Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enough is enough Jonesboro. It’s time you got off your duff and resurrected the Downtown Development Authority your city council abolished six-and-a-half years ago.
For those who have forgotten, let’s take a trip back in time to Nov. 13, 2006. That was the day the council voted to rid itself of the body designed to help encourage development along Main and McDonough streets.
The resolution to do away with the DDA was brought forward by then-Councilman Luther Maddox, arguing the group had been inactive and that it wanted too much money ($122,000) to operate in 2007.
DDA members asserted they had done some good for the city, including getting a tailgate farmers market (which is different from the city’s summer market) and working with Arts Clayton to get a mural in the heart of downtown.
The DDA’s membership also argued they were in the process of exploring the possibility of bringing wi-fi hot spots to the city when they were shut down. They also declared a month later that they refused to acknowledge the council’s decision and would continue to operate without city funding.
They pretty much haven’t been heard from since.
So why bring back the Jonesboro DDA? Take a look at what such authorities are designed to do.
“Downtown development authorities are used in cities throughout the state as a mechanism to revitalize and redevelop municipal central business districts,” the Georgia Municipal Association website stated.
According to GMA, there are 148 registered DDAs in Georgia. That includes one a few miles up Jonesboro Road in Morrow.
What could a DDA do for Jonesboro? It could have partnered with Arts Clayton to bring to the State Artwork Collection Tour to the city. The Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Humanities Council are sending the collection to galleries around the state.
But as is the case with all of the good things in life, there’s a catch. Local arts groups are required to partner with a DDA to get the tour to visit their area.
The lack of a DDA in Jonesboro pretty much puts the gallery and the city up a creek without a paddle.
The city should be embarrassed that it can’t help the biggest attraction in its downtown area because of a 6 1/2-year-old city council decision. Go ahead and hang your head low in shame Jonesboro.
The city needs its DDA back.
What is anyone doing to attract new business to Jonesboro’s downtown area? And that question extends to some of the former council members who voted to disband the DDA only to later complain that there is no business development taking place along Main Street.
You reap what you sow.
It is time for the city to establish some mechanism to encourage development downtown. You can’t just sit like a bump on a log and wait for some business to come along and set up shop in front of the old train depot. That’s not how development works.
If you want Starbucks — or something like it — to move in to, say, the old Simple Pleasures location then you have to go after them.
That’s why you have a DDA. That’s its job. That’s why the state made such authorities available to you.
If the city is going to thrive — If it’s going to grow and be a place where future generations of people want to live — then it has to accept progress.
And to do that, it has to re-establish its DDA.
Curt Yeomans is a Senior Reporter for the Clayton News Daily and he covers the city of Jonesboro. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, via Email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CYeomansCND.