County made us an offer we couldn’t refuse


Here we are now, two-and-a-half years after we received formal notification from Fayette County that our property would either be taken peacefully for the West Fayetteville Bypass, or forcefully by condemnation.

The county commissioners at that time were totally reprehensible in their refusal to see the vast public opposition to the project. It was like talking to five stone faces. I may have well as spoken to Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson by going to Stone Mountain with my megaphone. Others feel the same way.

These officials, though, blame the impacted landowners for the entire public outrage. The three stone faces haven’t been voted out of office yet, but they continue to ignore those voters who voted the other two commissioners out of office for not listening to the public outcry.

What is the glue that bonds them to the WFB project? Can’t they understand that wasting millions of dollars on a pure pork project is not being well received by anybody? They can’t show us evidence of any benefits. Absolutely no proof that the WFB is needed.

Development and growth in Fayette County has been almost stagnant for years now. The economy is not expected to recover for at least several more years. While there was a traffic study done on the WFB, it did not reveal anything of significance beyond what the WFB would be capable of handling in terms of traffic. The traffic study did not indicate that stopping or detaining the WFB would create traffic problems in Fayetteville.

Certainly moving the WFB many years ahead of its original conceptual construction date in a poor economy does not bode well for our trusted county officials. But they had to provide some justification for spending so much money.

We currently have two new commissioners who are actually trying to represent the public in getting the other three to see the light. I see those three as “the Three Stones on Stonewall Avenue.“ However, this terminology would not be entirely fair, as they have been known to bang gavels and speak on other subjects. Sort of a “duck’s back” approach to those who have been throwing WFB water at them for so long.

What is needed is a public hearing where all citizens would be given an opportunity to publicly discuss the WFB project with the commissioners. They claim to have already done this when they held an open house on the project in September 2008.

However, what they really did was build a model that showed “here’s what we’re going to do to you with your land. If you have any questions, we’ll answer them one on one, but no audience.” What they also didn’t tell you was that the written comments they got from attendees of that meeting were overwhelmingly negative.

That started the ball rolling on the WFB Coalition, and it has gotten bigger ever since. Further, every public comment on the WFB that has been made since it was introduced has been negative. And most support has been from folks whose land is not impacted.

I guess I’m stuck with the three stones till the end of next year. We won’t give up. Hopefully, the other two won’t even try to come back.

Steve Smithfield

Fayette County, Ga.