Mayor Pickle Ball says Battery Way Park bathrooms can wait while local taxes skyrocket

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I am gearing up for writing on the upcoming city council race and fuming over the cold-hearted increases in our property tax bills. While I have been preparing, several people asked if I was going to write about “Mayor Pickle Ball?” I asked what that meant?

Look, you just cannot make this stuff up!

We have an important election only weeks away, a mayor under a cloud of an ethics quid pro quo allegation, a pot full of boiling city council controversy, and then there is Picklegate.

Yes, Mayor Kim Learnard did herself a personal favor and elevated her favorite recreational activity, pickleball, in the new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) hierarchical project list, and the Picklegate scandal is born.

Because there is not an infinite amount of one-cent sale tax dollars in the SPLOST for every proposed project in the city, the list must be stratified by priority into a funding tier system. Obviously, the higher priority tier gets funded and the lower tier projects may never come to fruition.

For some perspective, we are suffering from some of the worst inflation in 40 years, traffic backs up two miles in either direction at the major intersection, current city facilities and parks need maintenance, cart paths and roads need to be paved, we are hit by huge property tax increases, and the mayor puts all her effort into moving the building of new low priority pickleball courts from the lower tier up to the top tier list. Are you kidding?

The pickleball Mayor dug into the spreadsheets and moved priority projects downward so that she could elevate her personal favorite. Don’t you wish she had put that much effort into finding ways to build efficiency with city operations so we will not be burdened with a record tax increase?

Things are so bad now that the mayor and council felt compelled to hit us with a significant tax increase when we can least afford it and they are asking us to vote for tens of millions of dollars in additional sales taxes on those inflated groceries we buy so that we can make new pickleball courts a top priority because the mayor plays pickle ball.

It will only cost you $770,000 of your taxes (not a joke). Truthfully, city’s SPLOST project cost estimates have been so off the mark that the real cost is probably around $950,000.

She pulled the projects you wanted most

So, to be perfectly clear, the heavily used Battery Way Park on Lake Peachtree (tens of thousands going through the park annually) was supposed to get the long-awaited restrooms that people have been requesting for two decades.

Now, you and your children will just have to keep your legs crossed and turn blue as the mayor killed it specifically so she can get her pickleball courts. The anticipated and higher tier shoreline swim access project, with a water safety purpose, at Lake Peachtree was also pickledballed by the mayor.

The city cannot pay the bills now, hence the demand for record tax increases (see: https://thecitizen.com/2019/08/13/tax-increase-public-hearings-coming-to-a-governing-body-near-you/ ). Then how will the new pickleball courts be maintained? Will Mayor Learnard will maintain them? Nah! She will just raise your taxes again next year to take care of her pet project.

After all the recent controversy, you would have to believe that the council deception would stop, it’s not happening. Residents can play pickleball already at the Tennis Center, the local country clubs and at some local gyms.

Who defends us from the mayor and the two lame ducks?

The second-place finisher in the recent mayor’s race, Eric Imker, identified that Council Members Phil Prebor and Mike King have nothing to lose on voting for things they previously would not support. They are both out on term limits. (See Imker’s comments here: https://thecitizen.com/2022/09/16/imker-council-race-would-be-futile-but-peachtree-city-is-in-deep-trouble/ )

Please do your homework on the candidates running for Post 3 this November. Don’t select another Mike King or Phil Prebor. Demand that candidates for elected office tell you precisely where they stand on the local issues.

Here are the candidates and the political affiliation they listed on their forms: Phil Crane (Republican), Mark D. Gelhardt, Sr. (Blank Line), Kenneth Hamner (Non-Partisan), Clint Holland (Republican), and Kevin Madden (Non-Partisan).

Madden was recently defeated in a re-election bid for city council last November. He is a Democrat activist and most likely wrote “non-partisan” to disguise it. (For more on Madden’s voting record on the city council, see: https://thecitizen.com/2021/07/22/council-members-ernst-and-madden-get-thumbs-down-for-4-more-years/ )

No more fluffy responses on the issues from local candidates. We do not need to go back to the days when the real estate developer interests ran the city as a company town.

Let’s drill down on these candidates together and put the train back on the tracks.

Take five minutes and tell the mayor and city council members how you feel. The email address is council@peachtree-city.org.

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Commission.]

