The Atlanta Braves have announced they are moving to Cobb for the 2017 season. Great news — or is it? Five major questions have not been asked. The answers will define the quality of life for Cobb’s residents after 2017.
1. It is startling that Gov. Deal was never consulted on this move until the very last day. State transportation planners will likely be asked to fund improvements around the site and the governor responded: “I have no indication that I’ll be putting any infrastructure funds in my budget. I do not see this as something that the taxpayers of this state will be asked to pay for.”
The state DOT already has plans to build new lanes along I-75 that actually bypass Cobb, in a public-private agreement. Where will the money for infrastructure come from?
2. It has been reported that Cobb will pay for 45 percent of the proposed $672 million stadium complex cost. Where will the money for infrastructure come from?
3. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stated: “Because of the transportation issues, Cobb is going to have to have rail, which would be the first introduction of light rail.” Cobb Chair Tim Lee responded it will be Bus Rapid Transit.” The BRT proposal would cost $1.1 billion, as the recent Northwest Corridor Alternatives Study recommends. Where will $1.1 billion come from?
4. Voters in Marietta recently approved a $68 million project to improve the Franklin Road corridor in Marietta. The city plans to look to the private sector for redevelopment. With the Braves coming, this site will develop as mixed use, including hotels, motels and commercial development.
Has anyone determined how the new traffic will impact Cobb Parkway (Hwy. 41) and I-75, between Hwy.120 and Windy Hill Road? Where will the money for infrastructure come from?
5. Once the Braves’ new stadium is built and the infrastructure completed, what will the impact on Cobb’s budget for additional Public Safety personnel, to protect the new region and the maintenance of the massive new infrastructure have on Cobb residents’ property taxes?
Do we now know why the Atlanta Chamber, Cobb Chamber, Atlanta Regional Commission, Cumberland Improvement District and Tim Lee were such strong supporters of rail from Atlanta to Cumberland Mall and Town Center in the 2012 TSPLOST proposal? That proposal failed in Cobb County by 61-39 percent vote. How will this proposal be viewed when these questions are answered?
Editor’s note: Bill Byrne is a former chairman of the Cobb Board of Commissioners.