By Don Haddix
Mayor, Peachtree City
Mr. Bookman wrote an opinion on the short-sightedness of my effort to move from ARC to Three Rivers due to the TSPLOST proposal. I would reply his view is antiquated and does nothing but repeat the failures that have occurred over and over in all the major cities where the view was a single Hub serving everyone for miles around. Multiple Hubs, on the other hand, relieve the pressures and allow a lot more green space and more time at home than on the road.
I am also saying the bill is a bad bill, as has been stated all over the State. It needs to retracted and reworked. Legislators have, to date, dug their heels in saying work with what you got. As in ARC we are not all the same, do not share all the same needs, plans or goals, but we are being told to merge into one unified whole, an attitude I understand some of one political mind set support but many of us do not. We believe in Home Rule.
As a Roundtable Mayor who will be discussing and voting on this measure and a 23 year resident of Fayette County, specifically Peachtree City, I believe I am in a far superior position to understand all the intricacies of the issues than Mr. Bookman is.
The politicos pushing the idea that not being in ARC would reduce our prosperity and property values, as he also claims, which is political positioning, not reality. Fact is we were in what has become Three Rivers until 1991. Fact is we are a Planned Community that has grown from a crossroads in 1959 with only a handful of homes in the area to a city of about 37,000 people because we were different from Atlanta. People moved here to escape Urbanism. Over half our growth occurred while not in ARC. Same with our home values. Values are not based on your Region but claims of loss are effective tools, along seniors being hurt, to scare people.
But these fears worked at least for now. The vote at this time is 3-2 to remain in ARC. One voting to stay is pro rail, the only one on Council, and pro regionalism. One is a Realtor, so the homes values fear stuck. One said nothing. The two of us who have been on Council the longest, one being a former Gwinnett resident, voted to leave.
As well the statement was made about the ARC Urban model being the plan of the future. That was the plan of years gone by that failed right along with Build it and They will Come. I am a proponent of Smart Growth, for which Peachtree City is an often cited model. It is not about the Urbanism bus, rail and multiple lane highways and living one place then having to journey miles, as Mr. Bookman said, to work shop and play. It is about paths for walking, bicycles, golf carts and similar modes of transportation to get traffic off of the roads and working, shopping, schools, playing etc where you live. It is about controlled growth. We do not even have a downtown, but five Village Centers.
Mr. Bookman does not seem to realize most modern jobs have no requirement to be located in big cities or dense Urban areas. They can be in Fayette just as effectively as in Atlanta. Actually more effectively if the zoning, landscaping, buffers and other ordinances are enforced. More and more companies are realizing that, such as NCR who located hundreds of high paying jobs here with an employee base that love the area.
Am I knocking those who want the Urban life? Not at all! But as well I am saying do not try to destroy our way of life.
I am also saying that trying to pack more roads, buses and rail into a transportation system that isn’t working now is not an answer, as the poll stated across the board from every county as well in May of this year.. Trying to plan for adding another several million to the already existing density in the same areas does not make sense with our water issues and knowing the adds will do nothing but consume any additions made gaining no ground. With already over $200 billion of identified projects and only seeing maybe $6.7 billion the first ten years this tax is not a solution.
Repeating the same efforts over and over expecting a different outcome is the definition of, well, you know. We need a different answer.