The Bond: ‘Doing nothing’ is no longer an option
November 01, 2013 12:00 AM | 2212 views | 12 12 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA VOTERS have a choice to make on Tuesday, one that will resonate for decades. Passage of the proposed $68 million redevelopment bond for the Franklin Road corridor can reasonably be expected to result in the transformation of a blighted area on the city’s front doorstep into a glittering showcase. Should voters fail to pass the bond, on the other hand, the corridor can be expected to continue its steady descent into crime-ridden decrepitude.

The corridor is lined with garden apartments built in the 1970s and ’80s that were appealing in their long-ago heyday but now are nearing the end of their lifecycle. About 1,489 students live along that 1.1-mile stretch of road, who, thanks to their parents, contribute disproportionately to the Marietta School System’s sky-high transience rate.

The corridor for years also has kept the city’s police busy, pockmarked as it is by illegal drug use and trafficking, prostitution, break-ins and gangs.

Mayor Steve Tumlin has proposed using the bond proceeds to acquire the worst of the apartment complexes, bulldoze them and then convey the land to the private sector for redevelopment. He argues that market forces would then pressure owners of the remaining complexes to upgrade their properties and also allow them to be more selective in who they rent to.

There’s little doubt that the land in question would be highly desirable for redevelopment, as it sits between Interstate 75 to the east and Cobb Parkway to the west and is accessed to the north by South Marietta Parkway and to the south by Delk Road. Don’t forget that the area also will soon benefit from the state’s $1 billion reversible-lane project along I-75. Plus, low interest rates and depressed property values make this an ideal time for the city to act.

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THE “EASY” PART of this process is the passage of the bond. The bigger challenges will come during the process of finding and selecting a developer or developers for the land. Transparency and accountability will be key. Tumlin is to be commended for having already persuaded the council to issue a Request for Qualifications for firms interested in managing the project on behalf of the city and for enlisting the help of “experts” in coming up with a master plan for the land, thereby doing much to take the politics of City Hall (“where good ideas go to die”) out of the equation.

As for those who now live in those apartments, they stand only to gain from the remake. No one wants to live in a slum, no matter how “affordable” it might be. But the Marietta Housing Authority has more than proven its skill and dedication at helping relocate those on the low end of the economic scale into better living arrangements.

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LOCAL RESIDENTS — and area business people and developers — are well aware of what the Cumberland/Galleria and Town Center areas have to offer just one or two exits north and south of the city on I-75. They’re also all too aware that Marietta has been left behind as other parts of Cobb have grown. Those who exit I-75 on Marietta Parkway and Delk Road headed toward the Square are greeted by a parade of shabby storefronts, rundown strip malls and an empty, burned-out hotel — and the view only gets worse if one goes down Franklin Road, where streetwalkers and pimps are not an unusual sight.

The “gateways” into Marietta should show the city at its best — not its worst.

The proposed bond represents the best chance Marietta has had — or is likely to have — to reverse the current situation.

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THIS NEWSPAPER has never been a fan of government solutions to problems. We far prefer that government get out of the way and let the private sector do its thing. That approach has been tried along Franklin, and failed. City Hall turned a blind eye to Franklin’s deterioration for decades, apparently hoping the problems would cure themselves. It didn’t happen. Franklin’s challenges are too complicated and too entrenched for a developer to risk the necessary energy and capital. Those developers went elsewhere while City Hall napped and Franklin’s problems worsened.

So at this point, reluctantly, it appears that nothing positive is likely to happen along Franklin unless local government takes the lead. Yet it’s too big of a challenge for government to do by itself. Tumlin’s plan to buy and bulldoze the worst of the apartments while creating a workable assemblage of cleared land is the best plan that has come along for Franklin in decades. It should result in a stunning revitalization of a now-depressed corridor, a chance for the city to reverse the short-sighted decision of long-ago to green-light construction of 11 apartment complexes so close together. Moreover, the redevelopment should be the seed that helps create a healthy “halo” effect on nearby areas and invigorates the city and its school system.

Marietta is at a crossroad, and “doing nothing” is no longer a viable option for the city.

Vote “yes” on the redevelopment bond on Tuesday.



