School board in a traffic jam, city tries to help … a little

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Peachtree City Councilman Kevin Madden makes a point during the April 1 council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.
Peachtree City Councilman Kevin Madden makes a point during the April 1 council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.

NEWS ANALYSIS — There’s this $45 million middle school going up out in the eastern sticks of Peachtree City, and it already has a traffic problem.

Here’s the problem: Nobody can figure out a good way to get lots and lots of buses and cars and students and teachers into — and later, out of — the new school, due for completion in December of this year.

You might ask: Why didn’t somebody think of this traffic problem before buying the property behind the Peachtree City United Methodist Church — currently reachable only via a privately owned dirt road and a two-lane neighborhood street — and then building a multi-million dollar facility using mostly money raised by a local option sales tax?

Good question, no public answers, at least from the Fayette County Board of Education, the official author of this project.

Ask Peachtree City Councilman Kevin Madden what he thinks about the intended replacement for J.C. Booth Middle School. No need because he spelled it out at the April 1 council meeting.

“This is a train wreck of traffic waiting to happen,” Madden said. “[Stagecoach Road] is a gravel road. Unless the Board of Education intends to pave it, I don’t see how [the school] is viable. This was not the right place to build a school.”

<b>Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch at the April 1 City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.</b>
Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch at the April 1 City Council meeting. Photo/Cal Beverly.

Mayor Vanessa Fleisch jumped in to squelch public criticism of another elected body, but councilmen Mike King talked about “making lemonade” out of a pile of lemons, and Phil Prebor suggested the school board talk with the Methodists about using their parking lot as a holding lane for backed up vehicles trying to get to the new school.

Traffic studies and the Ga. Department of Transportation predicted significant twice a day traffic backups for Ga. Highway 54, Robinson Road and Carriage Lane.

The school system is scrambling to get Peachtree City to do something, but the city is limited by both budget and willingness to spend city tax dollars to pull the school board — with a budget five times larger than the city’s — out of a hole the board dug themselves into.

The city especially is unexcited about spending millions of scarce city paving dollars to improve a private dirt road with right-of-way ownership problems, especially since nobody asked them before making the decision whether the eastern city limit school site was a good idea.

The council said it was willing to spend several thousand dollars to buy vertical pipe-like bollards to mark off right turn lanes and no-left-turn intersections on Robinson Road within city-owned rights of way. But that’s it.

“It’s a critical intersection [issue], and we need to make some forward progress,” said City Manager Jon Rorie.

Stay tuned. Meantime, here’s a school politics quiz: Whose name do you think the new school will carry? An inquiring public waits to learn.

<b>The new middle school site is the brown area in the lower right. Graphic/Peachtree City Council.</b>
The new middle school site is the brown area in the lower right. Graphic/Peachtree City Council.

37 COMMENTS

  1. The same old song and dance from citizens. I’ve lived through this garbage in numerous locales and I went along with the crowd and got upset once. I then realized the poutrage was just self-induced drama to spice up their boring lives. This whole dust-up is ridiculous. I can agree that the location for this school is not ideal, but it certainly isn’t the end of the world. If you want to argue the need for a new school – we can do that in another thread. This is about the supposed traffic “nightmare” that will entangle all PTC residents 24/7, 365 days a year. Oh wait… You see, people are flipping out about minor inconveniences during the school year, five days a week, mainly in the afternoon for a 30 minute window. Lots of whining going on about that. This is how it’s going to go down. First, the school board knew exactly what they were doing. Build the school first and force PTC to do something about the traffic. It isn’t rocket science to realize that minor traffic delays would throw the citizens into a tizzy. PTC will provide some assistance and it’s not going to break the bank. I mean, we’re all paying for it anyway. The school will move and hire more traffic managers and crossing guards and they will efficiently move traffic just as well as they currently do at McIntosh. A plan will be put into place to coordinate dismissal times at the new school and McIntosh. The traffic lights at 54 and Walt Banks/Carriage Lane and 54 and Robinson will be adjusted and coordinated for traffic flow and PTC will provide minor traffic markings around the area. The school board bought at least one property on Carriage Lane, so most likely, that will be in the in and out. Why? Because it’s a paved rode and it dumps into a light at 54. The board will probably have to have someone directing traffic at that location. I deal with McIntosh traffic in the afternoons and my delay is around 5 minutes on Walt Banks. The crossing guards do an excellent job. 54 isn’t bad at all and a heck of a lot better than the 74/54 intersection. People are flipping out because it gives them something to do. This will happen. It isn’t going away and people will get along just fine.

    • Stuart Maxwell, your lack of knowledge is shown. The school board does not hire crossing guards, Peachtree City does. It also supplies police patrols and resource officers. There is nothing minor about the congestion and issues created by the school.

      • Dawn Haddocks, it doesn’t really matter which agency pays for traffic management, because we all pay the agencies that employ the service. Tomayto – tomahto. And yes, Dawn, the traffic and issues created by the school will be manageable. You can whine and complain about it all you want, but you have absolutely no sway in the matter. If it bothers you so much, stay out of that end of town from 3:45-4:15.

    • The discussion has been had. FCBOE gleefully ignored the concerns of citizens, taxpayers, parents, and educators alike.

