Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson touts ‘a year of great progress’

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Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson delivers his 2020 State of the City address to City Council. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Fayetteville Mayor Ed Johnson delivers his 2020 State of the City address to City Council. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Reports in State of City address, ‘Your City Council is unified in our desire to be forward-thinking and progressive-minded’ — 

Mayor Ed Johnson at the Feb. 20 meeting of the Fayetteville City Council gave the 2020 State of the City address. Johnson during the annual address reviewed the numerous accomplishments that occurred in 2019, and looked ahead to 2020, where the evolution of Fayetteville as a destination continues to unfold.

The State of the City address in its entirety follows below:

“Good evening, citizens of Fayetteville, Georgia.

It is indeed an honor and a privilege to give this, my fourth State of the City address as mayor of our wonderful city.

On behalf of the City Council and our great city staff, it is a great honor to report that the state of Fayetteville is excellent.

Before giving you a perspective of this past year’s accomplishments and a look ahead on what we hope to accomplish in 2020, I want to thank former council members Harlan Shirley and Kathaleen Brewer for their outstanding contribution to our city’s leadership team for the past four years. We value your contributions to this city’s growth and progress.

I would also like to welcome new council members Joe Clark and Darryl Langford with their positive energy and support of the strategic plan that was developed with citizen input a few years ago.

They have both shown a commitment to a cohesive and cooperative working relationship with the city staff and current council members, which I believe is a great foundation for getting this accomplished for the citizens of Fayetteville.

Again, let me reiterate that the state of our great city is excellent.

This is based upon the many projects that are currently under development, especially our new City Hall and City Center Park complex that we feel will engender even greater pride for our staff and citizens to have a facility that they can be very proud of, and that we feel will be a destination place for many activities for all Fayetteville citizens.

In January of 2019, community engagement was the unofficial theme as we began the New Year.

The city conducted and wrapped up both its National Citizen Survey and Master Path Plan projects, which were based on input from hundreds of Fayetteville residents.

These documents continue to inform our city staff and your city leaders about what you, the citizen, thought were priorities as we seek to move the city forward in a more positive direction.

Our Technology and Communications departments launched Facebook LIVE streaming of all Fayetteville City Council meetings to ensure citizens had access to meetings and events that seek to keep you informed.

The city enhanced its communications/marketing approach with the monthly news magazine being launched both as an in-print and online publication with another opportunity to inform citizens of what was happening in our city.

We have completed more than five miles of city roadway repaving projects, which is being funded primarily by state grants and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) dollars that you approved in 2016, which has allowed us to get many needed projects accomplished or initiated.

We intend to continue resurfacing city streets based upon prioritization and available funding. Remember, SPLOST funding helps us meet the need to keep our streets in good condition.

The City Council approved the Downtown Entertainment District for Main Street Fayetteville, which we hope will further influence many family and fun activities to make our downtown a “destination place.”

We introduced our first-ever Friday Night LIVE event and partnered with the Fayetteville First United Methodist Church to host another well-attended Easterpalooza festival.

During the Christmas holiday season, we held the Annual Main Street Christmas Parade and Fayetteville’s annual Christmas on Main Street event. This year’s event was the city’s largest parade, and what was one of the most festive tree lighting ceremonies in the history of the event.

The Ridge Nature Area, that is managed by Southern Conservation Trust completed and officially opened the park’s public restroom facility and inaugurated the annual Run the Ridge 5K, making the Ridge Nature Trail a viable outside venue for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Lane Brown Gazebo, located on the downtown square across from the Historic Courthouse, was completely re-built making it more accessible and usable for citizen activities.

We continue having Main Street’s Taste of Fayette, and our amphitheater’s Summer Concert series along with many other activities, to develop our downtown as a place for synergy, fun and community enjoyment.

There was a groundbreaking on the Whitewater Creek Water Pollution Control Plant that will allow a more effective and efficient water management and treatment which will improve the infrastructure for many years.

The City Council approved the much-anticipated Master Path Plan that outlines future sidewalk and multi-use path connectivity possibilities throughout Fayetteville.

Again, in October of 2019, we celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Fayetteville City Hall and City Center Park to be built on 10 acres of land along West Stonewall Avenue in the downtown district.

