At a SPLOST IV town hall meeting Thursday at the Fortson Library in Hampton, steering committee member and former Hampton city councilman Arley Lowe said the senior center is a hot-button issue.
“[It’s] the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It’s on this list,” he said about a roster of 14 buildings. “We’ve gotten assurances from everybody that it will happen this time. I know there are an awful lot of naysayers who say, ‘Oh, we were promised that before.’”
Committee vice chair and former county commissioner Johnny Basler counseled patience.
“When you get frustrated and aggravated because we haven’t gotten something done, remember the men and women we elect are doing their jobs,” he said.
But the purse strings of the new SPLOST will depend on voters, whose potential veto Lowe acknowledged.
“There’s a lot of opposition to [the referendum] because it’s a tax,” he said.
Committee member and former McDonough Mayor Richard Craig praised the 40 attendees, including Hampton Mayor Chris Moore.
“We’ve been all over the county. This is the biggest crowd we’ve had,” Craig said. “I’m proud of Hampton. You deserve a senior center.”
Former charter pilot Lowe said economic development will benefit from a $2 million upgrade at Atlanta South Regional Airport, aka Tara Field, where runway widening is already in progress.
“What we have here at our airport is very, very minimal and not the least enticing,” he said about its main facility. “We’re not going to make a good first impression for corporate aircraft to come in.”
Public speakers made presentations for other projects.
County E-911 Director Don Ash proposed a $15 million emergency radio system upgrade.
Mike Haney, of Ola, pitched a $13,000 enhancement of the disc golf course at J.P. Moseley Park in Stockbridge.
Henry County Chamber of Commerce past chair Charles Woodruff asked for $6 million seed money for an $18 million, 80,000-square-foot companion building to the Southern Crescent Technical College addition under construction.
John Turpin described the Kensley Grace Aquatic Center for recreation, competition and therapy as a suitable candidate for $5 million to buy lakeside real estate.
None of the requests surprised committee member Wayne Greer.
“Every time SPLOST comes up, everybody and his brother is trying to get something,” he said. “And I understand.”
What’s next? Three more public hearings will be held June 13 at 6 p.m. at McDonough City Hall, 136 Keys Ferry St., June 17 at 4:30 p.m. and June 20 at 6 p.m., both at the county Administration Building, 140 Henry Pkwy. in McDonough.