Community Voiced: Peachtree City endures bumpy ride

Jill Howard Church has lived in Fayette County since 1994. Reach her at jillptcblog@aol.com.

Fasten your seatbelts for a bumpy ride if you’re traveling on Peachtree City’s golf cart paths.

Unfortunately, most golf carts don’t have seatbelts, or shock absorbers capable of withstanding the jolts that riding over certain sections of paths entails.

Timely maintenance of the nearly 100 miles of paved paths has been slowed by budget cuts over the past few years, and the city is still playing catch-up.

A map on the city’s webpage shows areas slated for resurfacing, including long stretches near Aberdeen Parkway and between Flat Creek Road and Kedron Drive.

The preliminary FY2015 city budget includes $440,000 for path repaving, but that’s a drop in the bucket (or perhaps the pothole) compared to what needs to be done.

Before a one mill property tax increase was voted down by the city council last month, Peachtree City was considering spending $1 million on path repaving. Complaints from residents are growing, and city reps have expressed concern about the effects of deteriorating infrastructure on attracting new residents.

— Community Services Director Jon Rorie told the city council in June that path repaving was already two years behind schedule. A seven-man crew of city workers can fix only about six miles of path per year, he says, adding recently that “at the current funding levels, we should catch up in three to five years.”

— The paths’ narrow widths and the city’s narrow budget make hiring outside contractors to speed up the process infeasible.

When my kids attended Braelinn Elementary, they rode to and from school on the golf cart. We lived only a few blocks away, so it was quick and easy. At some point it became a game for me to try to hit as many of the bumps in the path as possible – nothing unsafe, just a way to make the ride home a little more bouncy and make the kids giggle.

These days it’s not so funny. Trips around town often involve driving slower and squinting harder (especially at night) to avoid areas where ruts have worn deeper and tree roots have pushed higher.

— Peachtree City charges non-city residents (except those in Tyrone) a $60-per-year fee to drive on city paths, supposedly to offset maintenance costs that city residents support through property taxes.

— City Manager Jim Pennington recently rejected a request from county commissioners to allow reciprocal golf cart registration between Peachtree City and its unincorporated county neighbors. That might backfire if, as Commission Chairman Steve Brown alluded at an August meeting, the county decides to likewise charge city residents to use county paths.

— If last year’s SPLOST had passed, Peachtree City would have received a lot more money – mostly from out-of-county shoppers – for path and road repaving. City Council member Eric Imker recently called the SPLOST defeat “one of the biggest mistakes the voters in this community have ever made.”

As golf cart paths become an even more common way to get around Fayette County, it might make sense to prioritize both path maintenance and countywide support of the entire system. We need fewer speed bumps, not more.