Storm warnings on West Bypass funds
Sunny skies earlier in the day on Thursday had me smiling until the storms came through. We had one storm on the outside and another storm in the Board of Commissioners meeting in Fayette County.
Just like the day had begun, the commissioners meeting began with a ray of sunshine with the story of Ms. Athena Schwantes and her trials as she had tried since 2007 to obtain a homestead exemption from the Fayette County government. Ms. Schwantes’ husband was a firefighter for the city of Atlanta [who] died in the line of duty in 2006. A state voter referendum was passed in 2006 giving a county homestead exemption to widows and children of firefighters who died in the line of duty.
The end result was warm and sunny as the commissioners voted unanimously to award Ms. Schwantes the homestead exemption from 2009 forward. No, it wasn’t exactly what she wanted; the county made some mistakes, but the commissioners helped her as much as they legally could. It felt good.
It was AFTER that sunny moment the storm started rumbling inside the Fayette County Commissioners meeting.
Next on the Board of Commissioners agenda was the consent agenda portion of the meeting.
During that portion of the agenda three of the five commissioners approved over $241,000 funds linked to the West Fayette Bypass project.
Things grew darker with the new business items section and the storm got worse. Of the six new business items, three items were related to the West Fayetteville Bypass projects. Another $383,000 was allocated toward the growing bypass effort.
The total of these agenda sections total over $625,000 spent towards the West Fayette Bypass.
As always, two commissioners voted no to these projects and three commissioners approved the funds with no justification for the road to nowhere.
Commissioner Brown spoke up several times stating his desire to have these items removed as he was not voting for the West Fayette Bypass to move forward. Each time the county taxpayers sitting in the meeting gave a thunderous applause. The third round of applause brought down a bang of the gavel from Chairman Herb Frady who opposed the expression of clapping by the group.
It is abundantly clear Chairman Frady, Commissioner Lee Hearn and Commissioner Robert Horgan are trying to speed up the construction of the developer friendly West Fayetteville Bypass so no one will be able to stop it.
Steve Brown requested he would like to attend the once a month meetings where the West Fayetteville Bypass is discussed. The county administrator stated that two members of the commission were allowed in these meetings. Brown replied, “I’d like to be one of the two.” Commissioner Hearn and Chairman Frady were the only two allowed.
It’s fascinating that when Commissioner Brown asked to attend the meetings that Frady began saying he didn’t think commissioners should even attend those committee meetings.
My question to Mr. Frady is, “How are the commissioners supposed to figure out what is going on? How would the commissioners learn or know what to research on the subjects at hand?”
I have to worry because Commissioner Hearn was the only commissioner at the committee meeting and his relatives own land near the bypass. How can I feel comfortable with that scenario?
Everyone is wondering why the three commissioners would fight so hard for a road no one wants. For example, in a one on one conversation with Commissioner Hearn, he stated, “Where the West Fayette Bypass is concerned I will always vote yes. I’ve heard all I care to hear about it and don’t wish to hear any more. My mind is made up and it will not be changed.”
In that discussion, Randy Ognio tried to reason with Hearn about this, saying no traffic report has been done on the West Fayette Bypass. Mr. Ognio travels early morning and evening during most heavy traffic times, north to south, through Fayette County.
When Hearn was asked, “Why would you vote for a road that moves east to west when your heaviest traffic is north to south?” Mr. Hearn stated there have been no studies and it cannot be proved that is true. Mr Ognio replied, “That’s my point. We need traffic studies done. I drive it and I know!”
In Fayette County, the citizens have endured a constant severe political thunderstorm for the past several years with no transparency, no justification for expensive road projects and no voice for the taxpayers. Our flood gauge of discontent is very high. We the people need to “flood” the commissioners meeting on June 9 to let the commissioners know how we feel.
We have a three-man tornado sucking up our tax dollars and bowling down anyone that gets in the way. The West Fayetteville Road to Nowhere should not continue.
Those wasted tax dollars, benefiting large land and development interests, should go towards paying our county debts and tax relief instead.
This storm has been brewing for a couple of years and we, the citizen taxpayers, are about to end up all wet unless we act. Be there on June 9 at 7 p.m.