Johns Creek Council taking can-do approach

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Since December when the newly minted Johns Creek City Council took office, this has been a body that is determined carry out a new mandate for the city.

The latest resolve by this City Council to revive the interest in turning Rogers Bridge into an iconic image for the city is just more evidence that they are going to be a proactive force for the community.

It was born out of a contentious election that did not end until the July 22 runoff. That attempt to oust Mayor Mike Bodker is well documented and its failure spectacular. But the previous council’s true fault was its failure to dare to be great.

This council with the mayor, Lenny Zaprowski, Cori Davenport, Kelly Stewart and Brad Raffensperger has already put a new stamp on this government. This is written before the addition of the runoff victors, but a new identity has been cast.

Already, they have put to bed a contentious issue: the failure to secure a much needed traffic signal at Brumbelow Road’s south entrance onto Old Alabama Road. It pointed to the failure of that council to ever trust its sister cities. Rather, they allowed themselves to be led by their former city manager who seemed bent on a policy of isolationism, which they bought into.

But I don’t want to rehash the past, nor do I want to denigrate in any way the tough job they had.

With no institutional memory to guide them, they were forced to hit the ground running and overall, did a good job. They established top drawer departments that have done a good job of meeting the basic needs, especially public safety, recreation and parks, public works, finance and establishing the city’s infrastructure.

That said, it is a new day and a new council. Reaching out to the city of Duluth, they reopened the plan to refurbish the 114-year-old Rogers Bridge into a pedestrian gateway. That will in the short term unite Duluth and Gwinnett greenways and parkland.

Most people I have talked with have used the word “no-brainer” when talking about their support of the idea. Yet, the city charter was changed in part to specifically muzzle Mayor Bodker from even bringing up the issue.

This City Council has shown none of the xenophobia that was shown previously. I expect to see more such willingness to explore the synergies that can be mined by cooperating with neighboring governments.

There is support from federal agencies and the Georgia Department of Transportation for alternative modalities for moving people around without using automobiles. That means support for greenways. Johns Creek is already working on its greenway to link to the Alpharetta Greenway and by extension Roswell’s trail system.

Forsyth County is doing the same. Rogers Bridge will be a link to further greenway expansion. Ultimately, greenway supporters in Roswell want to link to Cobb County greenways, which gains access to Georgia’s Silver Comet Trail.

That is a paved, non-motorized recreational trail that begins in Smyrna and runs 91 miles to Anniston, Alabama. Being a part of such a recreation network would be a huge asset financially as well as recreationally for the community.

The council is embracing the idea of a city center to create both a gathering place and an economic center. The possibilities for that are intriguing and show a belief that Johns Creek should indeed dare to be great.

And why not? Numerous economic studies put Johns Creek as a top place to come to get a job, a top city to raise a family and just recently was named the No. 1 “Rising City” in Georgia.

But there is no such thing as treading water for cities. You are either growing or dying. Johns Creek must embrace its place as a leading suburban Atlanta city or slide into something less than the best.

So far, it seems this council is opting for greatness.