The Redevelopment Bond: City might keep dying on vine without passage
by Mary Ansley Southerland
November 05, 2013 12:00 AM | 1024 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The citizens of Marietta have an epic opportunity today. With a YES vote and passing the Redevelopment Bond, we can quit making excuses, quit throwing precious resources down the drain and quit turning our heads and hoping that someone else will fix our problem. Franklin Road has become too big for someone else to fix. A 2-mill increase in our property taxes is a reasonable price to pay for the benefits we will see.

There are many human decency reasons to support the stabilization of Franklin Road. The crime and poverty statistics speak for themselves and should induce outrage. Diffusing the concentration of violent crime, reducing the strain on our police and fire and emergency responders are reasons enough to pass the bond.

However, more importantly, helping the residents break the cycle of move-in and move-out every three months in a quest to get the lowest short-term rent will help many children have a solid and steady school experience.

Dismantling the complexes that allow people in short-term and with little or no background checks will certainly improve safety and security for these families while allowing that property to be recreated. The creation of a new business- and industry-friendly space turns the negative into a positive. With new business and industry come jobs. With new jobs, come people. New people mean further investment in our community. Whether it be housing, retail, restaurants, entertainment or services, the investment that follows population growth benefits all.

The middle income segment of Marietta is vital to our city’s future. According to the most recent census figures, Marietta’s middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate. Only 35 percent of Marietta’s population qualifies as middle class, compared to figures over 50 percent in surrounding areas. This could be due to a variety of factors, but I can personally attest to the fact that the statistical data presented to outsiders looking to relocate here does us no favors.

In my 25-plus years in the mortgage business in Marietta, it has been a rare occasion that someone moving to this area chooses Marietta without some predetermined connection to our city. The prospective buyer sees average income levels of a little over $27,000, pockets where the percentage of residents at or below the poverty level exceeds 40 percent, alarmingly high drop-out rates at our flagship Marietta High School, and the very high percentage of our students receiving free and reduced lunches.

An outsider without someone to be a cheerleader and an advocate for Marietta would probably choose another part of the area to set up housekeeping or shop.

If you do not know better, Marietta looks really unappealing. If this trend continues, Marietta will die on the vine.

We do have the chance to keep the vine thriving! A positive vote and passing the Redevelopment Bond will be a catalyst for things needed to GROW MARIETTA. Improving percentages does not mean that anyone has to be “run out of town.” We can accomplish this goal by increasing the populations that support a healthy economy in Marietta. Everyone wins.

Marietta is truly a special place. For those of us who already live here, we enjoy a wonderful lifestyle and our children receive a world-class education. Our city government services are top-notch. Now, we need to make sure it stays that way for future generations.

Please vote YES when you go to the polls today.

Mary Ansley Southerland is a lifelong resident of Marietta, a business owner and is the daughter of late Mayor Ansley Meaders.
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