Comments
(12)
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Lucy S. Williams
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November 05, 2013
I'd like to raise you $68 million and if we fast forward 20 years, nothing will still be done in that area and I'd bet that this "crime ridden" area will still seeing at least 90 percent of what it already sees. Let's be realistic people!
SkipA
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November 02, 2013
Government buying up land to give to developers to revitalize the area. How'd that work out for Smyrna?
NO SPSU? VOTE NO!
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November 01, 2013
SINCE THERE WILL BE NO MORE SPSU IN MARIETTA, WE BETTER VOTE NO ON A TAX FOR REDOING FRANKLIN RD WITH AN SPSU UNIVERSITY DISTRICT IN MIND!
Dave H
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November 01, 2013
You nailed it. This will determine the future of the city. "Dying Marietta" or "Thriving Marietta." It's that simple.
DoSomething; Enforce
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November 01, 2013
Doing Nothing is not an option is true, but is passing a bond the answer? Marietta needs to do something no doubt. Why not make the probably out of town apartment complex owners maintain proper housing codes if even you have to expand the Marietta Housing Code Enforcement Department? How much can the Marietta Housing Authority help relocate residents more than an apartment finder website on a computer? If most residents just move to neighboring apartment complexes on Franklin Road, how does that help reduce transiency in the Marietta City Schools? If we shuffle people around, have we helped them do better in school? Is it to our best interest to provide more educational support for these children and parents so that they can improve there job opportunities after they exit the school system? Would more money spent on the existing Marietta Mentoring program get more bang for the buck? Would waiting for the economy to improve be a possibility so the Board of Regents could expand dorms within the area for growing KSU and So. Poly? It is good to come up with ideas and plans but is city government is supposed to be in the risky real estate business?
Veteran Observer
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November 01, 2013
Agree completely! A public private solution in this area makes sense! I look forward to this revitalization and creating competition for the platinum triangle where our tax dollars go to die!
The Future
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November 01, 2013
Amen!
68 million
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November 01, 2013
How much light rail could we get through downtown Vinings SMyrna and Marietta for $68 million? I bet a LOT, and that would be a big improvement for everyone who works in the Cumberland/Vinings area or all the way into downtown Atlanta.

Light rail would send our cityburban home values through the roof, doubling, tripling, and quadrupling them over the 10 year bond period while saving each of us more on gasoline than the tax would cost us.

So, if we just HAVE to spend money, why throw good money after bad on Franklin Rd when there are better things to spend money on?

If we want the poor to go away, just start with car safety inspections. If your car does not pass a safety inspection, you cannot register it here, which means if you are poor you will move before spending $hundreds or $$$thousands on car repairs when a new minimum wage job and new apartment in another county are far more easily had.

See, the unspoken luxury of poverty is relocation: When you have nothing and have no ties, you can get up and move just because the assistant manager called you lazy.

Give the poor a REAL reason to move, such as "you can't drive the only car you own," and they will all be gone within 2 years for FREE (not $68 million) while the rest of us will have safer cars (having fixed any issues as a result of our own car safety inspections). We may not even use our cars very often if we have a light rail option for commuting like real places have, but they could sit in our driveways more safely (and sitting in a driveway or garage is the ONLY place any car even approaches safety).

Some folk say light rail brings crime. When its scope of coverage is limited, that might be somewhat true. The more places rail goes, though, the less negative effect is seen in any place, but the postives continue accumulating with every new station that's built.

Also, getting your iPad stole is much less bad for you than getting a fractured leg or severed head in a car crash, so let's fear the right things. We were all petrified when that reporter got his head severed in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago, but nodody thinks twice about hopping in a car where heads are severed every day.

So if we want to spend a tenth of a $billion to (allegedly) improve this place, let's get started on light rail. Let's add things instead of remove things. We have removed PLENTY already but that has yet to bring us anyting but PVC and weeds.
Veteran Observer
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November 01, 2013
68 you do understand that this is a Marietta bond and project? The county has transportation issues, but those will not be addressed until 80% of our transportation taxes are not spent in the Cumberland or Town Center areas!
70% tax increase?
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November 01, 2013
If the options are doing nothing or a 70% tax increase, I'll take "doing nothing."

Current city government millage is about 2.6. Adding "2 mills" to that, which hardly anyone knows what that really means, makes the millage 4.6 which is 69.5% higher.

Do YOU want a 70% tax increase?

Assuming everyone falls for being scared of crime and votes for a 70% tax increase, that shuts down 9 or 10 apartment complexes. Based on the numbers of children outside each apartment complex waiting for the school bus each morning, why can't we pay for their destruction and relocation out of savings on school taxes?

Surely we can shut down an elementary school or two after ridding the city of so many children. So where is the school tax reduction on this scheme?

This is just another pie in the sky plan to remove perceived negatives, but why not follow a path that instead adds positives? When you add positives, it brings everything up and the negatives go away ON THEIR OWN
Math In the House
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November 01, 2013
Hello, I am Math. I have a problem with what "70% tax increase" said. Yes, Marietta's millage rate is 2.6 mills. Yes, the bond is 2 mills. However, "70% tax increase" is skipping a step. He is forgetting to subtract the 1.18 mills that is being taken out of the total millage rate with the expiration of the school bond. That means the millage increase will only be .813. That is not 70%. I am hoping that "70% tax increase" changes his name to "Only a slight tax increase so Marietta keeps the title of the best place to live in Metro Atlanta"

Don't forget to show your work and circle your answers!

Math in the House
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November 01, 2013
Math in the House - Marietta's millage rate is:

2.788 for City,

0.079 for Cemetery

2.867 Total

On a $250,000 house with homestead exemption, that is a tax of $275.23

If the bond passes, the tax will be $467.23

That is a 70% increase, or $192.00

Don't be so proud of the retired school bond, you are paying for it in increased SPLOST sales tax right now.

The millage increase if the bond passes is 2.000 mills. It is not s slight tax increase as you say...

Thanks for playing, and don't forget to correct your wrong numbers.

If you support the bond great, but don't be a dolt about what it is truly going to cost you.



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