Most of the proceeds from the referendum will be used to buy worn-out, crime-wracked apartment complexes along the Franklin Road corridor. They will be bulldozed, then the land assembled and redeveloped via a public-private partnership with an as-yet undetermined partner.
That bond vote was a recognition by city residents that they and City Hall had turned a blind eye to Franklin Road’s many problems for long enough, and that those problems are so intractable and deeply rooted that the private sector could not tackle the job on its own.
The city elections that took place concurrent with the bond referendum saw Tumlin re-elected for another four-year term. Tumlin garnered four of every five votes cast in what amounted not just to a landslide victory, but to a clear and broad-based mandate for his agenda.
As was noted on this page last week, the passage of the bond, while a turning point, was none the less the “easy” part of the task. Much more challenging will be the process of choosing the city’s partner or partners in the redevelopment process, and making sure that the remade Franklin corridor benefits all Mariettans, not just the bottom line of the builder involved. It also is crucial that the coming process is a completely transparent one.
Voters’ overwhelming re-election of Tumlin was not just a long-overdue recognition of the need to tackle Franklin’s problems, but an affirmation that they trust Tumlin to oversee the process and ensure that those involved are chosen based on quality and vision, not cronyism.
Although there’s little doubt that Tumlin will be closely focused on Franklin for most of his new term, there is no shortage of other issues to compete for his attention. The bond debate focused new attention on the city’s crime problems, and the growing challenge posed by gangs. It will be crucial that the remake of Franklin doesn’t just shunt that corridor’s problems into other parts of the city. And indeed, there are other parts of Marietta that need more than just a taste of the kind of TLC that soon will be lavished on Franklin Road.
Traffic issues are always at or near the top of the city’s agenda, and it will be interesting to see if Tumlin’s proposal that traffic be routed one-way around the Square takes hold. There are also the usual challenges of keeping taxes low and the BLW competitive.
But Tumlin and the incoming city council are more than capable of meeting those challenges. And we suspect that four years hence, that Mariettans will be able to look back and see that this Tuesday’s vote was indeed a “landmark election.”