JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – If the dozens of Brumbelow Road residents who came to the Oct. 10 Johns Creek candidate forum at Rivermont Country Club hoped to hear from candidates up for election why plans for the signal light for their street fizzled, they were disappointed.
None of the candidates for election who voted to abandon the Brumbelow signal showed. Former Councilwoman Bev Miller, who is running for mayor, said her invitation went to an old Web address and she did not receive it in time. Councilwoman Karen Richardson said she had a previous engagement. Councilman Randall Johnson said he planned to be there, but a meeting the same day ran long.
Brumbelow residents have been pressing for a traffic signal at Nesbit Ferry Road and thought they were near to getting it when city officials got into a squabble with Roswell officials and withdrew the city’s work order.
Mayor Mike Bodker and Councilwoman Kelly Stewart, who did support continuing the efforts for the Brumbelow traffic light, were in attendance at the forum along with candidates Cori Davenport and Nancy Reinecke who are running for Richardson’s Post 3 seat, and Dr. Lenny Zaprowski who opposes Johnson for the Post 1 seat.
That left it to Councilman Brad Raffensperger, who was the lone councilmember in attendance who voted to withdraw the city’s work permit.
The traffic signal had been long sought by Brumbelow residents, and they were disappointed after Roswell agreed to allow Johns Creek to erect the signal on Nesbit Ferry, a street Roswell owns.
However, when Roswell Transportation officials found the light was not being built according to “best practices,” they issued a stop-work order. It was followed up by a request from the Roswell City Council to enter into a memorandum of understanding about the signal’s placement, donation of the signal to Roswell and designating Roswell as the entity that would set the timing of the signal.
The Johns Creek City Council was angered at this and withdrew their work permit, leaving $26,000 in equipment on the ground. It was later collected by Roswell and then retrieved by Johns Creek.
The first order of business in the forum was to get the candidates on the record whether they supported the Brumbelow traffic signal. Not surprisingly, all of those on the forum supported putting a signal on Nesbit Ferry.
Bodker calls the intersection the “11th worst” in the city. He said the city has a plan to fix the 10 worst intersections, and he would like Brumbelow to be addressed with a traffic signal.
“But it is more complex because it means we must work with another city. For that a cooperative framework is needed,” he said.
Bodker’s solution is to let the mayors of the two cities iron out an agreement within that framework. Each would take the agreement for the two city councils to approve, and having done so, leave it to staff to put up the signal.
“You don’t take your toys and go home,” Bodker said.
Zaprowski said his daughter had an accident at that intersection. He said it was a deadly crossroads and the citizens need it. Davenport and Reinecke also said they supported a signal there.
Raffensperger said the entire City Council supports the signal at Nesbit Ferry, but there were other issues that surrounded it.
“The person who failed you was your mayor,” Raffensperger said.
He held up a CD, which he said was a recording of the City Council’s annual retreat. On it, Raffensperger said Bodker admitted to talking to Roswell Mayor Jere Wood about the traffic signal.
“He called him and gave him our plan. That was like the football coach of Johns Creek giving the plans to the Roswell coach before the game. The mayor is the one who boogered it,” Raffensperger said.
Bodker said the real problem the city has in general is that it does not cooperate well with the other North Fulton cities.
“You can go look at the articles about our relationships with them. Look at the name-calling,” Bodker said.
Johns Creek seems to always wind up ascribing base motives for the other cities and use that as an excuse not to cooperate with them. As for having conversations with the Roswell mayor, Bodker dismissed them.
“Mayor Wood and I talk all the time. This innuendo that we were up to something is not true. We were talking before, during and after the negotiations on the light. That’s what mayors do,” Bodker said. “I didn’t take my toys and go home. I stayed to fight [for the signal] and I’m still fighting.”