State of Tyrone: ‘Solid and future is bright’

Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial. File photo.
Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial. File photo.

Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Tyrone Town Council gave the annual State of the Town address. Using a variety of data points, Dial made the case for “who Tyrone is,” and followed up with “who we want to be” and “where we want to go.”

Citing the ongoing efforts such as working on issues related to traffic flow and traffic safety, constructing the new municipal complex, installing sewer downtown and working to have Tyrone Elementary School re-opened, Dial said the state of the town is solid and the future is bright.

The address in its entirety is provided below:

“On behalf of Council, I want to start by thanking the people of Tyrone for entrusting us with the leadership of this Town. We’re grateful for the continued opportunity and we recognize the importance of our responsibilities.

“In this time of growth, prosperity, and transition, the impact of our decisions is likely more important than any time in our history.

“Our economy is thriving, for which we’re certainly grateful, but a strong economy brings with it a set of challenges that we need to consider. For example, we receive far more inquiries for development than we have in the past.

“While respecting the rights of property owners, it’s our job to determine the collective desires for our future, and incumbent upon us to ensure that inevitable growth is managed properly.

“Before we look into 2020, I thought it would be a good idea to consider just what Tyrone is.  There are going to be differing opinions on what we want to be, but let’s first allow the facts to establish who we are.

“Our population is approximately 7,300 and modestly increasing. You may be surprised to hear that we have 535 businesses in Tyrone representing over 5,500 employees.

“Our median household income is approaching $100,000 and our median home value $275,000. By comparison, the county as a whole is closer to $80,000 and the low to mid $200,000s.

“We are unique in that we are 20 minutes from a major airport, 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, and 5 minutes from a major international film studio.

“Despite being in this desirable location, unlike other cities we have hundreds of acres of undeveloped land, and it’s catching the eyes of investors.

“One point of note that we share with our county is that we currently have the fastest growing aging population in the 20-county region and at the current rate of growth, almost one third of our citizens will be 65 or older by the year 2040.

“We understand that we need to govern accordingly both in accommodating this sector of people and encouraging younger adults to make Tyrone their home.

“So, we’ve established who Tyrone is. Now let’s discuss who we want to be and where we want to go.

“Our first step in making these decisions was to hear from you. You communicated to us in no uncertain terms through our 2017 comprehensive plan that your primary areas of interest are downtown and the Ga. Highway 74 corridor.

“The future and integrity of the Hwy. 74 corridor is controlled by infrastructure, planning, zoning, traffic management, and private investment.

“In partnership with GDOT (Ga. Department of Transportation) and our neighbors, we are working to ensure that smart growth takes place and any adverse impact is minimal.

“GDOT plans to convert the majority of the intersections into R-cuts and J-turns which significantly improve safety and help traffic flow.

“For our part, we will focus on setbacks, natural buffers, and updated infrastructure. We are also establishing proper zoning that promotes desirable development.

“Specific standards are, and will continue to be applied to this stretch of highway for aesthetic and continuity purposes.

“We look forward to working with those who choose the Hwy. 74 corridor for their homes and businesses and commit ourselves to assisting them along the way.

“As for downtown, you overwhelmingly directed us to revitalize, improve, and invest so we’re doing just that. Downtown is our focus.

“You’ve noticed that we have begun the implementation of our years of planning and we’re well on our way to great changes. Our new municipal complex will be completed in late fall and it’s going to be beautiful.

“We’re confident that this town centerpiece will be something that everyone can be proud of.  Council and staff have done a great job of joining together to create a home high in quality and responsible in cost.

“Now let’s all pray for good weather and no surprises so we’re on schedule and under budget.

“We will also be exploring the creation of a Downtown Development Authority to bring in additional minds and sets of hands on the work we are doing. This would provide additional avenues of revenue through grants and other funding.

“We have to decide what to do with the current Town Hall, the current police department, and the old fire station.  We want input on these decisions.

“Another dire need for breathing life into downtown is sewer. We have restaurants that are being forced to use paper and plastic, and in some cases even cut back on their operating hours.

“Just in time, we will begin construction any day now on an expanded sewer system and these concerns will be no more.

“With sewer comes more good news. Though we don’t make the decision, I am increasingly confident that Tyrone Elementary will re-open in the Fall of 2021.

“We have entered into an agreement with the school system to provide sewer so at the very least, we have done our part.

“I ask each of you to encourage school board members to make Tyrone Elementary a priority.

“Tyrone will have waited almost ten long years to get the attention we deserve with our school.

“If we are right, the school, sewer and municipal complex projects translate into approximately $12 million worth of public investment in downtown alone.

We’re confident that this will prompt additional private investment which will result in significant revitalization just as you have called us to do.

“Also, in the category of “it never gets old,” Tyrone is again one of the safest cities in Georgia.  Our citizens and our police officers deserve our praise for this recognition.

“I say this every year, but it’s worth repeating. It is not an easy time to serve in law enforcement.  Men and women, you do your job anyway, and you do it admirably. On behalf of 7,300 people – thank you.

“In 2019, we took steps to significantly increase officer pay at no cost to our taxpayers.

“All of our employees deserve more recognition than I can provide tonight. We know you are faithful and hard-working and deserve a great deal of credit for making this town what it is.

“We are working on a new, more employee-friendly retirement policy that will allow our people to retire at a younger age and will be useful to us in recruiting and retaining talent.

“In short, the state of the town is solid and our future is bright.  In future decades, I believe we’ll look back on 2020 as a year of accomplishment and progress.

“Your elected officials and staff are committed to preserving our town’s character, putting people first, and guiding our great town toward excellence in every way,” Dial said.