"We're commited to keeping those quality projects," Tumlin said of such redevelopment efforts as Marietta Walk, Meeting Park and Hedgewood, which have been brought to a halt by the recession.
"A new developer might come in and want us to change them, but I think we're going to keep to the quality," Tumlin said. "Even though we're going to have the temptation maybe to have a lesser project, we're going to hold out to keep quality housing in the city of Marietta."
Tumlin delivered his speech to the Marietta Kiwanis Club, which conducted its meeting to a packed house at the Hilton Marietta Conference Center.
Earl Reece, executive director of the Strand Theatre, said after the speech that he appreciated Tumlin's positive nature.
"I think the positive energy that 'Thunder' Tumlin brings to this position is really refreshing," Reece said.
"I think he had great things to say, great ideas, and I'm actually meeting with him on Monday about some things he's interested in with the museums, and just really about the arts, and he's just a pleasure to know and work with," Reece said.
Tumlin began his speech by referencing all the Marietta police officers in the room.
"It's just delightful to come to a group and have the police come with you," Tumlin said.
"That's a fringe benefit I didn't realize I have. But the city policy is, we like to give 10 minutes' warning. Chief Flynn's going to bring in the drug dogs, so if you have to leave, consider yourself forewarned," he quipped.
Tumlin praised the Marietta Police Department, saying it received $1.6 million in grants in the last few months to hire six new police officers and install portable heart attack equipment in every patrol officer's car.
The city's alarm ordinance, which was implemented to reduce false alarms, has caused a 65 percent drop in alarm calls from 2007 to 2009, which has resulted in officers being freed up to fight real crime. With the role out of Tasers used by police beginning in 2007, officer injuries are down 78 percent and suspect injuries are down 48 percent. Crime in general has seen a 9 percent drop from 2008 to 2009, Tumlin said. Moreover, Marietta police have a 52 percent rate in solving cases compared to the national average, which is between 15 and 20 percent, he said.
Tumlin also praised the Marietta Fire Department for performing so well on a recent inspection that its rating with the New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office was raised to a level enjoyed by only a handful of Georgia's 1,100 fire departments. The improved ranking is supposed to have a monetary effect by lowering insurance premiums for both commercial and residential property owners.
The city is weathering the economic crisis by having staff freezes, no pay raises, no overtime and employees taking on extra responsibilities, he said.
"Property taxes are only 14 percent of our revenue, so we're actually in pretty good shape. The core services that we have are approximately $50 million. We're actually a $250 million a year business because of the SPLOST revenues; the Board of Lights and Water is around a $130/$140 million, so we're a pretty viable organization, and Marietta is probably going to survive the slowdown I think that's coming for more and more governments that we see," he said.
On the topic of transportation, Tumlin said the city's public works department was faithfully carrying out the $62 million in road improvement projects voters approved in the 2005 SPLOST, even though revenues are now expected to come in around $58 million because of the recession.
"The $58 million is a lot of money to spend, and we've done it effectively. You can look on Roswell Street, Fairground Street, South Marietta Parkway, North Marietta Parkway, Powder Springs Street, Kennesaw Avenue, you'll see the street improvements, the sidewalks, the bricks, the brick crossings," he said. "What you're going to see in the future, the last part is going to come as the medians. It's going to be on Roswell Street, Fairground and Powder Springs, which will give the streets more of a boulevard. So starting this summer for the next nine months, we're going to have some roads that are pretty clogged, but we're going to have the boulevard effect when we're through."
Tumlin announced that just this week the city was the recipient of a $3 million grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to be used for road improvements on Franklin Road.
"I saw Sam Olens this morning. He said he got it for us, but I think it was the Marietta staff," Tumlin said.
Tumlin said the city is privileged to have a number of tourism, art and historical-themed organizations on the Square such as the Strand Theatre, Theatre in the Square and Marietta Museum of History.
"A major step in working with these organizations is to open a line of communications where the needs, concerns, and the strengths of all can be shared," he said.
"By bringing in the support and encouragement of the city and the (Downtown Marietta Development Authority), I think that we can help each other maximize our organizations and commitments in making the Square a major tourist destination. By coming together, we can discuss ways to best utilize our various talents to have a coordinated and mutually beneficial approach of attracting tourists. Our goal is to have the best museums, the best theaters and cultural events, the best historical structures, the best conference center, the best trolley system and the support and coordination of the city, DMDA, the Marietta Hilton, the merchants, the museums, theaters, and restaurants, so as to be a viable, competitive tourist destination. By working together, ideas can be discussed and implemented," he said.
To this end, the city must provide encouragement, financial support, promotion and a well-managed Square with adequate parking, quality attractions and a downtown area that is safe for night visits, he said.