When Sandy Springs citizens voted in 2005 to incorporate, comments I heard from fellow residents on why were basically the same — enhance our fire, police and EMS services; safeguard our relatively quiet area and have control over expenditures to avoid unnecessary taxpayer obligations. We felt Fulton County wasn’t listening or providing services commensurate with the tax dollars we contributed.
We wanted better safety services, traffic control, parks and stormwater protection. Everyone applauded government renting space versus the “normal business” of expensive brick and mortar with its big chunk from city resources.
Nowhere in the discussion did I hear the following: encourage development that adds to our traffic congestion, compete with neighboring communities for regional/national theater productions/audience, buy up long-established small businesses to build a city center at a cost projected up to $196 million or approve development which encroaches on our beautiful forests and negatively impacts our many streams. Yet the latter is what is now being proposed.
Although Mayor Rusty Paul said there is support for a 750- to 1,000-seat performing arts center, that is not consistent with the reactions I’ve read in the Nextdoor [online neighborhood social network] from citizens in [Sandy Springs City Council] District 3 or Robert Berger, who wants better traffic control, not a performing arts center development aimed to bring in more.
Unless citizens say, “Whoa, we didn’t sign on for this. This wasn’t our vision and it isn’t what we want,” we will get an unwelcome change to the landscape of the city we voted to protect.