No cuts required
The following is taken from an e-mail message Dist. 4 council member Ashley Jenkins sent to constituents in advance of the City Council meeting Nov. 18.
As you know, the city is considering purchase of the old Target on Johnson Ferry/Sandy Springs Circle for a future City Hall complex. If we decide to purchase this property, the city must close on the property in December.
Basics of the purchase are:
• Eight acres for $8 million.
• This is only for the Target building and the associated parking. This does not include the Goodwill building or the Goodwill parking.
Where is the cash coming from for the purchase? Will this delay any project in our budget?
We have been setting aside money for facilities purchases in every budget, so we currently have $5.5 million in that line item. Additionally, we had set aside $2.5 million in a discretionary fund that was not allocated in fiscal 2009 budget. We have the $8 million for the purchase without cutting back any projects.
Why is the city looking at this site? Has the city looked at other sites?
This site is uniquely situated in the middle of Sandy Springs. It has access from Mount Vernon, Sandy Springs Circle and Johnson Ferry. It is in the heart of what the Comprehensive Plan designated “Downtown Sandy Springs.” It is close to Heritage Green. It is also in an area that could use some encouragement for redevelopment.
The city has looked at other sites, but they were not available, they were too expensive, or there were access issues.
Do we need a City Hall in downtown Sandy Springs? What is wrong with the Morgan Falls office complex?
That is what we need to hear from you!
The intangibles of a City Hall complex are that it creates a sense of community. We are a new city, but it feels as if we are still a collection of strip malls and subdivisions with nothing to point to that unites us as a city.
Smyrna (where my husband grew up) used to be the same collection of subdivisions and strip malls. Once they created a downtown, that city has taken on an identity of its own. Instead of people saying they are from Vinings or Smynings, people say they are from Smyrna. Housing prices have risen around the downtown, and more businesses have come into the downtown area to take advantage of the synergy that the City Hall complex created.
Fix other woes first
The following responds to Ashley Jenkins.
Thank you for asking me for the opinion of my very small family (my daughter and myself) regarding the City Hall project.
I am going to give my answer based on the mutual interest of the community and picturing myself being part of building this project for the future of this population.
The location of the old Target is great for the following reasons:
1. For the security aspect, you have a fire station close.
2. I agree it is in the center of Sandy Springs and very accessible to all residents.
3. It will shape tremendously the look of Sandy Springs and convert it completely.
4. It will benefit many properties
But you have serious issues for the many families, business owners and employees of those businesses regarding the growth of Sandy Springs, and they must be solved first:
1. With the exception of a few police officers and police station employees, you have a contaminated Police Department.
2. You have the serious traffic flow problem and extreme issues with traffic lights.
3. You will have to expand the roads and/or change from two-way lanes to one-way lanes and redirect the traffic flow.
4. Also, I strongly believe that with the economic situation, it will be much better to continue saving for at least five more years and have a bigger budget surplus to create a much better sense of security for the employees of the city and to dedicate better pay and obtain much better quality police officers.
You can have a house that is worth millions, but if you do not have a home inside, the whole package is worthless.
I would wait, solve the problems, gain back the confidence of the community — the residents, employees, business owners, visitors, tourists, etc. — then build with pride.
Economy too shaky
To the editor:
With the economic disaster that we are all facing, I do not know why the city would purchase the Target site to build a city hall and drain the taxpayers’ money. We are not ready for an expenditure of that amount.
Right site for city
To the editor:
I think the Target location is a wonderful site for City Hall. I believe that was the original preferred site. I hope the city will be able to utilize the current building and plan for a new structure at some later date when the financial situation is in better shape. I for one don’t want to see any tax increase in the current climate.
Pick CityWalk instead
To the editor:
I think the city should not buy the Target site. If the largest benefit from the location is proximity to Heritage Green, why not solve two problems? The CityWalk shopping center has been sitting half-vacant for more than a year. Take that space and use it for City Hall. It makes sense: CityWalk, City Hall; it is in the city center; and the heritage center is right there.
Just a thought.