Smyrna seeks $51M for SPLOST wish list
by Haisten Willis
June 24, 2014 04:00 AM | 2924 views | 3 3 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smyrna Fire Chief Paige Day discusses some of the improvements needed to be made to Fire Station 2 on Monday. The improvements are being made to comply with the National Fire Protection Association standards and to increase public access to the station. Among the proposed improvements is changing from the common bunk room living quarters, seen here, to a dorm-style living space.<br>Staff/C.B. Schmelter
Smyrna Fire Chief Paige Day discusses some of the improvements needed to be made to Fire Station 2 on Monday. The improvements are being made to comply with the National Fire Protection Association standards and to increase public access to the station. Among the proposed improvements is changing from the common bunk room living quarters, seen here, to a dorm-style living space.
Staff/C.B. Schmelter
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SMYRNA — Leaders from the city of Smyrna are considering $51 million in projects that could be part of a 1 percent sales tax renewal vote Nov 4.

The renewal would be for six years, running from 2016 to 2021.

One large project on the city’s proposed list is a $2 million replacement of Smyrna Fire Station 2, which has sat on Concord Road since 1976, according to Smyrna City Administrator Eric Taylor.

Taylor said it hasn’t been decided if a new fire station will be built on the same location or elsewhere, but there has been a need to replace the fire station for years.

A key difference between the current fire station and more modern stations is it still has open-style living quarters, with bunk beds separated only by partitions. The replacement will feature more of a dorm style with enclosed bedrooms, Taylor said.

Teri Anulewicz, a Smyrna councilwoman representing Ward 3, said the city’s firefighters need the upgrade.

“We have some amazing fire facilities in the city of Smyrna, and station two has aged in a way where it’s time for some TLC,” she said. “We have some people working out of there doing amazing things and the facility is not commensurate with that.”

The city’s biggest project is a reworking of Windy Hill Road from South Cobb Drive to Atlanta Road. At $40 million, the project would cost 10 times as much as the second-biggest project.

“This would be a way to improve traffic along Windy Hill Road without losing the community feel in the area,” said Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon.

The project is needed, Bacon said, because the Windy Hill Road/Macland Road connector brings traffic from west Cobb and Paulding County heading toward Interstate 75. The connector opened in 2011.

Smyrna would pay $20 million, if the new SPLOST is approved by voters, and the county would pay $18 million toward the project. The city has $2 million to use toward the project from the 2011 SPLOST.

Taylor likened the Windy Hill proposal to Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle. Middle lanes on Windy Hill would be built for westbound drivers headed to Interstate 75 to continue unimpeded. Each side of the express lanes would be bracketed by local roads, allowing for traffic to have access to local businesses.

Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, has said he’s on board with the idea.

Another major project in Smyrna is $4 million in improvements to the intersection of Spring Road and Cumberland Boulevard. Taylor said the improvements are needed because Spring Road will be one of 14 access points to the new Braves stadium expected to open in 2017.

“We’re expecting an increase in traffic along with the opening of the stadium,” Taylor said.

The intersection is the first one to the west of the stadium site along Spring Road, and is expected to bring traffic from the west for Braves games.

Anulewicz said the improvements would be needed even without the stadium.

“Anyone who’s been stuck there between 5 and 7 p.m. knows it’s slow going,” she said.

A similar project, valued at $3 million according to the current project list, includes improvements to the intersection of Concord Road and South Cobb Drive.

Bacon said the project would include new turn lanes to ease congestion.

“We’ve been reworking Concord Road for several years,” Bacon said. “This is sort of an extension of that project.”

Smyrna City Councilman Corkey Welch, who represents the area, said he drives through the intersection often and noted there are also drainage issues.

“When it rains, the parking lot in front of Dunkin’ Donuts will fill up with three or four inches of water,” Welch said.

The project list, as it currently stands, has $2.5 million allocated for “pedestrian access improvements.” These could include reworked pedestrian crossings on South Cobb Drive and the Spring Street and Hawthorne Avenue railroad crossing.

Taylor said crosswalks will be evaluated for sight lines, possible signal timing changes and curb cuts to improve handicap access.

Another part of the pedestrian project is a multi-use trail on Windy Hill Road from Atlanta Road to Village Parkway.

Though sidewalks and multi-use paths can be considered more of a “want” than a “need” by some,

Welch said they’re needed to attract young people to the city.

“If we want to attract people from Generation X or Generation Y, they are looking for things like this,” Welch said. “They want to be able to walk to the grocery store and to other places like that.”

Anulewicz said walkability has been a major goal of the city for years, adding feedback from residents has been positive.

“If you look at data of what people want when they’re looking at where to move, I think those kinds of sidewalks and trails are huge,” she said. “They are controversial in some parts of Cobb. They have not been controversial in Smyrna.”

Smyrna is projected to receive $35.9 million in the current, four-year SPLOST that runs through December 2015.

A date has not been set for the public hearing to allow citizens to review the projects. Taylor said the city will likely vote on final approval July 21.

The Cobb Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on a final SPLOST project list July 22.

Comments
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Spencer60000
|
June 25, 2014
To Anonymous,

take a look at the results of last years' TSPLOST vote. Cobb wanted nothing to do with that.

Previous SPLOST votes started from a lower sales tax base, and were typically aimed towards schools.

People are fed up with being asked to pay over and over again for poorly conceived and wastefully executed road projects.

I may be wrong, but I think this will be a lot tougher to pass than the powers that be seem to think.
Spencer60000
|
June 24, 2014
I hope they haven't spent that money, since no one if going to vote for a tax hike.

We pay a ton of money in property tax, sales tax, fees and other dollars to Cobb and Smyrna.

If they can't accomplish a few limited requirements (schools, roads, police and fire) on all that revenue, we need to put in people who can.

anonymous
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June 24, 2014
Sorry Spence but a SPLOST tax has never failed in forward thinking Cobb County, your prediction not withstanding. Lets face it, the traffic situation in Cobb is poor and we vote in our interest. If the projects are warrented they will be approved.
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