I am writing to express my concerns regarding the city’s proposed $250 million infrastructure bond currently up for discussion [“Officials want more Buckhead projects on bond list,” Buckhead Reporter, Oct. 3-16].
I like to think that I am a fairly unflappable person, but to say that I am appalled at the city’s proposed list would be a gross understatement.
Of the 305 projects currently under consideration, only seven are in Buckhead north of Wesley Road. The cost for those seven projects aggregate to just over $500,000, or only 0.15 percent of the total amount of projects under consideration.
When one considers that almost 25 percent of the city’s population lives in this area, and 40 percent of the revenue for the city’s budget comes from this area, the fact that just 0.15 percent of the money borrowed by the taxpayers to pay for these projects will be spent on projects in Buckhead is outrageous. (See www.infrastructuremap.org for a list of the 305 projects totaling $332 million currently under consideration.)
As unbelievable as that fact may be, when one looks at the very criteria that the city allegedly consulted to compile this list (prioritizing projects that (1) favor pedestrian and bike facilities, (2) promote public health, (3) leverage state funds, (4) connect to transit, (5) promote green infrastructure, (6) preserve neighborhoods, (7) connection to other projects, and (8) address needs in neighborhood plans) you’d be hard-pressed to make a case that any of the seven projects currently proposed for Buckhead have anything to do with any of the city’s alleged criteria.
Worse still, the great majority of the proposed projects on the list also appear to have little to nothing in common with the city’s criteria. Most projects relate solely to street resurfacing or traffic light replacements for the benefit of vehicular traffic flow (admirable, but hardly “green” or pedestrian/bike friendly). In addition to the street resurfacing projects, $8 million is to modernize city buildings and the city jail, and another $20 million on the list is earmarked to replace three fire stations.
It’s easy to selectively attack any list of public projects, but that isn’t my purpose. My central issue is not with any of these projects in particular, but rather the way it has been assembled.
First, the city does not appear to have followed its own prioritization criteria and has instead proposed a disjointed list of pet projects. This lack of focus deprives the city of getting the biggest “bang for the buck” and opens the city up to accusations of pork-barrel politics.
Second, these projects are not distributed fairly throughout the city. This lack of geographic diversity, no matter what the underlying reasons for it, will needlessly create bitter divisions within our city and almost certainly ensure that the referendum will fail.
I would urge the voters to review the list of projects for themselves carefully and come to their own conclusions. This infrastructure bond could be a critical, city-wide investment in “green” infrastructure that could propel our city into a Top 10 eco-friendly city, or it could be just another series of aimless public job projects favoring certain areas of the city over others.
Daniel R. Weede