More than 50 Sandy Springs residents at a May 11 meeting appeared ready to vote “all of the above” on the city’s list of potential projects to fund with a special transportation sales tax (T-SPLOST).
The T-SPLOST would be a five-year sales tax increase of up to 0.75 percent in all of Fulton County except the city of Atlanta. Barring any procedural problems, voters will decide on the tax on the Nov. 8 ballot. The county projects that Sandy Springs’ share of T-SPLOST funds would be $101 million.
The city has a list of existing and new projects that could be accelerated by that kind of funding, ranging from general road maintenance to the groundwork for a possible alternative mass transit system such as trolleys or monorails.
At the May 11 city meeting at Heritage Sandy Springs on Blue Stone Road, residents weighed on the list by voting via stickers on boards. The categories were “strongly disagree,” “strongly agree” and “no opinion.”
Every item appeared to get a majority “agree” vote, even controversial plans to design a widening of Hammond Drive and to rebuild the Mount Vernon Highway/Johnson Ferry Road intersection with dual roundabouts (though the latter drew the most “disagrees,” and residents of the Mount Vernon Towers senior residence there continue to oppose the plan and its T-SPLOST inclusion, according to attorney Scott Jacobson). A “Last Mile Connectivity” trail plan that includes right of way for future alternative mass transit drew exclusively “agree” votes.
Write-in comments were accepted as well, with residents suggesting various new sidewalks, new roads and new lanes on existing roads. “I’m more interested in the comments,” said City Council member John Paulson, explaining that residents might think of something city government didn’t. He laughed in pleased surprise as some residents began sticker-voting on the comment list.
One resident who declined to give his name said he’d like to see more downtown transportation alternatives—maybe golf carts, a circulator trolley or a bike “share” (rental) program. His biggest wish was that MARTA had an east-west Perimeter route.
“It’s a shame they couldn’t do this 30 years ago,” the resident said. “It’s almost [like] you gotta do the crazy monorail idea.”
Mayor Rusty Paul said that the city is fielding pitches from a variety of alternative transportation outfits, including a bike-share company. Some of those may be enabled by the T-SPLOST projects, he said.
“A bike share on Roswell Road right now would be more of a suicide pact than a mode of transportation,” the mayor said, adding that it will be a different story after the city builds out its intended multi-use trail system.
The city will have more resident votes to compile before a presentation at the May 17 City Council meeting. Homeowners association leaders sticker-voted at a May 10 meeting, and another community meeting with the same presentation and sticker-voting is slated for May 12 at City Hall. Residents also can visit the city’s website to get an overview of the T-SPLOST process, view the proposed project list and cast their votes on a more nuanced five-choice survey.
The city must submit a T-SPLOST project list to the county by May 30 as part of the ballot question process.