Representatives from every department — from parks and recreation to Cobb police — spoke with attendees about the projects each department hopes to include on a list of projects that may be funded by a potential 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.
About 80 people turned out for the meeting at the East Cobb Library off Lower Roswell Road, said Robert Quigley, spokesman for the county.
While Ott said public safety was high on his list, he said residents were highly interested in transportation projects.
“Generally speaking, people ask about DOT,” he said.
Cobb’s transportation department highlighted a list of about $47 million in road improvements it has proposed for District 2, among the $295 million in total transportation improvements it hopes to see funded in the top tier of SPLOST.
Faye DiMassimo, head of Cobb DOT, said a proposed $20 million four-lane roadway connecting Windy Hill and Terrell Mill roads tops the district’s list.
“What I think people are coming out for tonight is to really understand the (transportation) program,” DiMassimo said of the meeting’s attendees.
She said the projects her department included on the list it presented Monday were all “driven by need.”
For the many resurfacing proposals she outlined, she said her department had rated roads throughout the county based on pavement quality and ranked which most needed repaving.
But a transportation proposal many opposed also made its way into conversations around the meeting.
Rob Sifen, president of the Cobb County Civic Coalition, said the bus rapid transit system Chairman Tim Lee has suggested including on the SPLOST list is “deceptive.”
Gary Pelphrey, a local activist also in attendance Monday evening, agreed the BRT item has rubbed some people the wrong way.
“I think Tim Lee has lost it,” Pelphrey said.
Ott said he was not in favor of including BRT on the SPLOST list commissioners will approve July 22.
“No. 1, I don’t agree with it. Just the concept. I think that it’s more about economic development than it is about transit solutions. And I think it’ll kill the SPLOST,” Ott said.
“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that if it’s on there, they won’t vote for the SPLOST.”
Cal Dortch, a retired financial services agent who now heads the Vinings Community Conservation Alliance, said his group was keeping an eye on DOT proposals at Monday evening’s meeting.
“We wanted to review projects in Vinings, specifically trying to address traffic, trails and parks and some aesthetics that we want, like roundabouts,” Dortch said.
“We are in favor of SPLOST as long as we see a benefit to our community.”
Dortch, who lives in Vinings, said his group presented their project idea to DOT officials and spoken about them with Ott “continually.”
“Bob Ott is a real asset to us in the district and in our community,” he said.
Among the projects Dortch emphasized in his group’s “master plan” for Vinings was a proposal to lay out signs to direct people around congested parts of the area.
The signs, which Dortch said the county estimated would cost between $5,000 and $8,000, would guide people around Vinings to the new bridge over Interstate 285 the said parallels Paces Ferry Road.
The “Vinings Bypass,” as he called it, would not require the construction of any new roads.
“It would change people’s driving habits,” he said of the signage plan, which did not end up on the DOT’s published list of projects.
Tucked into the Tier I SPLOST proposal from the county’s facility department is more than $30 million in new technology for the county’s data center.
Ed Biggs, a division manager who works with the county’s information systems, said information technology has never been included in a SPLOST list.
If the project makes it onto the final list and voters approve a SPLOST renewal in November, the county will make the most significant IT investment it has ever made, Biggs said.
Its previous investments in the technology infrastructure that allows the government to function haven’t topped $700,000, he said.
Biggs said the servers on which county computers run date back to the 1980s, and are concentrated in one building with limited security.
The new data center would be located in police headquarters for “inherent security,” Biggs said.
“If we were to lose our data center, it would be maybe weeks or months before we could get back,” he said. “It would be (like the) 1970s.”
Records management systems for the police and fire departments and the sheriff’s office would be down, Biggs said, as well as the county’s telephone and email systems, parks and recreation registration, and the library system.
Biggs said such a shut-down could take weeks or months to recover from with the current system, but a new disaster recovery center located in place of the current data center would shorten the recovery time to four to eight hours.
“If we had a fire in the data center, we would be in trouble,” Ott said, adding IT investments would make it onto the list he submits to the BoC. “We really need to have a disaster recovery site, and with the data center, that’s what that accomplishes. So that’s important.”