By Amy Wenk
The city of Sandy Springs held two hearings June 2 and 9 at which the public was invited to speak about the proposed $82.5 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Roads were the most discussed issue by the 10 people who spoke at the two hearings.
The City Council will hold another budget public hearing at 6 p.m. June 16, after which the council may pass the new budget.
City officials have prioritized pavement management since the city was incorporated, but the $24.5 million worth of work to date has focused on repaving 64 miles of streets and hasn’t touched the area’s worst roadways.
“Absolutely one of the worst,” said Public Works Director Angelia Parham, is North Island Terrace. Five homeowners from the cul-de-sac, including Andy Malcolm, who first brought the issue up to the council at a May 19 meeting, attended the June 9 hearing.
“This really is a safety issue,” said Burt Jones, who came to the podium with wife Laura. The Joneses are building a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified home on the road.
Laura told the council she was asked to be a stop on the city’s tourism tour but was not sure how the bus would even travel the badly deteriorated North Island Terrace.
Emanuel Fialkow, father of four children ages 5 to 13, will be moving to the street and said his active children need a safe road to play.
But the street is plagued with potholes and cracks.
“They are outdoor kids. They are very loud, and they like to have fun,” Fialkow said. The road “needs to be corrected. I hope you consider the safety factor first.”
But it is more expensive to rebuild a road then to repave it. Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny estimated the city’s proposed 2010 allocation of about $5 million for the paving program would resurface 16 miles of roads. If the money were split equally between repaving and rebuilding, the same money would address eight miles.
McEnerny said the reconstruction of North Island Terrace alone would cost about $750,000.
But the council still expressed interest in beginning to address road reconstruction in the new budget year. Mayor Eva Galambos even suggested allocating more money to the pavement program.
Parham also announced the city re-conducted a scientific study of Sandy Springs’ roads in April and May. The results are being tabulated, and the rating established when the study was last conducted in December 2005 will be revised (see more about this at www.reporternewspapers.net in the May 29 article “City yet to address worst roads”).
Another popular topic was the lower-floor renovation of Heritage Sandy Springs’ Bluestone Building.
Three people spoke in favor of the city’s $1.825 million allocation for the project. City officials have been hesitant to fully endorse the investment and have discussed the issue at length throughout the budget process (see story on page 7).
Other speakers included Patty Berkovitz, the president of the Long Island Creek Watershed Preservation Association, who questioned the city’s cost and use of herbicides at the Morgan Falls Overlook Park.
Another resident expressed concern about the fire coverage of Fire Station 1 and asked the council to expand service for the area.