Some publications just look back and say: “That was the way it was.” At the Sandy Springs Reporter we look back at what was and ask: “What will that mean in 2009?”
In no particular order, these are a few of the items that made news in 2008 and likely will continue to do so this year:
• A public dog park. It seemingly took all year to make the decision to locate the dog park at Morgan Falls. Now in 2009 we are back discussing where dogs will be allowed to roam unleashed.
• Retooling police. A scandal involving gifts to police and “an elaborate private training session” (not to forget massages) brings the city a new police chief and deputy chief, a new set of rules, and a yet-to-be-instituted zone system. A new day at the Police Department has dawned. Will it become sunnier during 2009?
• Hosed by Atlanta water. The 21 percent fee Atlanta adds to Sandy Springs residents’ water rates is “the most aggravating thing I deal with,” Mayor Eva Galambos says. The city’s sewer service comes from Fulton County, but Sandy Springs subsidizes Atlanta’s sewer system through the water rates its citizens pay. Will the city try to change this situation for 2009?
• A plan cast in stone? The city adopted a Comprehensive Plan for development in 2007, then proceeded to override it again and again in 2008. Will the Comprehensive Plan gain new meaning in 2009 or continue to be a blueprint to nothing?
• Dwindling tax rolls. The city bought the 8-acre former Target store site at Johnson Ferry Road and Sandy Springs Circle for a future City Hall. But Sandy Springs likely won’t build that City Hall for several years. Meanwhile, there will be no real estate taxes collected on the property and no sales tax collections either. The city also lost taxable property with Holy Spirit Preparatory School’s purchase of its athletic site at Lake Forrest Drive and I-285. How might such moves affect the city’s budget and budget surplus in 2009 and beyond?
• Signs of progress? During 2008 the CityWalk shopping center suffered more losses in terms of tenants, and merchants continued to complain that the center’s management was not responsive to their needs — primarily for better signage to direct potential shoppers to their stores. At the end of the year, the center got a new management team that at least is meeting and talking with the merchants, but still the signage issue is unresolved. With the mayor helping to prod the process, maybe some of the merchants’ concerns will get addressed in 2009. We may see some real signs of progress.
• Do you feel safer? After a year of study in 2008 and a final decision to create a 911 center in conjunction with Johns Creek, we might actually see an operational city-run 911 system in 2009. Say goodbye to Fulton County once more.
• Image enhancement. Sandy Springs has made attempts to add festivals and events and even some decorations here and there to help create the image of a friendly, caring city. Some of those attempts have fallen a bit flat compared with what surrounding cities have to offer. In 2009, we need to take a long hard look at the Taste of Sandy Springs, Sandy Springs Festival, Blues & Bluegrass Festival, bike races and even our holiday decorations with an eye toward making those things first-class. Sandy Springs is not a small town. Let’s not be doing things in a small-town way.
• The mayor’s health. Mayor Galambos apparently has won her 2008 bout with cancer and says she feels good. But will her health become an issue as city elections approach in 2009, when she has indicated she plans to run again?
We can all look forward to an interesting, if not exciting, 2009.
Happy new year!