Village’s ‘decay’ tied to Ben Carter

To the editor:

This responds to your article “The Streets’ slowdown isn’t a shutdown” in the April 3-16 issue. I take issue with the author’s pejorative phrase “what was once the decaying Buckhead Village.”

Certainly, immediately before the massive demolition, the word “decaying” applied to the area. It was a result of property owners and leaseholders, aware of an impending change in the area (and big purchase checks from Ben Carter Properties or agents), no longer investing in their infrastructure in the way one would a going concern. Clearly, that area of the village was older than development around it, but it is unfair to call it “decaying” without recognizing Mr. Carter and his associates’ role in the decay.

Until a critical mass of businesses began closing their doors, the village remained a strong draw for Buckhead residents, workers, the metro area at large and visitors from around the world. In many people’s eyes, the village, with its collection of shops, dining and nightlife, was one of their most iconic images of Atlanta. What we had, simply put, was pretty nice.

Now we have a big hole in the ground. We have empty promises from Ben Carter Properties. When construction was taking place, we had traffic inconvenience as a result. Let’s just call it a big mess.

The question I would ask you to consider is, but not for Ben Carter, what would the village look like today? Probably not the “Rodeo Drive of the South.” But if business owners and investors saw a long-term viability, probably a continued influx of new, exciting storefronts and continued investment in successful existing concerns, not “decay” and certainly not a hole in the ground.

As a homeowner nearby, I wish Ben Carter Properties the best. What is good for Buckhead is good for me. I’m just not sure what we are going to get on top of that big hole in the ground or when we will get it.

Dave Arlinghaus

Outsiders would save city

To the editor:

Significantly increasing water fees are endemic to the city’s Department of Watershed Management, and the problem transcends meter size. The solution is outsourcing or independent professional oversight.

Four years ago, several professional engineers, members of the Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation, offered to do a pro bono value engineering of the water infrastructure contracts, which then totaled $3.2 billion. The offer was summarily dismissed by the mayor. Today, the cost of the water infrastructure contracts exceeds $4 billion.

The concept of outsourcing or independent, professional oversight should apply not only to the water infrastructure contracts, but also to the city pension funds, the city Finance Department, the city fleet management, the city airport management, the city recreational facilities and parks, the city’s road maintenance, etc.

Without outsourcing or independent, professional oversight, the city will continue to operate in a deficit mode.

John S. Sherman, president
Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation