On March 5, 2015, YPT Atlanta hosted a panel discussion on the “Renew Atlanta” Bond Referendum at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Panelists included Rebecca Serna, Executive Director of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Sally Flocks, President and CEO of PEDS, Jalal Slade, Senior Policy Advisor on Real Estate to the City of Atlanta, and Atlanta City Council District 2 Representative Kwanza Hall. The discussion was moderated by Tom Weyandt, a former transportation adviser to Mayor Kasim Reed. Parsons Brinckerhoff was the event sponsor, which included networking refreshments. Overall, there were more than 70 people in attendance for the panel discussion, including print and television journalists.
Key takeaways from the panel discussion included:
- The proposed $250 million bond package will help the City of Atlanta to address about 1/4 of its $900 million infrastructure backlog without any tax rate increases.
- While much of the bond money is planned for specific projects such as repaving streets, retiming signals, and replacing bridges, the final project list has not yet been finalized, but will be once the city goes to Wall Street to sell the bonds.
- A major concern raised by panelist Sally Flocks was that the lump sum amounts set aside for sidewalk repairs and curb upgrades have dwindled significantly or disappeared completely from preliminary project lists.
- Creative Loafing created an editorial Comprehensive Guide to the Referendum
- The City of Atlanta created a website with the list of proposed projects and their locations
The panelists made the following predictions for the final referendum pass rate:
- Rebecca Serna: 70%
- Sally Flocks 80%
- Jalal Slade 90%
- Kwanza Hall 88%
The actual results of the March 17th bond referendum were 87% in favor, and thus Councilman Hall won both the prediction as well as lunch with YPT Atlanta’s Board of Directors. Approximately 7.5% of the city’s registered voters made it out to vote for the referendum on St. Patrick’s Day, which is a great reminder to exercise your civic rights by voting in the next election or referendum in your hometown.