Tumlin addresses Franklin Road at town hall
by Rachel Gray
October 11, 2013 12:44 AM | 4755 views | 7 7 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin fields questions from a crowd of 48 residents Thursday evening during the first of two scheduled town hall meeting to offer up  to date information to the voters on the Franklin Road Corridor bond proposal. 
<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin fields questions from a crowd of 48 residents Thursday evening during the first of two scheduled town hall meeting to offer up to date information to the voters on the Franklin Road Corridor bond proposal.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
MARIETTA — There were no impassioned speeches at Thursday night’s town hall meeting about the $68 million redevelopment bond, but 11 speakers took firm stances, mostly against the city’s proposed referendum.

Mayor Steve Tumlin faced tough questions for about an hour on the need and use of taxpayer’s money to purchase and demolish properties along Franklin Road in order to parcel together cleared land to entice developers.

Tumlin said the town hall was a chance to learn from different points of view.

“It is their money…. their neighborhood,” Tumlin said.

Edwin Dyer, who lives in the Laurel Springs neighborhood and is a U.S. Air Force veteran from the Korean and Vietnam wars, said he was concerned over the existing empty land in Marietta that has not been developed.

Dyer highlighted city-backed endeavors like the Marietta Redevelopment Corp.’s stalled project along Powder Springs Street, off West Dixie Avenue and Hedges Street, and the numerous federal housing projects the Marietta Housing Authority has torn down, leaving vacant lots in their place.

“I was wondering if you can sell the (existing) properties and leave the $68 million off the heads of people,” Dyer said.

Tumlin, who stood at the lectern in the council chamber of city hall to field questions from the audience, said the examples Dyer used were unrelated to the bond referendum.

Before the meeting, residents examined six large maps detailing the areas to be developed with bond dollars and renderings of the conceptual plans.

If the $68 redevelopment bond passes Nov. 5, $4 million is earmarked for pedestrian and landscape improvements to Whitlock Avenue.

City engineer Jim Wilgus said those improvements would include sidewalks, crosswalks, medians, lighting, repaving Whitlock Avenue, and mounting traffic lights to metal arms, which now hang from wires.

The full City Council did not attend the meeting, but Councilwoman Annette Lewis, Councilman Grif Chalfant, Johnny Walker, a real estate agent running unopposed for Councilman Johnny Sinclair’s seat, and Marshall Dye, who is running against Councilman Andy Morris, were in the audience.

The crime report

Some speakers did question whether the redevelopment bond project was to develop commercial properties or fight crime.

Councilman Philip Goldstein has said some people have exaggerated the crime rate on Franklin Road, instead of recognizing the great people who live in the area that are part of the Marietta community.

Chief Dan Flynn, who has been with the Marietta Police Department for seven years, said Franklin Road has a bad reputation that mainly stems from a problem with population density.

With numerous large apartment complexes side-by-side, and a population of around 14,000 residents along Franklin Road, there are too many people “crammed into a small area,” Flynn said.

Because of this, Flynn said it is misleading to compare the Franklin Road corridor to similar sized areas populated with only single family homes.

“If you measure the number of crimes per thousand people, it is not worse than other areas,” Flynn said.

Based on a report requested by the City Council in March, Flynn said the Marietta Police Department has reduced felony arrests in the Franklin Road area by 25 percent in a 15 year period, with 3,809 in 1998 and 2,845 in 2012.

A large reason for the success, according to Flynn, was the five-year long Weed and Seed program that started in 2007 and was funded by $824,000 in federal grants.

The Weed and Seed project helped rebuild communities with high criminal activity by partnering residents with law enforcement.

Flynn said the added police presence resulted in reductions in robberies, from 86 in 2007 to 57 in 2011, and auto thefts, from 123 in 2007 to 51 in 2011.

The report does show an increase in homicides, from one in 2007 to four in 2011, and rape, from two in 2007 to seven in 2011, the last year the Weed and Seed program was funded.

Flynn said in town hall meetings around Franklin Road, as well as meeting with apartment managers and neighborhood groups, residents have cried out for more prostitution and drug dealing busts.

“Of the serious crime that does occur, most of that is committed by people who do not live on Franklin Road,” Flynn said.

Flynn estimates 70 percent or more of the crimes around Franklin Road are not violent, but if dilapidated apartments were removed there would be less density, and therefore less crime.

