Senoia residents get their say on city's future

CUTLINE - The Senoia Downtown Development Authority held its customary town hall meeting Aug. 13 to solicit suggestions on city services and business ventures that residents would like to see in the future. Residents used dots to vote for their favorite suggestions after providing a list of 36 suggestions. Photo/Ben Nelms.

It only happens in Senoia. Following a course established eight years ago by the Senoia Downtown Development Authority (DDA), residents on Tuesday night filled the Freeman Sasser building at the Seavy Street Park to have their say on what the city might look like in the future.

Cities and counties in Georgia have periodic public meetings to formulate 20-year comprehensive plans or land use and transportation plans. So does Senoia, but the DDA goes beyond those by offering residents a venue every other year to express their thoughts and vote on the city services and business ventures they would like to see in the coming years.

As noted by City Administrator Richard Ferry at the outset of the meeting, some of the past suggestions such as having a downtown restaurant, improvements in public safety and establishing golf cart paths have come to fruition.

While obvious that the city cannot ensure that a certain type of business will open, the mayor and council do take the topics relating to city services seriously and incorporate some of those suggestions into the comprehensive plan and 1-percent sales tax initiatives.

As usual, the meeting was structured so that residents gave suggestions on what they would like to see. Those suggestions were listed on large pieces of paper and hung on the walls so that citizens could attached six peel-off dots to vote for their favorite projects.

Topping the list this year with 31 votes was the request to have a public swimming pool and therapy pool located on city property.

Coming in second with 27 votes was the desire to have an old-fashioned movie theater in the downtown area. As Ferry noted earlier, that suggestion is one that will require private funding.

The third top vote-getter, with 26 votes, was to have railroad tracks in the city repaired and made less bumpy. While a timely suggestion, the reality is that such improvements are solely in the hands of the railroads and are historically difficult to bring about.

Rounding out the top five with 18 votes each were having more shade trees around the city and funding a position for a “Better Hometown” manager.

A sampling of other suggestions included having the city buy vacant lots downtown for parks, expanding the number of sidewalks, establishing a miniature golf course and driving range, connecting golf cart paths to Peachtree City, having the Welcome Center open each day of the week, increasing the amount of signage on Ga. highways 16 and 85 to direct visitors to the downtown area and installing a speaker system downtown for community events.

Ferry during the meeting noted the process that brings viable suggestions to reality.

“Some (suggestions) are in the works, some depend on the mayor and council and especially on available funding and others depend on private enterprise,” Ferry said. “This meeting isn’t where the conversation ends, it’s where it starts.”