City Council increases proposed Whitlock funds to $4M
by Rachel Miller
May 31, 2013 12:29 AM | 4140 views | 8 8 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
James Nelson, right, speaks before Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin and city council members with Rick Maher by his side during Thursday evening's special meeting regarding possible projects using the Urban Redevelopment Bonds proceeds.
James Nelson, right, speaks before Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin and city council members with Rick Maher by his side during Thursday evening's special meeting regarding possible projects using the Urban Redevelopment Bonds proceeds.
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Hessel Baker, resident and co-owner of Dwell at 750 on Franklin Road, speaks during Thursday’s meeting
Hessel Baker, resident and co-owner of Dwell at 750 on Franklin Road, speaks during Thursday’s meeting
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Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin and members of the city council listen to Chuck Clay and other speakers during Thursday evening's special meeting regarding the use of Urban Redevelopment Bonds proceeds.
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin and members of the city council listen to Chuck Clay and other speakers during Thursday evening's special meeting regarding the use of Urban Redevelopment Bonds proceeds.
slideshow
MARIETTA — After hearing 20 people speak at an hour-long public hearing Thursday night, the City Council revised its $35 million bond proposal by doubling the amount allocated for Whitlock Avenue.

The council dropped the former Lemon Street School from its list of bond projects, moving the school’s proposed $1.2 million earmark over to be spent on Whitlock Avenue.

On Nov. 5, Marietta residents may vote on whether to approve a bond that will now specify $4 million for Whitlock Avenue streetscape improvements and $31 million for Franklin Road property acquisition, demolition of blighted businesses and apartments, as well as the construction of roadways.

The original proposal listed $1.5 million for Whitlock Avenue, $32.3 million for Franklin Road and $1.2 million for Lemon Street, home to Marietta’s African-American students prior to the desegregation of schools.

Councilman Andy Morris led the charge to spend more on Whitlock, saying the project should include lamp posts, a bike path and even expanding the road to allow for a middle turn lane.

Councilman Grif Chalfant agreed with the extra attention to Whitlock and said “the road is crumbling into ditches.”

Council decided in a 5-1 vote that its June 12 meeting is when it will make a final decision on whether to place the bond referendum before voters Nov. 5.

Councilman Philip Goldstein opposed, while Councilman Anthony Coleman was absent.

Council members agreed that the bond should specify the amount of funds for each project. They also agreed that left over money would be used to pay off debt.

“If we are telling folks this is what we need the money for and this is what we are asking you to vote on, we need to hold up to that,” Goldstein said.

Councilman Jim King said he wants to be clear on the “pledge we are making to citizens.”

Hearing the public

The meeting began with a public hearing where a majority of speakers, while supporting the bond proposal, had suggestions on how it could be tweaked. Several spoke of the city’s neglect of Whitlock Avenue.

James Nelson, who lives in the Carriage Oaks neighborhood across from Marietta High School, said “not one dime of (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds has gone to Whitlock Avenue.”

Bond funding, Nelson said, which was originally proposed at $1.5 million for Whitlock, should be closer to $5 million for a major thoroughfare to the heart of the city. “We are not asking for sidewalks to the governor’s house, but improvements to the whole street,” he said.

Nelson went on to say that Whitlock Avenue is littered with vacant homes and empty businesses. He specifically asked for improvements at the intersection of Burnt Hickory Road. “If you want to see blight go to that intersection,” he said.

Another resident described how the proposed project could bring changes to his front door.

In February, Hessel Baker moved to an apartment with his two daughters on Franklin Road after purchasing the complex named Dwell at 750, formerly called Notting Hills.

Baker said after being in the real estate business for 20 years, he bought the property because he wanted to help revitalize the area.

“We are committed to see change take place,” he said.

Baker said he does not lease to anyone with a criminal background at his 304-unit complex.

Baker said the bond’s focus should be on buildings with significant structural issues that need to be bulldozed, since the $35 million would not be enough to buy and clear half of the properties in the Franklin Road corridor.

Despite efforts to improve the community, Baker admitted Franklin Road lacks a certain quality of life.

“It is really hard to attract higher end tenants with the loitering that is taking place,” he said.

For instance, he said a gas station with broken pumps in front of his property is little more than a liquor store that serves as a gathering spot for illicit activity.

The restoration of Franklin Road, Baker said, should include a police substation with more patrolling to control loitering.
Comments
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Whitlock Heights
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September 02, 2013
As a long time west cobb resident newly move to the Heights, I strongly agree that Whitlock Avenue needs to be improved in major way from the HS to the Square. HS residents and other foot traffic along Whitlock risk their lives navigating the road w/ sidewalks.

City has done a wonderful job on Powder Springs St and Fairground St area.

