Nobody I know likes to pay taxes. However, a penny taxed for transportation is a penny saved toward improvements for counties and municipalities if the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is approved by the voters of Oconee County in 2012.
Oconee County government has its own list, but this column will be devoted toward the plans of the City of Watkinsville.
Watkinsville is especially in need of sidewalks for streets such as Whitehall/Simonton Bridge and the connecting Harden Hill Road. The municipal government, and in particular Police Chief Lee O'Dillon, have done as much as they can to make pedestrians safe in this somewhat high traffic area, with the crosswalk on Harden Hill to the entrance to Ashford Manor Bed and Breakfast as a prime example of relatively small projects that make big progress for little or no expense to the taxpayers of the county seat.
This newest crosswalk is particularly effective during the Concerts on the Lawn series on Mondays at Ashford Manor. This fantastic concert series will be bringing lots of visitors to Watkinsville very soon, and sometimes it is quite dark when the concerts conclude. The blind curve around Harden Hill as well as the hill leading up to Ashford Memorial Methodist Church are both potentially very hazardous, and Chief O'Dillon himself often directs traffic to make sure families are safe when coming to and exiting the palatial terraced estate of Ashford Manor's spacious concert venue.
Many people walk, jog or ride bicycles down Harden Hill and a sidewalk would be a substantial yet expensive improvement to the safety of young and old alike. One cent added to purchases inside the county could add up quickly toward paying for this much needed and not easily constructed project. The city has already done quite a lot to improve and stabilize the crumbling shoulder near the creek with reinforced support thanks to large piles of granite boulders and subsequent paving.
The final list of approved projects will be driven by the state. Some other areas that could receive the 'OK' by the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission include the paving of the last gravel road I am aware of inside the city limits --Mulberry Street-- and possibly the Simonton Bridge bypass that would essentially connect the area near the Chicken Express past the cemetery toward the east side of Athens. The other radical curve in the city on the dangerous and hilly VFW Drive would receive a much needed paving should all the projects be approved.
Mayor Joe Walter spoke about the possibility of these projects going forward at the City Council meeting on March 9. He will be playing tour guide to a large group of 55 or so people as part of the Heart and Soul tour coming to Eagle Tavern at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, April 14 with a band and as many local residents who can muster getting up that early to welcome the visitors to our Artland of Georgia. He will be showcasing the Town Center improvements as well as the Streetscape projects to this group of bankers and business people coming to Eagle Tavern on a motor coach bus.
The Georgia Green Association will also recognize the beautification that the City of Watkinsville has completed with the planting of drought resistant and native trees on the south side of town. Mayor Walter plans to apply for a grant to do the same planting of trees on the north side as well.