New Senoia mayor Owens hopes to extend success beyond downtown area
Councilman Larry Owens is the new mayor-elect in Senoia. Though he has been a part of local politics for nearly a dozen years, The Citizen sat down with Owens last week to get his take on issues affecting the city.
Owens has served on the Senoia City Council for 11 years. The city, especially the downtown area, has changed dramatically during the past decade and Owens said he ran for the mayor’s seat because he wanted to be part of the continuation of that unfolding process.
“I know where we started and the direction we’re headed. And I wanted to continue with that vision,” Owens said Wednesday.
When Owens begins his term as mayor in January he will continue some of the projects already on the drawing board, projects that should come to fruition in the coming years.
One of those involves a partnership with the city and county formed earlier in the year that will establish a 65-acre recreational park with ballfields along Ga. Highway 16 on the city’s west side.
Owens said groundbreaking should happen soon, with a potential completion in spring 2015.
Another project in the works is the realignment of Pylant Street and Hwy. 16. A recognized safety concern for a number of years, the design contract for the project was awarded last month to AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, Inc.
The contract award began the process for the $1.7 million project that will likely take several years to complete. The project involves reconstructing the existing intersection at Hwy. 16 and Pylant Street and replacing the existing bridge over Dead Oak Creek on Pylant Street across from the library.
Citing a potential project, Owens referenced the desire by some to have a cart path connecting Senoia to Peachtree City by way of Rockaway Road.
“I have mixed feelings about it. Some people want it and some don’t,” Owens said.
Initially conceived as a joint project of the city, Coweta County, Peachtree City and Fayette County, the only funds currently available would cover the cost of an engineering study. As is stands today, Coweta has not expressed interest in helping fund the project and the potential participation of Peachtree City and Fayette County may have withered after the November vote on the one-percent sales tax, and the funds that might have accompanied it, failed to pass muster with voters.
“(The cart path project) is something we’ll have to keep an eye on if citizens are interested,” Owens said. “We do need to finish the current path projects we’re already committed to.”
Pertaining to fiscal matters, Owens said the city budget will be tight during the next few years, adding that funds are available to complete the city’s current short-term projects.
Citing his perspective on future development, Owens referenced the need for proper industrial growth, the need to maintain the type of business environment that currently exists downtown and growth along Ga. highways 16 and 85 to include businesses that would not necessarily fit with the downtown area, but without big-box stores.
Owens is one of a number of people in the city to believe that future business development along Hwy. 16 and Hwy. 85 should serve as an extension of the look and feel of the downtown area and should blend well with the Senoia community.
Turning to another topic, Owens said city government needs to find better ways to communicate with citizens.
“I’ve heard that people feel disconnected, so we’re formulating ways to address that after the beginning of the year,” Owens said.
Long range, Owens referenced the components of the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan that includes a variety of future needs.
“We can grow but we need to maintain our hometown feel,” Owens said.
The next 15-20 years will depend on the economy as a whole, said Owens.
“We’ll continue to work with the film industry. The industry has been a great benefit to Senoia,” said Owens.
And Owens noted his longtime support for the Senoia Downtown Development Authority.
“I have always supported the efforts of the DDA and I’ll continue to do that,” said Owens.