Bypass story was weak

Dennis Chase's picture

Last week, John Munford wrote an article (“Who needs W. F’ville Bypass?”) that I found very disappointing. Disappointing because Mr. Munford is usually so much better with his work. Not because of anything that was in the article, but because of the bias that was so evident.

Members of the West Fayetteville Bypass Coalition had asked The Fayette Citizen to consider looking at the possibility that Phase II of the proposed road might be driven by behind-the-scenes pressure from developers. We even provided a map similar to what you see in The Citizen article.

The tone of the article makes it sound like it was something John dreamed up to show the Coalition what really was going on.

John includes portions of an interview with Mr. Jack Smith, chairman of the Fayette County Commission. The interview itself is not a problem. It is that John fails to include any balancing responses from myself or other members of the Coalition.

Thus the article reflects almost exclusively material that supports the county. Readers of this article will, if they believe what they read, come away thinking the Coalition members along Phase II are just crying “Not in my Back Yard.”

Those readers would be wrong because John evidently decided to leave out the many points we have been making about our position. He includes some comments from Mr. Smith that are so wrong that it pains me to see John mess this up so badly.

One sentence in particular bothers me and demonstrates what I am saying. Several paragraphs into the article it states, “Smith said most residents he speaks with understand the need for the bypass.”

Several months ago, I had an informal discussion with John Munford at a meeting where he expressed that exact concern about what the Coalition was saying. I informed John that, as far as I knew, there are no Coalition members that oppose having a bypass around Fayetteville.

What they are concerned with is that Fayette County has no study to support traffic going from Ga Highway 85 at Harp Road, crossing Ga. Highway 54 near the hospital and then going across country to Ga. Highway 92 at Westbridge Road.

When we asked the county, “Why here?” they had no answer. I thought John understood this important point, but, despite having this conversation with John, he includes the same words in his article which imply that we are opposed to the bypass.

About all you can really get out of the statements from Mr. Smith is that the county wants to put the road in this general location because that is where they have always wanted to put it. No logical reason, they just want it where they want it.

Most of the remainder of Mr. Smith’s comments in this article could be refuted, and we will do so in front of a federal judge if the county continues with this same planning logic. Our position has always been clear and easy for most people to understand.

In my opinion, we have some elected officials in Fayette County government that have been overdosing on stupid pills if they think the trash they pass along as facts will be acceptable to the citizens of this county.

We were very clear when be rejected their SPLOST initiative, and if they think they are going to share their supply of stupid pills with us on this project, they are wrong.

[Dennis Chase, now retired, was a fish and wildlife biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 26 years. Since retiring, he has worked as a consultant for Fayette County on environmental concerns, is a volunteer with the Environmental Institute of Ga., and has published numerous newspaper columns.]