OPINION — 9 actions the Peachtree City Council needs to take

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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 council@peachtree-city.org.

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

15 COMMENTS

  1. I am very fortunate to be a multigenerational, “many-decaded,” resident who can recall when a more hirsuted Steve B was also a self-proclaimed centrist libertarian. I owe you a Mimi’s biscuit and promise my left-leaning (in Steve’s words “Commie Pinko Marxist) hands shan’t touch.

  2. Steve – well done. A couple additional thoughts:

    1) The Mayor sent an announcement yesterday (12/19) that the 54 / 74 project is a done deal. Even if it will improve some through travel in the intersection, I’m skeptical in overall improvement due to back ups from the gauntlet of traffic lights on 54 west to the city line that aren’t part of the project.

    Also announced: the cart path bridge along 54 on the north side of the lake will be expanded to handle 2 way travel. That’s a positive for those of us who routinely travel that section of the path.

    2) Let people speak freely. People – prepare and keep on point.

    3) Totally agree with the conditions at Drake Field. There have been some recent drainage improvement attempts, but mud is still a problem, and the narrow walkways and side drop-offs make it a challenge to pass, especially if a dog is walking as well.

    9) I came to PTC years ago as a refugee from the north suburbs. It is different here. We can’t control what happens around us, but we certainly must not make our community just like every other overcrowded suburb of Atlanta. Council should have gotten this message long ago.

  3. Thanks for the post, Steve.

    They’re back?! Noticed 15-20 NEWLY yellow spray painted markings on the cart path for MORE speed bumps to be installed?! From the front of Caola’s former home to the beginning of Lake PTC spillway to entrance into Drake Field to behind church towards 54 crossover bridge and everywhere in between.

    Didn’t the City Council decide that “There will be no more cart path speed bumps installed.” in their infamous July 12th closed-to-the-public executive session?

    What are the recent “take-backs” on this issue?

  4. Thanks Steve. You are 100% correct on all issues.
    There will be a change in the majority after next November’s election. Post #1 will be changing back to a true defender of the citizens. Mr. Destadio and Holland will have a 3rd who will be the true voice of Peachtree City citizens and will return our city’s values to what the citizens really want.

    Quick comment on your #2 about – allowing citizens time to speak at council meetings.
    I found it extremely disturbing watching the video of the council meeting on Dec 15th when the one, and only one, citizen was making a comment and had to end mid-sentence with her point. Draconian indeed.
    Council sits there twice a month and they can’t take the time to listen to their own citizens? I find it abhorently disgraceful. They seem to continue to be on that rush to beat the clock to see how fast they can get out of there. Shame on them. Things could have been different you know.

  5. The numbered proposals in the article are worth considering. My thoughts below are respectively number to correspond with the article.

    1. If the proposed GDOT Hwy 54/74 intersection will not improve the traffic issues, don’t spend the money on it.
    2. Mandate constituents who want to speak at City Council and Board of Cmmisioners’ take an oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. This will do two things. First, it will make the speaker think before speaking. Second, it will expose the to perjury if they do not speak the truth. I think it’s also appropriate for the official to take an oath as well.
    3. Allow the City Council to continue working on the library access hours. I can appreciate good efforts take time and I prefer local politics not create “knee-jerk” reactions.
    4. See item 3 (above). Take the necessary time to do things well.
    5. I don’t want permanent restrooms at Battery Way Park. Portable restrooms work for those times when a restroom is really needed. I don’t want “out-of-towners” hanging around our parks. If we live in Peachtree City, we can return to our homes if we begin to feel uncomfortable.
    6. Seems reasonable, but isn’t that the State’s job? It’s the State’s right-of-way.
    7. Agree. I want to play softball in a “senior league.”
    8. Agree.
    9. I don’t understand the statement.

    I don’t think the remainder of the article adds anything of value.

      • Build it and they will come. Loitering itself. Providing a center for crowd proliferation, clogging cart paths, and ultimately committing crimes. Out-of-towners are not vested in the community. Many litter, use filthy language, and will try to take over as their entitled right. If they are out-of-towners, they should either be someone’s guest or looking to move into town. I’ve lived in popular places before. We could separate the “locals” from the “townies” by the way they acted. I don’t see Peachtree City as a tourist attraction or amusement park. I see it as a community sharing many of the same values. Out-of-towners, or “townies” have little reason to share our values with us. I personally quit attending 4th of July fireworks displays, 12 years ago, becouse of so many townies in the area. Battery Way Park is a five minute walk from my home.

  6. I like Steve so much better when he’s not spewing right-wing culture warrior venom imported from the latest episode of Tucker Carlson. Steve – thank you for keeping that stuff out of this piece as these really are important issues.

    I couldn’t agree more with all of the points Steve makes in this article, and believe me, that’s saying something! The ridiculous displaced left turn at 54/74 is a gigantic waste of time and money that will not solve anything. Learnard and her crew need to stop being dismissive of citizens and understand what it means to be a public servant.
    Our library is one of the city’s crown jewels and every effort should be made to keep it operating in an orderly fashion.
    Totally agree about the concrete walls – while we all understand the need for them, Peachtree City is not the kind of city to have hideous concrete walls. We can and need to do better about beautifying them.

    Please for the love of god replace the lights on the softball field! It’s enough already. Our city is losing its sense of community due to years and years of poor (and corrupt) leadership from Mayor Fleisch and now Learnard. Things like adult softball leagues help bind communities together and help new residents meet people and understand what makes our city so great. We need to encourage these kinds of activities and take care of what we have (like Drake Field, Battery Way Park, and the softball lights) rather than pandering to developers and those that have no interest in being a part of our wonderful community.

    It’s long past time to put the needs and priorities of the citizens who live here first and stop exclusively listening to greedy developers.

    • Why is it when someone leans to the right they are “spewing venom”?? That is uncalled for. People have different opinions and should be allowed to express them. Seems like people that lean left are so intolerant. AND I would rather hear what Tucker Carlson says than any lying left wing journalist. All you had to say is, a lot of times I don’t agree with Steve Brown but this time I agree and he has made some valid points, instead of getting nasty.

      • My sympathies to your relatives. It can be very hard to communicate with someone as far down the right wing rabbit hole as yourself. I say this because if Steve is your definition of someone who simply “leans to the right” I truly shudder to think where your politics are. Based on your defense of the Tucker Carlson, a man who glorifies murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin and gives voice to white nationalist ideologues, I don’t have to think hard. Let me guess, you still don’t understand why someone like Herschel Walker lost or you fancifully blame it on Republican Senate leadership.

        Also, spare me the lecture on “getting nasty”, Steve spews hate nearly every week but somehow that’s not getting nasty? This is probably where you lose my voice so far down that rabbit hole if you haven’t already.

        Lastly I thought it was the liberal snowflakes who were supposed to have thin skin, not Tuckers viewers. Best of luck in the rabbit hole, I know its a scary place full of people coming for your guns and traditional values.