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Letters to the Editor - 1.13.19
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Public needs more input into Creek project

Editor:

It is my wish to discuss the Creek on the Blue Mile project, which was conceived without thinking about secondary effects and without input from the people of Statesboro. 

One of the main talking points regarding the project is that it is necessary for flood control. Little Lotts Creek, as far as I can tell, has never flooded since the current ditch was installed, the intended purpose of the ditch is to prevent overflowing. 

The flood image that is on the creek website is a stock photo from the CDC 2014 Flood Safety Awareness Week. The only part of the proposed park susceptible to flooding is private bottomland where the creek is not buttressed by concrete walls. The flood map on the feasibility study shows flood controls are already in place to protect property further down the creek.

The amount of talk about flood control is disproportionate to the project and it points to a potential ulterior motive: eminent domain. The flood control motive could be used to justify the use of eminent domain to seize private property, and, if carried out, an abuse of just not of the rights of property owners, but a dangerous precedent that threatens all Bulloch citizens. 

It would not be a problem if the property owners agree to sell, which could happen, but it is concerning how the property issue is completely ignored on the website and feasibility report. The “committee” even has put a target on private property in their video. If this small group is given the power to take the land from a family that has been here since the founding of the town, then what hope does an average person have if the group sets their cross hairs on a less fortunate property owner?

The current plan is for construction of numerous buildings. Will the government build them, or will a private entity? The plan is for some to be built on public land, so who will control or own them? 

If the government does, then why is the city offering direct competition to free enterprise? Is the Blue Mile Foundation using taxpayer money? What if the units cannot be filled? 

The city has already bought many properties throughout Statesboro. There are many vacant buildings in downtown, which can hardly sustain a restaurant or a store. A restaurant on the Blue Mile just shut its doors. Has anyone considered the low-income areas around the proposed site and how that will affect use? What happens when there is a drought and the creek dries up? 

Frederick is successful because their creek is many times larger than Little Lotts. Frederick’s population is more than 52,000, while Statesboro is currently near 30,000. Frederick’s average family income is $77,000, while Statesboro’s is $35,000. Also, Frederick is a suburb of Baltimore and Washington. 

Has anyone asked for this project besides the group orchestrating it? 

To make it palpable to the public, someone said that 750 new jobs and $100 million would be created, numbers so ridiculously high that they are obviously not grounded in reality and until a study is cited, it should be assumed that the numbers are wrong. (Maybe the Carl Vinson Institute could conduct a study. I would not propose that GSU do it as they could be influenced by the committee.)

Bulloch already has many parks that are underutilized, including Fletcher and Jones-Lane. An agricultural arena is being built. The Fair Road park is used for softball and tennis, but both of those amenities will be removed according to renderings. Mill Creek, the university, and the Ogeechee River also provide recreation. 

Why not purchase the 48 acres that are for sale next to the bike path and bordering the creek? It would make a great park and could provide many of the same amenities proposed without the potential of condemning property. It is lowland, but so is the College Street property. 

It should be noted that downtown planning is supposed to be centered around walkability. Yet to get to this location people still will have to drive. That is the problem with the “Blue Mile.” Each shopping center or building is separated from one another and it is more convenient to drive than to walk. 

While the creek redevelopment may be a good project in the future for downtown development, there are higher priorities that need to be taken care of first. The committee is saying that taxpayers will not have to pay for the $20+ million that the Creek will cost, yet the loan will have to be paid back with tax dollars and there will surely be extra costs and maintenance down the road.

The public has had no input on this project and it is being forced upon people. It has been hidden and then unveiled with overwhelming ceremony so that people cannot question it. 

What input did city council have? Sunshine laws exist for a reason, and they may have been broken. Open records requests should be submitted so that people know what went on behind closed doors.

Redeveloping Little Lotts Creek is not a bad idea, but it has been done without public input. An open process needs to occur so that the people of Statesboro can be involved in such an ambitious government operation instead of a select few who stand to benefit from it. And it should not infringe upon the rights of private property and the free market.

Brannen Siebald

Statesboro


The benefits of school taxes


Editor:

What are you saying to your grandchildren about the importance of paying it forward if you don't think you should pay school taxes?  

It is much cheaper to pay for children's schooling than paying for the consequences of them not being in well-funded schools. Just look at the daily cost of being in prison, for example.  

Seniors are living longer and have more healthy years than ever before thanks in part to Medicare. Medicare is in fiscal trouble without more tax revenue, which we can only get without raising rates by having well educated children that command higher wages.  

Social security checks are scheduled to be cut across the board by 25 percent in 2034 due to lack of funds. Seniors should not bet on not being around in 2034, unlike all previous generations.   

What does whatever your faith tradition say about giving to children who you don’t know and who will never thank you?

Dr. Greg Brock

Statesboro