Fayetteville Post 2 candidates talk about traffic, city center at forum

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Candidates at the Oct. 7 forum for the Post 2 seat on the Fayetteville City Council included, from left, incumbent Kathaleen Brewer, Joe Clark, Oyin Mitchell and Kevin Pratt. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Candidates at the Oct. 7 forum for the Post 2 seat on the Fayetteville City Council included, from left, incumbent Kathaleen Brewer, Joe Clark, Oyin Mitchell and Kevin Pratt. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The Fayette County Library in Fayetteville on Oct. 7 was the setting for a forum that gave the public a look at the four candidates vying for the Post 2 seat on the Fayetteville City Council. The candidates at the forum were Joe Clark, Oyin Mitchell, Kevin Pratt and incumbent Kathaleen Brewer.

One of the questions posed to the candidates asked what they would tell a corporate executive that would make the company want to locate in Fayetteville.

Up first, Brewer said she would cite the advantage of having infrastructure in place, along with incentives that include TAD (tax allocation district) properties already approved for re-development.

For the reader, TAD properties are currently in place, and are located largely along Ga. Highway 85 North.

Brewer also noted that Fayetteville is in competition with other cities for corporate investment dollars, adding that companies look at issues such as conflict on a City Council before making a final relocation decision.

Clark in his response said he would accentuate the great school system and its high-level offerings as a way to both attract and maintain a corporate presence in the city. Clark added that he would show that the city has a motivated workforce.

Mitchell responded to the question, saying the city has great business partnerships that can be expanded, so she would focus on the city’s workforce.

Pratt said he would promote the city by centering on its 15-minute drive from the airport, along with Fayetteville’s existing assets, the availability of untapped land and a great school system.

Another question noted that traffic will be an increasing problem given that state highways run through the city. Candidates were asked how traffic might be mitigated.

Clark suggested that some of the traffic in the downtown area could be mitigated by the city’s plan to make downtown a walkable area. He also noted that the main traffic thoroughfares are state highways owned and controlled by the Ga. Department of Transportation.

Mitchell responded, saying more information is needed to address the issue, and that a traffic study would help in provide an answer for mitigating traffic.

Pratt agreed, deferring to the idea of a traffic study and suggesting that targeted development would be a part of the answer for mitigating traffic.

Brewer in her response noted that traffic on the two highest-volume roadways, Ga. highways 54 and 85 is due primarily to commuters passing through the city, adding that approximately 36,000 vehicles pass through downtown each day. Along with the need for a grid system for new development with two ways in and out, Brewer said a bypass was needed for the downtown area, and perhaps altering the traffic flow of Ga. Highway 92.

Another question asked about creating a city center for families and entertainment.

Responding first, Brewer said the city center is in process of being built.

Clark agreed, saying developing the city center is in the (comprehensive) plan. He also noted the need for activities for young adults who do not like to drive for those activities.

Mitchell called for a study to determine the things that attract people to the downtown area.

Pratt in his comments noted that the downtown plan is underway, adding that the emerging Pinewood Forest development is also an area which could provide creative options.

For the benefit of the reader, it should be said that the city engaged in a lengthy public process that led to the development of the 2017-2037 Fayetteville Comprehensive Plan. That process included numerous town hall meetings and an online survey that saw more than 600 residents participating. Put in perspective, the sheer mass of people participating dwarfed that of cities of much larger size.

Additionally, a main focus of the plan was the downtown area, where residents wanted a walkable city center with expanded shopping and entertainment options, along with higher density residential.

Brewer previously told The Citizen why she is running for re-election.

“I have been on City Council for the last four years and brought a creative thinker’s view point to the table, as well a woman’s perspective. I believe the timing of my term was perfect due to all the visionary work that occurred and the fact I’m an artist capable of rendering ideas on paper,” Brewer said. “Because of this, I’d like to continue being a team player and to be there when all we’ve set in motion comes to fruition.”

Pratt recently provided The Citizen with the reason he is running for the Post 2 council seat. Pratt said his opposition to the rezoning for apartments on Ga. Highway 54 was his motivation to serve on the council. He also said he wants to attract and recruit companies to Fayetteville and that his stance is on family, safety and targeted development.

Asked previously why she is running for the Post 2 council seat, Mitchell said, “I want to be a part of the growth in the city as we move through change. I became knowledgeable about city government in Fayetteville shortly after moving here a couple of years ago and therefore became more engaged. My candidacy was an intentional decision raised by me and supported by my family. When the vacancy was announced, I wanted to be a part of the conversation and actively contribute to our city as it continues to grow fast and become more diverse.”

Clark in an earlier statement noted why he is running for the Post 2 seat on the council.

“I’m running for Post 2 on our City Council because I know we have reached a point in time where big decisions have to be made that will decide all of our futures. These decisions will shape the quality of life in Fayetteville. I’m focused on a better future for everyone. I’ve developed business plans, overseen Capital Improvement projects, created operating budgets, negotiated contracts and have been a public servant. The job of a City Council member is to be involved in all aspects of our city’s operation and be out in the community listening to our citizens. I will not be a councilman who just attends the two meetings a month. I enjoy working with people and creating solutions instead of problems. I’ll be ready to serve on my first day in office and I’ll remember that I work for our citizens,” Clark said.

Check www.thecitizen.com for additional questions and answers by the candidates.

The forum was sponsored by Fayette County NAACP, Fayette Democratic Committee, Fayette County Republican Party and Fayette Democratic Women.