The mayor, arguably Marietta’s biggest booster, is setting the bar high. He will not be guilty of low expectations. After the Council unanimously agreed on the committee last week, Tumlin declared: “We’re getting 14 people involved that will probably make major contributions to the city.”
The makeup of the committee should provide a cross-section of interests vital to the heart of the city’s future. There is to be at least one downtown restaurant owner and one shopkeeper appointed in addition to one appointee by each Council member and the mayor, two by the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, one by The Branding Project which promotes downtown, and one to be elected by downtown churches.
One of the major issues is quiet railroad crossings. Tumlin wants to consider at least five quiet crossings together with the cost and turnaround time, and how to work out the necessary deal with the railroad. Funding is the biggest challenge for these projects and any others that emerge from the committee’s work. On that point, the mayor hopes for help from the Development Authority which has the power to raise its tax rate from the current 2.09 mills to a maximum 5 mills, same as the Cumberland and Town Center Community Improvement Districts. Property owners in those districts gladly pay the self-imposed tax “because they can see the bang for the buck,” Tumlin argues. He believes the city, the DMDA and downtown Marietta businesses can work together in a similar way to make positive things happen.
Tumlin said he’s also willing to look at installing parking meters as another revenue source for possibly building a parking deck, but that falls into the iffy file as of now, considering Councilman Johnny Sinclair’s outspoken opposition to constructing another deck since two existing ones just off the Square are underused.
Another sore point for the mayor is the large trash bins in and around the Square. Tumlin wants the committee to find a way of hiding the bins from public view — which no doubt will be the easiest of his ideas to bring to reality. But the mayor is on the right track, and we can only wish him success in his efforts to improve downtown Marietta for visitors, residents and businesses alike.