“I am going to work to improve quality of life in the area whether the bond passes or not,” Flynn said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 11, 2013
Now is not the time. People are just now seeing the light of day from our recession and getting back on their feet. They have experienced increased utility fees, gas prices, food prices and cuts in pay if not complete job loss. I understand bond rates are still good and it behooves the City to invest now, but I think the burden would be too great on the individual citizens. In addition, Marietta has done quite a bit lately to improve our fine city. I'd like us to continue developing from the heart of the city (the square) outward before Roswell and Smyrna blast by us with community retail and living space as well as things to do. As another commenter stated, we do have some parcels near the square with plumbing stubbed out and vacant structures that need attention. The completion of these would further increase the vibrancy of our square. Finally, where would the Franklin Road population go? Just another part of Marietta - maybe Dallas Hwy, Fairground Rd., Hwy 41, Powder Springs? We may just displace or disperse the crime problem into our existing "safe" neighborhoods. I certainly don't know the perfect solution or time, but now doesn't seem right.
Think this through
October 11, 2013
There are scenerios that are not being explained to tax payers who do not understand the trickle down effect of economic development. If the bond is passed tax payers will feel a small burden of an increase in tax upfront for a future reduction of taxes. Apartmetns are a burden on the tax base. High density living, using City resources with few actually paying into tax base. With the bond, the City will have the ability to purchase property that could be assembled into larger acreage tracks. Now the City has attractive land to recruit larger industrial companies or any commerical development the private sector may dictate. This recruitment would create higher payng jobs (no more long commute into ATL),increased use of City utilities and a safer, more attractive gateway to Marietta off I75. In return, the City would no longer have to use tax payers' money for the heavy police presence and will collect additional revenue from the use of City utilities, business licence fees and taxes collected from the new businesses. The creation of commercial buinesses puts the tax burden on the businesses and keeps property taxes down in the future. Let's start thinking long term.
Undecided Franklin
October 14, 2013
I agree that there are possible benefits to redeveloping Franklin Road, but I disagree that this aspect is not being explained to tax payers. I'm not sure that I totally agree that high density living is a burden either. The infrastructure (roads, plumbing, power, etc) needed to accommodate the 14,000 folks on Franklin is a lot less than that needed to accommodate the same number of folks in a suburban sprawl setting.

I think what is missing from the story is the numbers:

How many people living on Franklin are transient?

For the people who are not transient, where will these people go?

The Marietta Police Chief mentioned that the crime per capita is the same as anywhere else in Marietta. And, supposedly, a lot of the crime that is committed there is not being done by the residents. Some numbers on this topic would be good.
a better idea
October 11, 2013
Rather than this huge project on the backs of taxpayers intended to rid the city of poor people and make some developers even richer, how about we take a different approach that will benefit everyone.

City of Marietta need to start annual car safety inspections for resident cars. If you live here, your car must pass the safety inspection or you don't get a tag. Cities and municipalities all over America (except here in the South) have done annual car safety inspections as a matter of routine for decades. There is no legal issue with doing safety inspections.

In most places, anuual car safety inspections just make cars a little less dangerous. All of us here would get that direct benefit for our efforts. Here in Marietta, where you could just move to an apartment Smyrna if you car won't pass inspection, annual car inspetions would also have a displacement effect. This would result in Franklin Rd people moving to Smyrna. Problem solved.

We need to do it before Smyrna does it to us. The first one to market with car safety inspections wins the displacement effect! Everyon else wins the displaced.
October 11, 2013
The amount you want to add to my annual property tax bill as a giveaway for developers on Franklin Rd will cost me about what city monopoly digital service provider Comcast charges me per MONTH.

If you eliminate the analog-signal-based cable monopoly since no monopoly is needed anymore now that all signals are digital, allowing for competition and for the market to lower these prices that have more than doubled in a decade, then I will consider voting for your Franklin Rd bond.

Given some competition, perhaps I could afford to pay the extra taxes for Franklin Rd if my cable bill came back from Comcast's accounting office which is apparently in outer space, the only location that can receive something so high
they say
October 11, 2013
They say they will proceed with the Franklin Rd plans regardless of whether the bond vote passes.

What that says is "the ballot for $68 million in taxes says it will be for Franklin Rd, but really we are doing that no matter what, so this $68 million bond is effectively for less important things we don't care to disclose which may not happen without the so-called Franklin Rd bond being approved by the voters."

SO, Marietta, what is the $68 million list of relatively worthless items that have to be passed via a Franklin Road shell game bond vote?

If they say they will do it without the bond, I guess the only way to find out what would be bought with the existing funds that would be freed up by a Franklin Rd bond will be to fail the bond and watch them start making omelets.
October 11, 2013
You should re-read the article, dumb-dumb.
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