27 COMMENTS

  1. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States and not just one of the mayor’s leisure activities. Last weekend, around 700 pickleball players from around the Southeast came to Peachtree City for a nationally sanctioned tournament. They stayed in our hotels and ate at our restaurants. There is a demand for more courts in Peachtree City. Many of our residents drive to Griffin and Newnan that have covered, lighted courts. Pickleball is a game that is played by residents of all ages and is a great investment for the recreational SPLOST. It is unfair to accuse the mayor of just promoting her interest when the popularity of this sport is a national phenomenon. Anyone who wants more information can read just one of the many stories documenting this demand https://www.nbcnews.com/data-graphics/pickleball-fastest-growing-sport-pandemic-rcna24620

  2. People can go home to poop, meanwhile the birds are taking up the slack. Before bathrooms are installed along Battery Way they should eliminate or relocate the geese and other water fowl that deficate all over the place. As a new resident I have taken to swimming in the lake on a regular basis. Its very concerning trying to navigate through the birds and their feces as it washes into the lake. It should be a health concern for all those that frequent the area and particularly those that enter the water for recreation.

  3. Name calling isn’t mature. Mayor Pickleball? Also, get on a map app and learn just how far two miles is. Traffic doesn’t back up two miles at the 54/74 intersection. Two miles from the intersection is McIntosh High School. It doesn’t back up that far. It backs up to as far as Wisdom Road by Partner’s Pizza and the library.

    • Ha, how quickly you forget, we already have those things; significant crime, high taxes and an authoritarian agenda – courtesy of that other political party seated on this council. Sorry, but no thanks. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice …

    • Folks voted in Republicans across the board on council the last election and it took literally DAYS before the council & mayor were involved in a gigantic mess of ineptitude. Gretchen was the most Republican – and most despicable in her actions.

      Honestly – regardless of party we need people who have actual jobs to represent us. A full time job. Our entire town is represented by Retired people and its supposed to be a family community. It’s abundantly clear they can’t relate (or forgot about) what having a busy life actually entails.

      I’m not a fan of any of the council candidates but it would be nice to have some actual job + family representation on the council, lest we continue to push out families that need to get things done.

    • As long as you keep putting people in groups and dividing along group or party lines, and strictly voting for a person’s party and not their character, you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. You’re not better than the people who you claim vote for the other side blindly. I don’t care what political party you’re in – there’s just as many corrupt and reprehensible Republicans as there are Democrats. Look at a person’s record. Look at what they do…..forget about what they say – shifting winds can change a politician’s words in a heartbeat. We also need fewer politicians and more leaders in this town. Learnard’s connections make me question her motives, I don’t see her as strictly looking out for what’s best for the community. King and Prebor seem to not have much of a voice and just go along to get along. Destadio seems to be the voice of reason and prudence for now. Let’s hope we can elect more leaders who think openly, who are problem-solvers, who look out for what’s best for the community, and who stick to the original plan for the city and reject this new-age urbanism. Not a single person has moved here because we are planning to become the next Brookhaven with huge multi-use work/live/shop developments. Let’s not forget who we are – a unique and desirable community with majority single-family homes, with solid and steady property values, and with a community that keeps its quality of life high. God help us if we try to morph into something we aren’t. Then we’ve lost our soul and sold out to developers who only care about one thing – money in their pockets.

  4. Battery Park is a beautiful recreation area open to all residents, and should have had Restrooms built years ago. Also a designated area to allow a food truck which would pay a permit fee, to provide service for families as a convenience!
    Hopefully we elect a person for the open Council seat that has what it takes to keep PTC from becoming Atlanta lite!

    • Grandpa John, agreed! And put restrooms at Luther Glass, too. And unlock the restrooms at Riley Field 24/7. They’ll all eventually get vandalized like the ones at All Childrens’ Playground did about a year ago, but that’s the price of having decent services; most of the time they’ll be great and we’ll all appreciate having them, but sometimes there will be problems that will have to be fixed. I’ve used the restrooms at All Childrens many, many times and have appreciated how clean and maintained they are and thought why can’t we have these all over the city? Frank Destadio made putting restrooms in our parks part of his campaign. I hope he and council continue to work on it.

  5. Pickleball Terms we all need to know:
    Ball: the ball used in Pickleball is a plastic ball with holes or a whiffle ball
    Paddle: this is what you use to hit the Pickleball, don’t call it a racket!
    Boondoggle: waste money or time on unnecessary or questionable projects
    Floccinaucinihilipilification: the action or habit of estimating something as worthless
    Pickledome: The court where the championship match in a pickleball tournament is played, also known as Peachtree City