At Issue: Does Fayette County’s rebranding represent all?

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At Issue: Does Fayette County’s rebranding represent all?

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The Fayette Visioning Initiative’s rebranding campaign aims to attract a greater variety of residents and businesses to the county. Courtesy Fayette Visioning

Trendy new logos are popping up in Fayette County as part of a comprehensive rebranding effort between local governments and the tourism and development interests that are driving local growth. Ever since Pinewood Studios set up shop in Fayetteville, there’s been a superhero push to market the county as a destination for movie buffs, new businesses and young professionals.

The Fayette Visioning Initiative was launched in 2012 to assess the needs and desires of county residents and create a five-year vision plan for targeted growth. The county is now implementing that plan with guidance from committees focusing on education, prosperity, community and place. One of its stated goals is for Fayette to be “a model community for embracing changing demographics and building a place where people from all walks of life can find a home.” Its 2017 summit chose the theme of “Envisioning Your Story,” a variation of the “Create Your Story” tagline on the county’s new logo.

But there remains some disconnect between what is and what might be. Despite a population that is 21 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic, the governing bodies of the county, its school board and its municipalities are still overwhelmingly middle aged (or older) and white. Only 20 percent of its residents are age 25-44, but although Fayette wants to attract more millennials, it opposes public transportation into Atlanta. Several proposals to build more affordable housing have met with pushback. And in a mural recently installed at The Avenue in Peachtree City, all seven of the people depicted are under 40 and Caucasian, despite the city’s racial diversity and a large “active adult” subdivision under construction nearby.

Dawn Oparah, a member of Fayette Visioning’s community committee, says the county’s demographics are changing, “and we do want to be welcoming.” She says the initiative plans to implement a program in Fayette similar to one in Birmingham, Alabama, where businesses are taught to “understand the value of diversity.” To get the answers right, she says, “you have to ask the right questions.”

So tell us, Fayette residents, is the county improving its marketability? Are you making your needs known? Weigh in at communitynews@ajc.com by Tuesday. Comments may be edited for length and will be published next week in print and online.

LAST WEEK: WHAT SHOULD DECATUR DO WITH UMCH PROPERTY?

Next month Decatur begins assembling its master plan for redeveloping the old United Methodist Children’s Home property. The work’s expected to last six to eight months and includes four community input sessions.

The city says there are no definitive plans for this section until the community master planning’s completed. So we asked, in advance of those sessions, what’s you’re vision for this property?

We asked specifically about the property’s western portion that fronts South Columbia Drive. This includes a mixture of old growth forest and 31 buildings including 22 that have been identified as contributing resources to a potential historic district, seven built between 1903 and 1919.

Here’s what some of you said:

We are members of Better Living Together, a diverse group of parents, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities in metro Atlanta. We have come together to address a critical need for affordable housing solutions that include people with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Our Decatur subgroup would like to see part of the former UMCH property used to create an affordable, diverse and inter-generational intentional community. This would allow the more vulnerable populations of seniors, individuals and families of moderate income and persons with I/DD to remain in the city in which they live and work, in a neighborhood that promotes diversity in a safe and stimulating environment. We believe this would promote the city’s goal of maintaining diversity in our community and honor the history of the property, which has been dedicated to serving children and families in need. — Tim and Beate Sass

I am part of an unofficial group trying to get a community 400-meter track on the property. City Schools Decatur has never had a track and thus the track team has no place to practice and host meets. — Matthew Carlton

How about leave it as green space. — Julie Anderson

Hint: Not a 600-unit housing development. — Al Myers

Many DeKalb County residents and Decatur residents want a live theater/arts center there. Such theaters provide entertainment and art programs for all ages. Currently “On Stage Atlanta” is looking for a site. Decatur says they are interested in the arts, so this may be an exciting partnership. — Barbara Haworth

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