Thanks to a good deal of belt tightening and planning on the part of the council, Peachtree City’s economic structure is, according to its new mayor, in better shape than it has been in some time.
Mayor Vanessa Fleisch, in one of the first official functions of her term, appeared before the Peachtree City Rotary Club on Thursday to present what has become an annual event - the state of the city talk.
“We’ve made some tremendous strides over the past couple of years.
“Despite the tough economic times, the city has maintained its AAA bond rating. As you may know, this is truly an achievement and proves that we are indeed on solid financial footing moving forward.
“As a city we need to continue on this path of financial vigilance, but we cannot forget that we have paid dearly for budget cuts that resulted in little to no routine maintenance around the city for years. With that in mind we’ve made some significant strides in restoring regular maintenance to our facilities.
“Public works and our storm water crews are hard at work and it is my hope that they will be more visible to the public. Over the next few months we have projects that are being initiated to improve our storm water infrastructure at both Kedron Ponds and the Rockspray dam. These are necessary projects that have unfortunately been put off for years. Last year we approved a bond to cover the expense of these projects and it is time we get them started. “
Fleisch pointed out the start of rehabilitation work on the ponds and dams along Kedron Drive, noting that the process would be ongoing for several months.
“I hope that the sight of our crews and contractors working around town will serve as a reminder of our ongoing commitment to improving both the aesthetics and infrastructure of our beautiful city.
She also reminded the assembly of the three ‘notable’ ribbon cuttings that occured in 2013- McIntosh Place, which took one of the city’s office buildings and turned it into a new facility for seniors, cementing the city’s partnership with Fayette Senior Services; the Glenloch Recreation Center, which had been long-neglected and was now sporting a lot more than a new coat of paint- “the tennis courts, basketball court, ball fields and gyms at that facility have all received much needed attention over this past year”; and the new Welcome Center next to the Fred Brown Jr. Amphitheater, run by the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I am also pleased to report on how well our sports tournament initiative is going. Over the past year, I have witnessed an increase in cooperation within the city staff, sports associations, and the county recreation department. The Peachtree Fayette Sports Alliance is an outgrowth of that spirit of cooperation between all of these entities.
“The recreation staff and the CVB are dedicated to making this initiative work. We are still at the beginning stages and will have our successes and challenges, but already we have gotten the attention of major promoters who are prepared to bring quality events to our community.
“One such national event is the Diva Marathon, which will take place here in September. The projected economic revenue from this event alone is estimated to be approximately four million dollars for a single weekend. “
She also noted that the city had found alternative and additional uses for the facilites and “are at the beginning stages of utilizing them to their highest potential while not forgetting that these are city owned facilities for the use of our citizens.
This endeavor has been a win for the city and for our hotels which are a partner in this project and are a vital part of our business community.”
Fleisch also pointed out that the amphitheater finances are in the black after years of operating at a loss.
“This year the Huey Lewis concert set a record for generating the most revenue for a single concert. The Fred will celebrate its 20 year anniversary with a great Summer Concert Series marking this event.”
The airport has entered into an agreement with the city to help subsidize airport operations; however there is a provision in the agreement that provides for a gradual weaning off of city hotel/motel tax funds. This was something that had been discussed by others for years but never accomplished. This past year the agreement was signed.
“With the economy improving a bit we have also seen an uptick in business investment in the city: The Braelinn Kroger will expand an additional 40,000 square feet
Calpis America is building a manufacturing facility and offices with a significant capital investment. Calpis is a Japanese company and this manufacturing facility will make probiotic additives for animal feed.
Alta Refrigeration is scheduled to add almost 200,000 square feet to its current location. Westpark Walk is getting a new look as well.
“On the south side of the city, The Gates is a residential community that will come online.
“The Somerby senior project’s first phase was completed and they are scheduled to begin the next phase sometime this year. Land on the east side of the city on highway 54 was annexed into the City.
The Hearthside Senior apartments were started off of Georgian Park and are close to completion.”
Fleisch also noted that the staff position the council created last year for the Fayette County Development Authority has been busy promoting business and retention projects.
“That effort is working very well. We also established a grant program to promote and retain business. Panasonic was the first recipient of the jobs grant. Panasonic has been steadily adding engineering jobs to its Peachtree City facility over the past two years. The company cited the grant as one of the factors in bringing the jobs here rather than to one of its other locations. I am thankful that this grant is now reaping a benefit for the city.”
She also pointed out that an independent evaluation of both the polie and fire departments conducted during a three month period in 2013 showed that “the challenges of the past have been dealt with and both departments are moving forward, continuing to serve the citizens of this city. Both of our departments have served us well and each have received accolades from their respective professional organizations.
I have a great respect for the service both our fire and police departments give to our community.”
She told Rotarians there will be more maintentance and rejuvenation of the city’s facilities and the staff is compling a list of necessary proejcts to be funded by a new facilities bond, covering high profile projects are improvements to the heavily used park at Battery Way and the addition of electricity to Drake Field “so that we can have more community oriented events at that beautiful central location.”
Since the summer movie-on-the-lawn series was so popular, the city plans on building on the momentum to hold more community events.
“We have established a good working relationship with the Georgia Department of Transportation to alleviate the traffic issues along highway 54. Within a few months, Peachtree City will be the first city in our region to have a Traffic Responsive System installed.
“This system is being funded by a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission. The DOT realizes that this isn’t a magic bullet for our traffic issues, but this system is a step in the right direction. The DOT thinks that a study of the entire area is warranted and has offered their help in assisting the city in determining the scope of a traffic study for the 54 west corridor.”
Also, in 2014, a new recreational master plan is being developed.
“We have 416 acres of facilities across the city and it is important to get the highest and best use out of those facilities.”
The Recreation and Special Events Advisory Board should have that completed by the spring of this year. The results of the evaluation will help to determine the future direction of our facilities.
“Finally, I think it is important to mention that your elected officials are starting off 2014 with a new sense of cooperation and dedication; representing you and our beautiful city in a positive, professional manner. While we may not all agree on every point, I think we have a team that can set a direction for staff and focus on maintaining what we love about this wonderful community.”