      – The “capacity” problem in Fayette County Schools doesn’t exist. The overflow projected at JC Booth is at most a few dozen students over 10 years, and can be very easily solved by redistricting where neighboring middle schools are well under capacity and projected to remain so.
      – The traffic problem was raised at the time before the school board as well as the city council, and they gleefully ignored it and moved forward with a foregone conclusion.

  2. When I contacted the FCBOE about this traffic problem months ago they said they build schools, and they have nothing to do with roads.
    It is obvious that the former FCBOE Superintendent Joseph Barrow knew about the traffic problem before he signed off to this $45,000,000 middle school. Then he retired soon after to leave this problem with the next administration.
    The FCBOE traffic study suggested a GDOT traffic study be done BEFORE moving forward.
    I feel the GDOT should complete their traffic study and get the funds to fix the problem from FCBOE.
    The citizens of PTC should not be paying for the FCBOE’s bad decisions.

    • If you remember I had said before the BOE cannot touch roads. Nor can they contribute to doing anything to roads. Nor can they expect the city to bail them out. If I can find this in state law they can to. But as I pointed out below the BOE has a long history of poor planning on trying to dump on other governments around them.

      This is another fiasco of building a school that is a failure from the beginning.

  3. I’ll add that I have not talked to a single Peachtree City resident that thought this location for a school was a good idea. They want from a school location off a 4 lane road and great golf cart access to one isolated off of a dirt road on the outskirts of town. D, JD.

  4. Back when I was mayor MacIntosh had a golf cart issue they wanted me to fix. I told them it was their problem and they needed to stop students from illegal parking on the streets and private property. They said they could do nothing so I said I would and I instructed the police to arrest violating students and impound golf carts. The BOE suddenly found room for golf car parking.

    Another time they wanted to move students from in city schools to places such as Tyrone. I protested on behalf of the parents and pointed out how much more costly such a move would be. Suddenly the BOE reconsidered.

    The BOE has a history of demanding Peachtree City resolve their problems.

    Also interesting is that your hearing nothing from the mayoral candidates who have declared to date as with other serious issues this Council has attempted.

    This is a BOE issue. I warned them Stagecoach Road would not work, That the BOE could not pave roads, install turn lanes, that GDOT would not side with them, that they could not force the city to do what they wanted and that the existing Booth could accommodate a larger school.

    Council needs to stay out of this issue.

    • Mr. Haddix – you’re not doing yourself any favors by constantly proclaiming how “I did this” and “I would’ve done that” and “I did things right” etc. I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, blah blah blah. We’re all grateful for your service to our community, but please stop breaking your arm by patting yourself on the back. It’s not endearing and not doing you any favors. Instead of trying to get credit and make yourself look good, please let’s just focus on the problem and the correct solution.

      PS…..there’s no “a” in McIntosh unless you’re talking about the Apple predecessor.

  5. Follow the 45 million. Who made money off the sale of property and construction of this unnecessary building. Why wasn’t a traffic study, the private road,and right of way issues considered BEFORE money was spent?

      • C’mon people, Internet isn’t hard. You can go to the Fayette County Tax website and look this up. Parcel 0718 105 was sold to the FCBOE on 3/7/2019 by Peachtree City United Methodist Church. No real scandal there – they have a lot more property than they need, and this was a windfall for the congregation who does a lot of good work in this community.

        Also, it doesn’t take a property study to figure out that this was an amazingly bad place to locate a new school.

  6. It is interesting that whenever the school board has changed school district boundaries that the response to complaints from Peachtree City residents has always been “These are county schools, not Peachtree City schools.” But now the school board is trying to force Peachtree City to spend city funds to solve a traffic problem for one of those “county schools”.

    The city should not budge on this. This situation is entirely of the school board’s making. It is their problem to solve.

  7. This is an example of horrible planning by FCBOE and the city. Throw in the fact that some parents won’t let their “Snowflakes” ride the bus and fill the need to chauffeur middle school kids to school.

  8. Ah yes, the school that we all voted NO on and to use funds to revitalize booth. But no, they didn’t listen to the community and decided to go ahead and jam a school in without any logistics whatsoever. What a nightmare.

  9. To the Mayor and Council – if you’re wise you will not spend a PENNY to pave Stagecoach or to build roads to this school. This is the school board’s problem now and to spend our tax money on a county issue will ensure that all of you are removed from your posts at your next available ballot box opportunity. The county school system is flush with money and frivolous with it. Let them dig themselves out of this hole. This school was slammed down our throats and rushed into being with no prudence or careful planning……much like the elementary school that was built and never used. It’s time to reign in our school board once and for all.

    • Absolutely. Let’s add
      – the school budget has gone up like crazy while attendance has dropped.
      – Property taxes – both the millage rate and as a result of increasing assed values has gone up
      – Not a single high school in Fayette county offers and shop/tecnical skills and assumes that all kids will go to college (I can add that an engineer that has never had any g=hands on mechanical experience is sorely lacking).
      – The government schools that we are funding to indoctrinate our kids are failing to teach the wisdom of the American Constitution, but are happy to teach that gender is an actual choice rather than simply male or female.

    • Actually, it’s not. They’ve done far worse. Consider Rivers Elementary School, built in the 2010’s for some $18M only to sit empty until being sold to Pinewood Studios for $5M in 2013. There were a number of other schools they built around that time expecting massive growth that never happened.

      • As usual, you embellish the truth to whet the appetite of the rubes. $10 million was spent for land and building – not $18. Still a sizable loss, but not as large as you make it out to be.