I am proud to report that our fiscal management and stewardship of tax payers’ funds and revenue is excellent.

The City of Fayetteville’s Finance Department earned its 23rd consecutive CAFR award this past year. This is indicative of a city that has sound fiscal management practices and detail accounting. The city formed its own Public Facilities Authority and based upon our credit rating of AA+, the city is now able to fund many of the planned projects.

Yes, in 2019 the council voted to retain the millage rate at 5.4 mills, which technically was a tax increase over 2018, but it was necessary to maintain our rainy-day fund which allows for funding of unexpected contingencies.

We have made every effort to be fiscally conservative while taking advantage of a strong national economy to build and improve our city’s infrastructure and customer services.

As you can see, the City of Fayetteville enjoyed a year of great progress in 2019, celebrating several milestones along the way.

Now, your city leaders are focusing on and preparing for what will become a very active and productive 2020 and early 2021.

Two of the most significant milestones we anticipate in 2020 will be the completion of the Whitewater Creek Water Pollution Control Plant Upgrade in August and the new City Hall and City Center Park in the Summer of 2021.

As part of the new City Hall and City Center Park project, which is located in downtown Fayetteville along West Stonewall Avenue, the city is also looking forward to repurposing the old Fayette County High School gymnasium and the old bus barn that are located on the eastern edge of the property.

We believe that through public-private partnerships, we will develop the park spaces and the venues that will be a pleasant place for families and citizens to come and enjoy themselves. We invite you to go to the City’s website and see the plans for what we believe will be great amenities.

Fayetteville is growing at a steady pace, but this council and staff are being intentional and attentive to ensuring that our growth is effectively managed.

The mixed-use development on the west side of the city currently known as Pinewood Forest continues to grow and develop into a vibrant community for all citizens, and we believe it will complement the forward progress and renovation of downtown Fayetteville and the surrounding communities.

We have worked diligently and with great cooperation from Walton Communities and Meridian on the Square apartment developers to ensure we create high-quality apartments with a mix of retail uses in the downtown area to ensure the viability of existing businesses, while at the same time enhancing the vibrancy of our downtown.

We are working, without wavering, to ensure developers who want to operate and build in Fayetteville will meet the highest quality standards that cater to a variety of housing options for our residents.

We are working synergistically with our other stakeholders to include the Fayette County Board of Education, Fayette Piedmont Hospital, the Fayette County Development Authority and the Fayette Chamber of Commerce to address and hopefully satisfy the need for skilled labor and quality housing for young professionals that will enhance the city’s future.

We’re excited about 2020 and 2021, but let there be no doubt that this City Council and staff will continue to make public safety our number one priority.

We have hired and continue to seek high quality and community-oriented personnel for our Police Department and our Fire Department.

All statistics and available data reflect that Fayetteville is among the top safest cities in the nation.

We are not immune from the rampant and insidious crime that is occurring in our nation, but our Public Safety Departments are being proactive and vigilant so as to minimize the impact of crime and other unfortunate incidents such as fire and traffic accidents.

We have continued to attract committed and dedicated personnel in both departments such that we are fully staffed and seeking to hire and equip more highly competent personnel with competitive salary levels.

We are authentically seeking to create a culture and climate of visionary leadership and highly dedicated staff.

We will continue to cultivate a climate and culture for professional staffing in all city departments, utilizing technology and best business practices to ensure high-quality customer service.

We are working diligently to ensure balanced and responsible growth to provide a high quality of life for all Fayetteville citizens.

We seek to develop and establish effective public policies and strategies that will keep Fayetteville on a positive growth trajectory.

We will work with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Fayette County to address the concern of increased traffic and develop alternative transportation methodologies and traffic management techniques that will minimize transportation problems.

We are developing a Highway 85 retail corridor study and a plan to investigate opportunities to redevelop and revitalize older shopping plazas and address the growing concerns about the future of the Fayetteville Pavilion.

Your City Council is unified in our desire to be forward-thinking and progressive-minded as we work with our exceptional city staff to make Fayetteville a great place to live, work and play.

We invite and encourage citizens to stay informed and be involved as we seek to make Fayetteville a City “you can be proud to call home.”

As always, it is the City Council and the city staff’s desire for God to bless Fayetteville and may God bless America.”

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