Reconsider city center plans
To the editor:
I have been a Sandy Springs resident for 41 years and I am active within the community. In my personal opinion, Sandy Springs can benefit from the construction of a place where local government offices are headquartered and where people are provided a place to connect, recreate and celebrate Sandy Springs. However, when planning such a project, we must carefully balance community needs with the negative impacts unbridled development has on the community.
Above all, city leaders must exercise extreme financial responsibility when planning such a project, especially during uncertain economic times. We should not consider a plan we cannot afford. Period.
Many Sandy Springs citizens are confused over plans for the future city center, especially when significant project details are changed without public input or notification. In my opinion, city leaders should be clear, honest and open about city center’s plans. When significant changes to the plan are necessary, the public should at least be notified, if not asked for approval.
A precarious situation of the city playing roles of property owner, developer, plan approver, code enforcer and landlord is made more questionable when details are changed behind closed doors.
I support the planning and construction of a smaller city center that accommodates the needs of the city government, some local county government offices, and a limited amount of space for public meetings, presentations, storage and perhaps library space. Perhaps the inclusion of a limited amount of supportive retail or living space is possible, but not without consideration of traffic and infrastructure impacts. If such a facility’s success leads to the need for future expansion, that is possible, assuming it is approved by the public and it is financially affordable.
I do not support the planning of an over-sized, unnecessary, outrageously expensive city center project spanning from Johnson Ferry Road to the Perimeter. In my opinion, we do not need, nor do we want, a huge city center that includes a 1,000-plus seat performance auditorium, four or five five-story apartment buildings and a plethora of retail and business establishments within a relatively small footprint area.
Please do not over build a project that results in more than the city needs, wants or can effectively afford, especially during a shaky economy.
I encourage you to act responsibly and refrain from spending the city’s financial reserves on this project — or worse, go into debt over it. There are many worthwhile projects in need of funding, not just the city center. And much of the area’s retail, living and business space is currently vacant, so why do we need such a large-scale project?
A “build it and they will come” mentality is dangerous in today’s economic environment. Furthermore, current traffic congestion, infrastructure, quality of life and storm water issues place pressure on surrounding neighborhoods. Adding significant construction issues and thousands of cars and people to this high-density area is irresponsible. Neighboring property values will certainly be impacted by such a large scale project, as will quality of life.
I challenge each city leader to thoroughly research and re-evaluate the Sandy Springs city center plans. Please consider scaling down the project to one that better fits the neighborhood atmosphere that is so attractive to the residents of this area.
Most residents are open to the idea of building a city center — within reason. However, in doing so, we must preserve the local neighborhood integrity while responsibly protecting our finances, infrastructure, watersheds, natural environment and way of life.
The Abernathy Greenway & CityWalk are two examples of developments supported by Sandy Springs leaders that were oversold and under-delivered to our neighborhoods. Each took significantly longer and cost significantly more than was planned, and both projects negatively impacted our neighborhoods.
Let’s work together to prevent future negative impacts by incorporating the community voice into a development plan that is environmentally, socially and economically feasible.
Cindy S. Mayer
Who’s behind the arts center project?
To the editor:
It appears to me that there are a lot more citizens concerned about the cost, the need, and the traffic ramifications of a large performing arts center. Who is behind this project, and why?
The governing body of Sandy Springs needs to start listening to its citizens and addressing their concerns rather than create their own agenda!! Stop spending money for the sake of spending it!