“We want to be intentional with development policies that will stimulate pride in our city. This begins with welcoming developers who want to be long-term and integral partners in our community” —
Mayor Ed Johnson in his annual State of the City address Feb. 7 provided a review of Fayetteville’s accomplishments during 2018 and a look-ahead to the city’s near-term future.
Johnson said the city’s most exciting venture is the upcoming city center complex on Stonewall Avenue that will bring a new City Hall and provide a variety of park and recreational amenities for the community’s enjoyment. Melded with that view of tomorrow, said Johnson, was the revision of the Fayetteville Comprehensive Plan that had input from more than 550 citizens, who indicated they want a vibrant, walkable and engaging downtown area.
“We seek to serve as a unified City Council with a philosophy of effectively managing the population growth while improving the quality of life,” said Johnson. “We hope to gain citizen support in building a city where we treasure the past, but not allow it to limit our future.”
“As we grow, we recognize that we must be intentional and proactive in managing the growth that is happening, whether we like (that growth) or not. We have committed ourselves to ensuring smart growth that gives rise to walkability and vibrancy that are key elements of our successful city,” Johnson said.
In terms of smart growth, Johnson said the aim is to capitalize on the city’s assets and make Fayetteville a model city for progressive development.
“We want to be intentional with development policies that will stimulate pride in our city. This begins with welcoming developers who want to be long-term and integral partners in our community,” he said. “We want to effectively guide our city through a period of progressive and sustainable, managed growth. We are seeking to ensure that the children of tomorrow will not ask about what we said, but care more about what we did.”
Johnson also looked back at wide-ranging accomplishments last year.
“Throughout 2018, we maintained an efficient and effective government, first by listening to you, the citizens of the City of Fayetteville,” said Johnson. “We listened to you when you showed up to town hall meetings. We listened to you when you made comments at city council and planning meetings. We listened to you when you called, emailed, completed a survey, posted a comment on social media or maybe even dropped by our offices for a visit. We listened to you, and on behalf of the city, I can’t thank you enough for the invaluable feedback and comments we have received over the past year.”
Johnson said Fayetteville is growing, and as it grows, “We will need open dialogue and communication so that every voice is heard and every possible need is met. We work for you. That’s why we’re here.”
Johnson said the city improved government efficiency in 2018 by launching new staff management and leadership training, by enhancing the cross-training program and by realigning salaries and benefits to a competitive level that will help Fayetteville attract and retain talented professionals to run city operations on a day-to-day basis. Continued improvement in customer service in all areas of city operations also occurred in 2018, he said.
As 2018 came to a close, Johnson said Fayetteville had improved neighborhood and police relations by expanding the work of the relatively new Police C.A.R.E. (Community Activity, Resource and Education), and explained that community policing efforts were enhanced tremendously in 2018 through efforts such as dozens of public events, school visits and Neighborhood Watch meetings.
“We improved neighborhoods by stepping up our social media and website engagement. We improved neighborhoods by hosting town hall meetings, conducting surveys and holding other forums to hear directly from the residents of neighborhoods about how we can improve the quality of life throughout our community,” said Johnson.
Commenting on the request of citizens to receive online engagement, Johnson said, “As we have been listening to the people, we have heard them say they want to engage more with their city online, and we are delivering on our promise to make that happen. This again comes down to delivering good customer service, or in our case, good constituent service.”
Johnson noted that the State of the City address, for the first time, was being broadcast on Facebook Live.
Citing other accomplishments in 2018, Johnson said the city added 12 new firefighter positions and five new police officer positions to the budget, and filled those positions, in order to ensure citizens’ safety and peace of mind.
By the close of 2018, the city invested in transportation by repaving 2.4 miles of sorely-neglected residential streets, Johnson added.
The city is also reaching out to the community for input in developing a Master Path Plan that will connect neighborhoods and help bring a new vibrancy to living, working and playing in our city, Johnson said, adding that the city also hired an engineering firm to study the roadway traffic flow to help determine future ways to alleviate congestion.
Referencing other efforts in 2018, Johnson noted the groundbreaking for the expansion of Georgia Military College and the ongoing support for the Pinewood Forest mixed-use development on Veterans Parkway. Other projects either underway or newly completed include the Heartis Senior Living Center, the Hearthside senior development near downtown on Ga. Highway 54 West and the Cool Runnings headquarters on Ga. Highway 85 North.