There was some interesting discussion at the last mayor and commission meeting:
1. SPLOST 2020 finalized and referendum approved
2. Do we have too many trash haulers in Athens?
3. Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway Corridor Study was debated
Welcome to Athens Politics Nerd where we break down commission meetings to bring you the important local news.
Recently, the mayor and commission finalized SPLOST 2020 – now it’s fate is up to us. They also discussed the inefficiency of private trash haulers and debated a new study that could revolutionize transportation options in Athens.
The SPLOST 2020 project list was approved last month, setting up a referendum on November 5th. If Athenians vote yes, our 1% sales tax for special projects will continue for another 11 years, raising over $300 million dollars.
Jean Spratlin (Clerk of Commission): “9 yes, 1 no.”
This money will fund 37 different projects, including renewable energy generation, an eastside library, broadband connectivity across Athens, and a 5,500 seat arena for the Classic Center.
The arena was a controversial last-minute addition, but we can rest assured that the jobs it creates will pay living wages, something which was requested by the commission. Commissioner Tim Denson also fought to include a childcare facility in the structure, to assist working parents.
Too Many Trash Haulers?
Moving on to solid waste collection, which became an issue at this month’s commission meeting. Commissioner Russell Edwards proposed Riverbend Parkway’s trash pickup be handled by the county instead of by private haulers, which sparked an interesting conversation.
Commissioner Alison Wright: “I look forward to this, moving forward, and our community learning that this is possible. It could motivate other clusters, and neighborhoods, to also move forward with this idea.”
Commissioner Patrick Davenport: “A lot of us in our communities want the same thing. I think we need to take a holistic approach, instead of taking a singular approach.”
Commissioner Jerry NeSmith: “Yeah, I agree. I hope we can come up with a holistic approach very soon, because we’ve got some haulers who just aren’t doing the work. They’re just failing, week by week by week.”
Trash is picked up by the county within the old Athens city limits, but outside that area it quickly becomes a free-for-all of competing private haulers. This causes unnecessary noise and can even be dangerous, because not every resident living on any one street will have the same hauler. With multiple trucks coming and going at all hours, Riverbend residents and others have gotten fed up.
Riverbend Resident: “There are eight trucks roaring through our neighborhood. And since there’s only one entrance, it becomes a round trip. That means 16 passes of trucks weighing as much as 56,000 pounds each, and each getting about 2.8 miles to the gallon. That’s a lot of waste, for a little bit of waste.”
Some feel that the public system should provide trash pickup to the whole county. Others have suggested a zone system, with one private hauler being given a monopoly in each zone. The local government is wondering what your opinion is, you can tell them at a series of open house meetings coming soon. There’s also an online survey at accgov.com/collectionsurvey – go ahead and give them a piece of your mind!
Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway Corridor Study
Also at this meeting, the commission accepted a detailed study of the Lexington Road and Atlanta Highway corridors. It included a total of 52 recommendations, such as reconfiguring some major intersections, redesigning Georgia Square Mall, enhanced bike and pedestrian infrastructure including miles of multi-use paths, and many public transit improvements such as implementing queue jumping lanes and building additional transit hubs beyond the multi-modal center. I have to say, I think this study is amazing and I look forward to it being implemented!
Commissioner Mariah Parker: “I think there’s a lot to be excited about: things like queue-jumping, transfer hubs, so that it’s easier to transfer between buses.”
Commissioner Russell Edwards: “Multi-use paths are a great asset; an amenity for our community. They connect residents, create a more vibrant democracy, encourage exercise, allow safe places for children to play and for the elderly to navigate, so I’m very much in favor of this plan.”
Commissioner Patrick Davenport: “The project also includes suggestions for the airport. I think it’s a wonderful plan.”
However, not all commissioners felt the same way.
Commissioner Jerry NeSmith: “In fact, there are some recommendations in here that I could probably never support.”
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Mayor and Commission Voting Session (August 6, 2019)
Mayor and Commission Special Called Session (July 18, 2019)
Queue Jump (for buses)
Our neighborhood Trash Truck. Did You Know Children Love Trash Trucks Amazing!