A cost-sharing agreement on privately owned Stagecoach Road now being considered by Fayette School System —
The Peachtree City Council on April 7 grumbled about “double-taxation” but acquiesced to the need for access to the replacement middle school on the city’s eastern border. The city will pay $750,000 to put the asphalt topping on a roadbed prepared by contractors hired by the school system.
Three years ago, the Fayette County Board of Education voted to build a $46 million replacement for J.C. Booth Middle School on 37 acres bought from the Peachtree City United Methodist Church that was located on Peachtree City’s eastern border.
One big problem: They had not closed a deal on paving a privately owned one-lane dirt road that was one of only two roads that accessed the property.
The quaint tree-lined lane named Stagecoach Road remained a contentious issue for more than 2 years, as the Peachtree mayor and City Council adamantly opposed using city taxpayer money to improve a road the city didn’t own and had not been consulted about before the new school project was a done deal.
Despite construction delays, missed deadlines and a pandemic, the new school is nearing completion, with still only a neighborhood dead-end residential street — Carriage Lane — and the still-gravel-topped dirt road providing the only access to the site.
Meanwhile, the old Booth Middle School has continued to operate while being completely renovated to make way for two still-unnamed tenants to move in once middle school students move over to the new school.
The Citizen has filed an Open Records request with the school system for the lease agreements and financial data regarding the “old” Booth renovation project: Who are the tenants and how much money will the tenants pay the system for use of the renovated facilities.
The city has discussed a draft agreement with the school system that describes a cooperative approach to getting the road paved.
The basics: The school system — prohibited by law from paving a public road — will pay for the earth-moving and preparation work for widening and preparing Stagecoach Road for every step up to the actual asphalt topping. That includes paying for moving utilities and for curbing and gutters for the improved street.
When the widened road is ready, the city will come in with a contractor and pay up to $750,000 to put the city-standard topping on the road.
At completion, the newly paved road will meet city standards and will be accepted as an official city street.
For the first two years after paving, the school system agrees (in the draft) to pay for all upkeep on the road. After two years, the city will take over full responsibility for maintaining the road.
Additionally, the school system will reimburse the city for costs of all employees required “to direct traffic and pedestrian crossings that provide access to all schools within the municipal limits of the city.”
Council members Mike King and Frank Destadio both said they viewed the city’s agreeing to paving the road to the school as “double-taxation” in that city residents were having to pay for a road to access a school decided upon by the Board of Education that otherwise would not likely be a city expense.
“That ship has sailed,” lamented City Manager Jon Rorie. “A school is coming out of the ground [that will serve] our citizens. I don’t like a double tax [either]. But it’s time to get it done.”
Still to come: improvements to the intersection of Ga. Highway 54 and Carriage Lane/Walt Banks Road to handle the increased traffic generated by the new middle school.