Mayor: Fayetteville aiming for ‘premiere city’ status

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Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson. File photo.
Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson. File photo.

Top Fayetteville priorities are enhancing public safety and fixing deteriorating infrastructure — 

There was an abundance of activity in Fayetteville during 2018. Reviewing the numerous activities, Mayor Ed Johnson provided his thoughts on the city’s efforts to press forward to become a premiere city.

“As we approached the end of 2018, we examined the year in retrospect as the city of Fayetteville continues to press forward and improve the quality of life for the increasing population and seeks to become a ‘premiere city’ for all of its citizens,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the early part of 2018 came with the approval of a countywide Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that would allow the county and its municipalities to get a “jump start” on projects that could allow them to recover from the recession of 2008 and get projects that have become major priorities accomplished.

“The city of Fayetteville seized the opportunity to establish public safety and deteriorating infrastructure as its top priorities,” Johnson noted. “The city administration and council established a unified strategic plan to not only address these priorities, but also one that would pursue making the new 2018 Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Master Plan a reality as they seek to make Fayetteville a more vibrant, walkable, livable and attractive community for all age groups and family types.”

Johnson explained that the first priority for enhancing public safety was addressed and achieved by the city hiring 12 new firefighters and five new police officers. There is an ongoing assessment and review of the city’s need to hire more public safety personal to focus on “prevention and being proactive as it relates to crime in the city,” Johnson said.

Additionally, Johnson said, the Fayetteville Police Department established the Community Activity, Resource and Education Unit to enhance community relations, which has resulted in building a better community/police relationship.

“The SPLOST has also allowed funding to proceed with the design and construction of Fire Station No. 93 that will provide coverage for the west side of Fayetteville,” Johnson said. “This will improve emergency response times and help the city prepare for continued growth and development in that area.”

Also in 2018, the city hired consultants and engineers to help improve its wastewater treatment and stormwater infrastructure. A multi-year city street repaving project began in 2018, and several roadways have been resurfaced. Traffic studies were also initiated to address residents’ concerns. The Downtown Master Plan is being implemented, which will introduce a grid network of city streets and bypasses to reduce traffic on state highways passing through Fayetteville, Johnson said.

“The 2018 Comprehensive Plan was developed with collaboration from a large number of Fayetteville residents, and it reflects the citizens’ desire for downtown Fayetteville to become a more pedestrian-friendly, family-focused, green space-oriented destination,” said Johnson. “The city staff and the elected officials have been diligent in making these objectives a reality by purchasing property in the immediate downtown area to build a new city government complex, which will include outside amenities for use by our citizens.”

Johnson explained that the Comprehensive Plan cannot be achieved without increasing population density within the historic downtown area.

“The City Council and staff have become selective in choosing developers for both multi- and single-family homes that will be affordable to our business, city and county employees, and mixed-use developments that will attract vibrant foot traffic in the downtown area,” said Johnson. “This has proven to attract quality businesses in many other parts of our communities. The city is working diligently to upgrade, repurpose, renovate and even rebuild older shopping plazas within the city to attract upscale, modern and innovative businesses.”

Johnson recognized the role of a number of private entities in the ongoing evolution of the city:

• Fayetteville can and should achieve its goal of becoming a premiere city with the ongoing contributions by Pinewood Atlanta Studios and Pinewood Forest.

• Piedmont Fayette Hospital continues to be a major stakeholder and employer with an exceptional reputation in the health care industry.

• The rapid growth of the Georgia Military College Fayetteville campus and its integration and partnership with the Fayette County Board of Education and other regional educational institutions makes Fayetteville a great place for education and career development opportunities.

Perhaps as important as anything, Johnson referenced recent Fayette County School System demographic study showing that, by 2025, 34 percent of Fayette County’s population will be age 60 and over while only 18 percent of the county’s population will be age 19 or younger.

“The most recent surveys and statistics reflect a percentage increase in the aging population and a percentage decrease in younger people,” said Johnson. “Fayetteville would like to be a catalyst to change these statistics, but more importantly Fayetteville is seeking to become a premiere city that provides a high quality of living for its citizens with expectations that it is a destination for all who seek this level of enthusiasm for our future. I look forward to 2019 being even more productive for the city of Fayetteville.”