OPINION — Can we begin the new year in Fayette County with a clean slate so we can fully embrace the blessings that could truly come our way?
Would it be too much to ask that we complete some of the outstanding issues before the government’s attention is distracted once again? Many of the issues are so modest that we are left speculating why they have been left incomplete.
Big bang for the cost-effective efforts
Dear city council members of Peachtree City, these are the gifts that will keep on giving.
1. Reject the Georgia Department of Transportation’s substandard displaced left turn project at the intersection of Highways 74 and 54. This is a “budget-constrained” project introduced by GDOT as an attempt to give lip service to local citizens complaining about government inaction on a serious matter.
I personally challenged the GDOT engineer several years ago, saying the design will do little to resolve the traffic congestion, and he could not refute the point, replying there was a limited amount of money remaining in a particular fund that constrained the design. Why would we allow this?
Mayor Kim Learnard is literally going to fold on this incredibly vital issue. The proposed intersection project does almost nothing to resolve the east-west traffic congestion. Put a reliable, long-term solution on the table!
2. Respect the constituents and abolish the draconian restrictions on the taxpayer’s ability to speak in public meetings. It’s easy and I have personally done it for meetings of the city council and the county board of commissioners. Try being public servants!
3. Stagger employee hours and return the citizen taxpayers’ access to their multi-million-dollar library facility. Why can’t someone at City Hall figure out this is an easy task and of great value to the local community?
4. Fix Drake Field. The concept of the past improvements at Drake Field was delightful, but implementation was so-so. After a rain, the field becomes a swamp for days.
Just like creating better drainage on sports fields, there are some easy solutions. Unfortunately, the sidewalks are too narrow and currently rise above the abutting turf, causing people approaching one another to have to step off the sidewalk into the wet muck. Likewise, people walking the loop for exercise are forced to walk in the parking lot to get to the other side, exceptionally dangerous.
5. Reinstate the restrooms at Battery Way Park as a priority in the upcoming SPLOST referendum. For decades, people have had to suffer with using smelly porta-potties on hot days at the park. Walkers and cart riders, especially parents with children and senior citizens, would appreciate the ability to relieve themselves while enjoying the lake views and cart path infrastructure.
6. Years ago, GDOT put up sound barrier walls along Ga. Highway 74. The city got permission and a grant to plant leafy vines up the walls to get rid of the nasty concrete industrial look and bring the area back into our traditional landscaped greenspace appearance.
My understanding is two different vines were used and one would not adhere to the concrete. We currently have some sections that look nice with green plant material covering the walls and the rest are nasty concrete. As important as public aesthetics have been to our city, why can’t the city government finish this project? The cost is negligible, and the benefit is considerable.
7. Why have the lights on the adult softball field not been replaced? There is no longer an adult softball program because our adults are no longer allowed to play on the field. Someone from the city please tell us why.
8. Give the taxpaying citizens their voice back on city issues by reinstating the citizen volunteer recreation commission and giving the authority back to the citizen volunteer planning commission. Why did the city government think it was a good idea to eliminate citizen participation in local government?
9. Revise the changes to the city’s comprehensive plan that will allow for more apartment complexes throughout the city back to where it was previously.
2 lame ducks, 2 with common sense and a self-centered mayor
Based on past experience, do not expect Councilmen Mike King or Phil Prebor to take any interest in correcting past wrongs. They were part of the Fleisch administration’s march to urbanization, and most likely will not change their tune. Both are gone at the end of 2023.
Councilmen Frank Destadio and Clint Holland appear poised to take a stand for traditional, less urban development patterns. Here is hoping that neither of them gets swooped up in the silliness of their colleagues.
Mayor Learnard seems to be gung-ho for anything that interests her personally and a lot less caring about the rest of it. I am not certain she has the backbone to tackle the intersection at highways 74 and 54 and deal with GDOT. Hence, she just moves away from it.
Being a leader is not sneaking project approvals through for your campaign contributors without any type of public disclosure. Likewise, continuing her predecessor’s theme of we are going to urbanize the city whether the citizens like it or not will cause her to lose support from everyone but the real estate developers.
The mayor has three years to show us that she can listen to the constituents and act accordingly. I truly hope for the city’s sake that she does come around.
Take a stand and make your voice heard in 2023. Email your thoughts to the mayor and council at email@example.com.
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]