Most of us, maybe all of us, moved to Peachtree City for its lifestyle. Several self-contained “villages” where you feel comfortable, a beautiful planned community. Wow, our own little Mayberry near Atlanta, at least in theory.
However, for some unknown reason, that’s not what some of our elected officials want, regardless of the taxpayers who elected them.
The mayor and City Council applied for and obtained a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to complete a so-called “Livable Centers Initiative” for our city.
This effort updates a 2001 initiative that did not result in much improvement, unless you consider the mess along Ga. Highway 54 near Walmart where we have stores and restaurants clogging up the road an improvement.
Actually, the 2001 initiative was also to construct stores on the other side of Hwy. 54 as well, but that never was approved. Thank goodness, as all that would have added even more cars to this already overburdened traffic area.
This new initiative focuses on again, you guessed it, the heavily congested Hwy. 54/74 intersection, down to and including the area around the City Hall, Drake Field and Lake Peachtree. It also includes the City Tennis Center, West Park shopping area and Huddleston Road. All-in-all, over 800 acres.
City leadership certainly could have selected several other areas to build up that would have been much more beneficial to the citizens and the city. But no, this is what they selected.
Among other “improvements,” the study contractor suggested was to add townhomes along the area in front of Drake Field, and multi-use housing/shopping where we now have the Willow Bend Shopping Mall near City Hall.
Boy, wouldn’t these be helpful for the congestion along Hwy. 54? Both of these will only add additional traffic to Hwy. 54, increasing cars in an already horribly congested area, the worst in the county by far.
Several other options the study contractor is reviewing include removing the city’s Tennis Center and adding lower income housing. That will also certainly improve traffic along the Hwy. 54/74 corridor, as well as helping our tax rolls. Sure, it will.
And another idea is this same housing and or multi-use commercial/housing along Huddleston Road.
Now to be honest, some of these options include proposing adding additional roads to reduce the additional traffic that will certainly come, but we all know what will come first, don’t we? And, we heard those promises before.
Let’s just help future developers (who also might just happen to be a big campaign contributors) to build what they want. We all know that developers are always honest folks who follow through on their promises, right?
Once the study gets the city ordinances changed, the developers will no doubt manage to get the future leadership to allow them to build whatever they can.
The city must do an accurate polling of residents to find out their true feelings on this matter. But so far they have not.
Instead, they have a Study contractor randomly asking people to fill out forms. This is unacceptable and inaccurate but serves the purposes of those politicians and their contributors who want more development along Hwy. 54. And they claim this will reduce flow-through traffic.
You don’t need to have a master’s degree in Urban Planning or Traffic Control to know this will not work; it will increase congestion substantially.
So, I am writing this article to tell all PTC citizens to wake up and do the following things:
1. Go online to www.peachtreecitylci.com to complete the survey so you can state your opinion on these options.
2. Contact your City Councilperson and the Mayor expressing your opinion that there is no need for an expanded city center on and near Hwy. 54 that will increase already unbearable traffic and that a scientifically accurate poll needs to be done before proceeding.
If you don’t, regardless of the desires of PTC citizens, the ARC-funded study team will complete their work and incorrectly, inaccurately recommend one or several of these options to your elected officials, who will no doubt be told the majority of the citizens of PTC voted for the option they recommended.
If you have difficulty using the computer, ask a friend, a grandchild or anyone who can take a few minutes to assist you.
The vast majority of PTC citizens like PTC the way it is, with the big exception of the traffic situation, caused by past developers and an overly accommodating city government.
We do not need the Atlanta Regional Commission to come down here to change our “village concept” city into a Buckhead, what they — not us — believe it should look like.
If you do not tell your elected representatives what you like (the village concept) and what you don’t like (adding even more traffic onto Hwy. 54), you will regret it sooner rather than later.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Bernard is a former member of the Peachtree City Planning Commission.]