Certainly Whitlock deserves the same, without harming the charm of the historic street.
Breuckelen
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July 31, 2013
I'm new to the area and I can tell you that westbound traffic on Whitlock Avenue is a nightmare after 3:30 PM. There needs to be something done to mitigate the congestion; i.e. turn lanes, traffic light timing, etc. And sidewalks are needed all the way from Burnt Hickory to Glover Park. Perhaps a good clear path for walking would take a car or two off Whitlock and help shed a few pounds in the process.
whitlock avenue
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June 01, 2013
Why does this plan for Whitlock cause me to feel uneasy? The reason is it just simply sounds wrong. For one thing, we don't need a bunch of fancy brick sidewalks or turn lanes. Is this just another way to four-lane one of the prettiest streets in town? I would like to hear how the people who live along Whitlock feel about all of this. Their front yards will be right in the way of the "improvements".
Whitlock Resident
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June 03, 2013
I live on Whitlock Ave and I SUPPORT this 100%. All of my neighbors along Whitlock do as well. NO ONE has said ANYTHING about 4-laneing anything- good try though. We WANT sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, underground utilities at intersections streetscapes, etc. People like you, who try to SCARE voters about 4 laneing Whitlock drive me up a wall! NO ONE is planning to do that!!
Common Sense
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May 31, 2013
Be sure to tweak the language regarding traffic improvements. Instead of "from Cobb Parkway to Franklin Road" it would need to say "from Cobb Parkway to Interstate 75" if the city pursues direct access to I-75's new toll lanes.
no turn lane
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May 31, 2013
We can't be adding a turn lane to Whitlock. Left turning drivers causing others to stop their cars behind them are the only reason any Marietta citizens are able to cross Whitlock on foot, bike or car, EVER.

If we further accommodate the flow of through-traffic from West Cobb and Paluding, then more traffic will flow through as people return to Whitlock from whatever alternative they've used.

We will have more cars passing through, but we won't have helped ourselves in the slightest.

Rather than adding turn lanes, we need to be removing those "Pass on the right" bubble outs such as the one on the Westbound side at Whitlock Dr that allow the never ending stream of cars never to end.

Another idea for Whitlock traffic that would be a GOOD idea for MARIETTA (rather than West Cobb and Polluting Counties) would be elimination of right turns on red at Whitlock and the South Loop. Who knows, maybe some people would even decide to go straight and visit the new Starbucks.

Whitlock is not a good candidate for a pike PATH, as there are far too many driveways and side streets and intersections.

Whitlock could be a fair candidate for an on-road bike LANE, but it would make a lot more sense to add little bike path cut-thru's between the disconnected neighborhoods on the South side of Whitlock.

If we added one or two paths that might be an acre long each, we could USE OUR BRAINS to string together bicycle routes on existing low-traffic roads, rather than building a miserable, hot, smelly (car fumes) dangerous path alongside a road containing a perpetual plague of cars.

Just think ... If there were little bitty bike paths connecting the South-of-Whitlock neighborhoods, anyone could safely ride a bicycle from the Square (or closer) to Marietta High School. What would a few acre-long trails cost? Hardly anything compared to a trail the WHOLE way along Whitlock.

If you HAVE to add a bike path to something to qualify for matching state/fed funds, add it to Kennesaw Ave for God's sake. There are ALWAYS bicyclers commuting up and down Kennesaw Ave, but there are no bike lanes till by that yellow church.

Between Tower Rd and the Square there are not even shoulders, and ridiculously enough, the one lane of travel that's wider than the other lane is the DOWNHILL lane. The bicyclers move along at a fair clip headed out from town, but headed back to town they seem to go about 10mph uphill through the turns, and the so-hurried self-importan people going wherever in their cars will blindly pass on blind turns and nearly crash into cars heading the other way.

CITY COUNCIL, FIX IT! Move the double yellow line towards the CSX tracks by a couple feet and stripe at least a shoulder and some sharrow if not a full fledged bike lane to the inbound side of Kennesaw Ave!

Yes the bike Moutain to River path goes over by Kennestone (prior to disappearing) but guess what, if people are not taking a scenic route trip from the Mountain to the River, they won't use that path. They'll use whatever road leads to wherever they're going. Expecting bicyclers to use the meandering path is like telling you to drive your car to Lenox Mall on I-20. Say WHAT? I-20 doesn't go to either of your house or Lenox. So what, why won't you use I-20 to go to Lenox????? I-20 is there for you and your car to use!!! Take it to LENOX!
All about bikes?
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May 31, 2013
You want the county to spend taxpayer dollars on bike paths? Are you kidding? That is what the Silvercomet Trail is for not Whitlock Avenue. I too am sad abo9ut all of the congestion on Whitlock and the majority from Paulding County. There should be a toll from Paulding into Cobb County. The sad truth is that they extended Barrett Parkway to easy traffic and it dod not work. They opened Macland to Windy Hill to ease traffic and that did not work. Paulding County should be paying for whatever we need and that is not bike paths!
FROM TEXAS
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May 31, 2013
Sounds like union workers duped for big signup bonus; the YUP’s bought off with more sidewalks for their exclusive are. Just wait until hoards of share the road hogs show with 500 cyclists all over their sidewalks. There’ll be a new place to overcrowd instead of Columns Drive by the river and Roy Boy can represent them. Marietta needs another pipe farm wonder if the eye sores are going to go away.
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