Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial recently delivered his annual State of the Town address.
Dial praised the town’s commitment “to maintain its small-town feel as we inevitably grow in a responsible way. Growth is necessary, but it needs to be deliberate.”
To that end, Dial said, “That’s why you haven’t seen us selling out to any apartment complexes or 500,000 sq. ft. distribution centers. It’s not who we are and it’s not who we want to be.”
Dial said that “the old fire station will be repurposed and possibly completely remodeled in 2023.”
Another emphasis will be “downtown walkability” and connections — including multi-use paths. “We are also committed to bringing people downtown from existing neighborhoods by constructing multi-use paths,” Dial said.
“This year we will give over a thousand residents golf cart access to downtown that currently don’t have it. First is the Farr Road corridor,” Dial said.
“We will also begin and probably complete construction this year on the Senoia Road/Spencer Road multi-use path which will provide Southampton residents access to downtown and residents on our east side access to the shopping center.
“For Pendleton, Berry Hill, and Swanson Valley, we will invest in traffic calming and share- the-road measures that will allow you to get downtown on foot or on golf carts,” Dial said.
Other construction projects for this year include “the roundabout at Arrowood/Palmetto/and Spencer Roads,” “the new pickleball courts at Redwine Park,” and improvements to Handley Park.
Following is the mayor’s address on Feb. 16 in its entirety:
State of The Town Address — Mayor Eric Dial Mayor Dial
As always, it is an honor to come before you on behalf of Tyrone’s council and staff to provide an update on the state of the town. Even better, it is a pleasure to address you. It is a pleasure because Tyrone is a great place to live and work. I’m not put in a position where I have to sugarcoat anything about our town. Presenting to you the facts about our town is a pleasure in and of itself.
In preparation, I decided I would put myself in the position of someone in any state in America looking for a place to live. What would they be looking for? What I found was home value, low crime, good schools, high life expectancy, good health care, walkability, access to various forms of transportation and shopping, and most importantly access to a broad range of places to worship freely. In short, what I found was the Town of Tyrone.
We are all blessed to be living and working here and we should never take that for granted. Tyrone continues to rank in the top 3 of the safest cities in Georgia year after year without fail. That’s an accomplishment that is virtually unheard of. Thank you to our police department and our citizens for the role you play in this. Since I have mentioned our officers, I want to take this exit ramp to discuss something real quick.
We see our men and women doing their jobs and I think we do a good job of thanking them, but are we really aware of what they take home with them each night? PTSD is not just for veterans. First responders have these same issues, and many of these challenges impact them and their families. We’ve seen some of the realities of this throughout this past year. Our men and women have struggled together and supported one another when they deal with the difficulties of the job.
So when you pray for the safety of our officers as they protect us, I ask that you also pray for them and their families in how the job impacts them mentally and emotionally. That doesn’t mean they want to talk about it, but they do deserve our prayers.
It has always been made clear to us, and we agree, that Tyrone needs to maintain its small-town feel as we inevitably grow in a responsible way. Growth is necessary, but it needs to be deliberate.
Every step we have taken over these years has been with the intent of doing just that. That’s why you haven’t seen us selling out to any apartment complexes or 500,000 sq. ft. distribution centers. It’s not who we are and it’s not who we want to be.
So as we do revitalize and grow, our plans and actions have incorporated the look and feel that the citizens have asked for. Every major change has involved citizen committees that offer feedback and direction.
This work has resulted in designs for downtown with the Town Center Mixed Use overlay, the Livable Center Initiative, and plans for the northern corridor of Highway 74. We designed this building in a way that other builders and investors would want to mimic.
I spoke with a potential downtown property buyer recently who said, “whatever we build, we want it to look like Town Hall because we love the look of it.” This is exactly what we were shooting for and we hope that all future property owners will have that same sentiment.
Another way we can make this happen is through the creation of the Downtown Development Authority.
While they are a separate entity, we work closely with them, we help fund them, we share ideas, and we have crossover in dedicated staff and Councilman Campbell. The DDA has some great ideas for downtown and you will see some of these ideas come to fruition this year.
For example, we are confident that the old fire station will be repurposed and possibly completely remodeled in 2023. It will serve as another impetus for a vibrant downtown. We have already had many conversations with people who are interested in that property and I am confident that you will be pleased with the outcome.
We also have a very active Friends of the Museum committee that is regularly hosting events to raise money and to attract visitors to enjoy the many artifacts that have been assembled.
This is another reason to come into town and another reason we need to commit ourselves to make it easy for people to get here.
