The bond proposal represents Mayor Steve Tumlin’s visionary hopes for turning a blighted and deteriorating part of the city into a centerpiece of new development and economic growth not only for Marietta but for other areas of Cobb as well.
If approved, the bond would provide $64 million for acquiring and demolishing 10 apartment complexes bordering Franklin Road, leaving up to 190 acres cleared for new development by the private sector and infrastructure improvements. The remaining $4 million of the bond proceeds would be spent for streetscape work along Whitlock Avenue, including sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and intersection improvements.
Mayor Tumlin has said the focus of the redevelopment is to create a commercial setting not limited to specific developments.
The point, he told the board of the Downtown Marietta Development Authority last month, is that Marietta should not miss out on any opportunities that may arise. At the same meeting, city school board chairman Randy Weiner said the redevelopment would help the school system that now must contend with a highly transient population in the Franklin Road area.
Weiner said that in 2012 school tax revenue from the corridor generated only about $800,000 — but it cost the school district $6 million in local revenue for educating students from Franklin Road. In contrast, he said a light industrial complex would produce three times as much tax revenue as does an existing apartment building there.
The first town hall meeting for citizens to give their views will be Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The second public meeting will be a week later on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. at Marietta High School, 1171 Whitlock Ave.
Information about the redevelopment plan and how the bond proceeds would be spent, including detailed maps of the areas and conceptual drawings, are posted on the city’s website, mariettaga.gov, a starting point for learning about this $68 million bond proposal. But to get more details and to ask questions of our city officials, Marietta citizens should take advantage of the town hall meetings in the next two weeks. If there’s one thing our city needs, it is well informed voters.