a slush fund with which to pay off political debts and buy votes, and in part because the so-called “plan” for spending that money had more holes than the board’s collective heads.

More recently, I called the board to task for spending nearly $1 million of water system customers’ money on a park, including $5,000 for a monument to memorialize themselves and other politicians.

Now, I see that the board has found a way to spend stormwater fees to create another park in a move that is unnecessary and which may be an illegal use of those fees.

Costs for repairing the Longview Dam (also known as Margaret Phillips Lake Dam) are estimated to be $1.4 million, and include the creation of a “passive park” adjoining the lake.

The lake could be drained for about $250,000. This would completely satisfy the legitimate, stormwater requirements. But, the board plans to spend $1.4 million. You do the math: the board is going to spend at least $1.15 million of stormwater fees in order to create the park.

And that’s just the beginning. At some point, there will be a decision to add an access road. In order to accommodate us handicapped people, there will have to be paved parking, perhaps paved trails for wheelchair access.

The park will have to be maintained — meaning mowing, trimming, bush-hogging, weed control. Security will have to be provided. There will have to be signs installed. Perhaps one will have the names of the five commissioners. Perhaps there will be demands for restrooms, picnic tables, who knows what?

So, in addition of the $1.15 million of your stormwater fees that will be spent so that the park can exist, we’ll all be paying through property taxes and the general fund in perpetuity.

Where is the outrage that surfaced last year when people in the unincorporated county got their stormwater fee bills? Where is the outrage that surfaced at the subsequent town hall meetings? (And where are the 85 percent of the registered electors in Fayette County who didn’t show up to vote for or against the SPLOST?)

I anticipate the board saying that the money will actually come from the sale of revenue bonds through the county’s Public Facilities Authority. This would be, however, simply another example of the “shell game” I accused them of planning to play with the SPLOST.

I don’t live in unincorporated Fayette County; I’m not immediately impacted. But like you, I pay toward the county general fund and, like you, will be paying for this boondoggle for the rest of my life.

Paul Lentz
Peachtree City, Ga.

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