Random Thoughts 2014

Posted: March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

It’s tough to believe that we are in March – what with these cold temps on certain mornings. Still, in the month’s closing weeks, we must admit that spring has sprung in Metro Atlanta. As we see the warm-up this week, our old friends Mr. and Mrs. Pollen are making their return. I thought that after living here for 25 years, I would become acclimated to the pollen, ragweed, pollution and whatever else exacerbates my allergies. Perhaps aging works against becoming acclimated to the environment. Certainly there have been studies performed on this phenomenon. An allergist is not terribly far in my future.

What should be more in our future are road repairs. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but it seems that the metro area’s roadways have become a bit more chewed up with cracks and potholes since the winter storms. Is it possible that snow and ice on these already-weakened roads made matters worse? If not, then is it possible that “road materials thieves” removed the pothole fillers in the dark of the night only to re-sell the materials to scrap shops (if they even exist)? Another theory is that aliens needed the road materials to fuel their space vehicles. OK, maybe I’m channeling former Gov. Jesse Ventura here, but there must be an answer to this dilemma.

Seriously, maybe it’s my imagination running wild or I’m more cognizant of the potholes which are festooned throughout many roads in suburbia and especially in the city of Atlanta. I’m thinking the latter scenario. A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution feature highlighted the problem. The article notes that the city itself needs $1.1 billion for the road, bridge, street and sidewalk repairs. It’s a challenge for Mayor Kasim Reed who obviously wishes to tackle the problem, but is certainly against raising taxes to complete such a daunting task. Not to sound dramatic, but there are some serious “road valleys” on my path to and from work in the city.

If these infrastructure repairs are not made, how should we as motorists and pedestrians deal with this amount of damage on a daily basis. Is there any advice for dodging potholes and uneven sidewalks? I suppose any leader like Atlanta’s Mayor Reed would say to just be more aware of your surroundings instead of checking your Smartphone to see the latest red carpet fashion faux pas nightmares or whatever you want to call them. C’mon, admit it, you want to look. We’re conditioned to look at such spectacles. Nevertheless, mum’s the word from the mayor or any other leader on how to deal with the pothole problem. Recently there were a multitude of traffic reports about major potholes on a freeway exit on Atlanta’s south side that was causing severe automobile and truck damage. It sounded like a rather dangerous situation. Is it possible when there is such a bad scene, an asphalt crew could be quickly summoned to fill the potholes? From the sounds of it, that was not going to happen.  A local traffic reporter was instructing listeners on which part of the road to drive. “If you stay away from driving near the shoulders, you’ll be fine,” the reporter suggested. Here’s hoping that situation was fixed since that time. Things are looking a bit more rosy up here in Gwinnett County. A list of road repairs and upgrades have been released. I’m proud to say that my street is on the list so I’ll get to once again experience the sweet smells of fresh asphalt at home.

From the smells of asphalt to the smells of certain flowers and trees reminds me of another matter happening in my neck of the woods. As most folks here in Peachtree Corners know, there has been much reported on the future of Simpsonwood. This prime tract of beautifully wooded land is 227 acres and valued at $100 million. Simpsonwood is has been owned and operated by The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. The organization can no longer afford to stay, so it’s looking to sell. Thus, Simpsonwood’s future is a huge question mark. Judging from how the county has dealt with such matters in the past (one need only to look at The Range), many in these parts feel that the land could be sold to a developer. We all know what that could mean: more homes and with that, more traffic. If not homes, then perhaps a developer could build a privatized retreat – maybe on the level of a Ritz-Carlton Retreat. That could be far-fetched, but who knows what will happen with Simpsonwood. Personally me and scores of others would like to see the county purchase the property and preserve this precious land as a park. Many of us have years of memories of walking, running or biking into Simpsonwood. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a massive owl in a pine tree and then of course the massive family of deer roaming the property’s massive meadow. Simpsonwood is an oasis in a sea of urban/suburban madness whereby one could go to get away from it all, but not have to travel so far to accomplish that desire. Simpsonwood is a gift to local residents and the general public alike. More preservation ought to occur throughout Gwinnett and the entire metro region. Indeed the land is worth a nice chunk of change, but should our habitat pay such a price for unneeded development?

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