Something else that we are doing to partner with investors is our streetscape program. We will begin construction on our downtown streetscape projects this Spring to improve the aesthetics and walkability of our downtown. We are also committed to bringing people downtown from existing neighborhoods by constructing multi-use paths. If we want a vibrant downtown, we have to bring people here, preferably on foot or golf cart.
This year we will give over a thousand residents golf cart access to downtown that currently don’t have it.
First is the Farr Road corridor. I am finally able to announce that we are confident that all right-of-way acquisitions will be complete for the Tyrone Road path by next week. This means that we will be able to begin construction in the Spring or Summer. Amen to that!
Secondly, we will also begin and probably complete construction this year on the Senoia Road/Spencer Road multi-use path which will provide Southampton residents access to downtown and residents on our east side access to the shopping center.
For Pendleton, Berry Hill, and Swanson Valley, we will invest in traffic calming and share- the-road measures that will allow you to get downtown on foot or on golf carts.
It’s not as easy for an existing municipality to build cart paths as it is for a new city, and it takes much longer to do so, but we are doing all we can to make it happen. If you don’t have a literal multi-use path adjacent to you, keep in mind that our golf cart ordinance allows for street use in many cases based on the speed limit.
Another big project we expect to work on in 2023 will be the roundabout at Arrowood/Palmetto/and Spencer Roads. This will take about a year to complete, but it’s important to our traffic flow so we’ll get it done. Shifting gears to park investments, we are excited to see the progress of the new pickleball courts at Redwine Park.
Another project that will begin construction in the coming weeks, the bid has been awarded and we are currently picking our colors. Anybody that’s built a house knows that when you’re picking out colors you know tangible change is right around the corner. We will have 8 new courts available to the pickleball community which is exploding in popularity. 2023 will also bring about improvements to Handley Park.
We recently purchased new scoreboards, we’re paying for field improvements, and we plan to complete the new bathrooms for the soccer fields this year. I’ve mentioned many new projects that are finally coming to fruition in 2023. I want to point out that this is only half of what will actually be accomplished.
Much of what we do falls under the category of maintenance and improvements. Exciting things like culverts, dams, cleaning, pruning, repairs, road resurfacing, etc. These are the things we thank our public works team members for. We have a group of men that work hard all day every day regardless of the weather and we’re grateful for them.
The majority of the projects I’ve mentioned are being funded by the 2017 SPLOST. Without the SPLOST approval, they either wouldn’t be done, would be significantly delayed, or would be funded by increased millage rates. 6
Fayette County voters will be voting in March (election day is March 21st) to renew this SPLOST with a new list of projects. I invite you to visit our website or come by to see what is planned based on the input from a citizen committee for the 2023 SPLOST prior to your vote.
Speaking of our website, I want to tell you about a new tool you can use to stay informed about what we’re doing and how far along we are. Brandon has prepared a spreadsheet that will be updated as a project advances. Visit tyronega.gov/projects for this information.
I also encourage everyone to visit our website to sign up for our newsletter so you can receive all of our town news and events. Thank you, Brandon, for these tools and everything else you do. In this newsletter, you will be introduced to all of the activities of our library and recreation department among others. Both of these departments host events constantly throughout the week that appeal to all age groups. Patty and Lynda lead outstanding departments and deserve major kudos for their commitment to our town.
If 2023 sounds like a year of hard work and progress, that’s because it is. Many of the things we’ve been planning and preparing for over the last 6-8 years will actually happen this year.
As slow as these things are, they are essential to successful and cost-effective projects. Scott and Phillip, thank you for guiding us through this aspect of our work. Fortunately, funding is not our major challenge, and we have a strong team led by Sandy that helps us navigate our way through funding issues. Probably our biggest challenge will be manpower. We are limited in what we can accomplish from a project management standpoint so it may be that we have to address that during budget season.
You deserve to have things done the way we have promised you they would. Earlier I spoke about all of the advantages of living in Tyrone. We are doing our part in making Tyrone a great investment and we will continue to do so. Now we need private investors to join us in making it a vibrant community with a small- town feel.
In closing, I want to thank this council and our outstanding staff for the role each of you plays in this town.
You don’t have council members who have run for office for glamorous reasons. Your council members love their town and have sacrificed in countless ways to make it better.
You don’t have staff members who clock in, draw a paycheck, complain about their jobs, pass time, and clock out. You have staff members who have committed themselves to us and do everything they can to perform well – despite modest pay in a difficult economy. On behalf of council and our citizens, we appreciated your work ethic, integrity, and attitudes.
Let’s all, almost 8,000 of us, work together for the best interest of our town. We won’t always agree on everything, but let’s respect one another and stand together on the principle that what God has blessed us with, we will do our very best to protect and maintain.