To the editor:
Sandy Springs is rapidly becoming just like the city of Atlanta, with dense commercial development. And with that development comes a significant influx in the daily population, resulting in an increased demand for city services.
This is a frequent topic discussed by the 15-member Atlanta Council: How to find funding for the cost of city services due to the increase in daytime population. Over the years, they have explored a myriad of ideas on how to generate enough revenue to pay for the ever-increasing cost of public safety (police, high-rise firefighting, emergency response) traffic signals and public works (street, bridge, sidewalk maintenance).
Unfortunately, years of brainstorming by Atlanta produced nothing more than imposing impact fees, and those have proven to be totally inadequate to provide the required police, fire and public works maintenance. All this occurred while the residential population continued to decline.
[Re: ‘Development could overwhelm Mount Vernon, Peachtree Dunwoody, Abernathy intersection,’ Sandy Springs Reporter, July 11-24], although there are estimates of a net increase of 5,000 parking spaces in the planning documents for this legislation, all of the traffic planning is specific to just this development. Was traffic planning done in a vacuum?
There is no mention of how this increase will be affected and compounded by the huge increase in traffic resulting from State Farm offices on Hammond Drive, and the proposed redevelopment directly west of it on Peachtree Dunwoody across from Concourse.
Nor was there any mention of the impact of traffic from the pending sale and development of the 76-acres of the Mayson and Glen properties on Abernathy, Glenlake Parkway and Glenridge Drive.
I urge you to direct the staff to look beyond just the present circumstances. The planning solutions provided in the attachments are like planting a nice vegetable garden and treating it for insects flying around it while failing to account for the fact that your neighbor is raising rabbits.
With the size, scope and impact of present and future development, it would be appropriate to engage planning services with specific experience in large-scale situations such as these. No one can fault you for knowing when to seek professional help. Due diligence wins every time.
Traffic planning has got to be creative; significant funding will be required. It has to evolve well beyond painting another lane on a bridge and adding some turn lanes. That will not alleviate gridlock nor will it protect neighborhoods from daytime rush hour traffic seeking to cut through residential streets.
To protect neighborhoods, streets may have to be closed. For instance, just as the precedent set by closing Vernon Woods Drive to Roswell Road, Glenridge Drive should be closed at Glenlake Parkway. If not carefully executed, Sandy Springs will end up just like Atlanta.
The best advice I can offer to the mayor and council: Keep in mind that practical considerations frequently outweigh theoretical assumptions.