Mayor Dunagan's Acceptance SpeechCouncil, thank you for electing me Mayor. I am honored and humbled to represent our great city as its 57th Mayor. I am looking forward to working with each one of you and our staff for the betterment of Gainesville and its citizens.
I want to thank Ruth Bruner for her outstanding service and her leadership as Mayor. She led this city well and left some big shoes to fill. Ruth, thank you for all you did to move this city forward during some tough times.
Next, I want to thank Kip Padgett and his entire staff for their support and continued dedication to Gainesville. Gainesville’s staff is second to none and I appreciate all that they do.
The last couple of years have been economically challenging for all of us. Utilizing cost cutting measures, including the consolidation of departments, Council, in cooperation with our city manager and his staff has streamlined our city government. We successfully trimmed expenses while maintaining the same quality of service that the citizens of Gainesville have been accustomed to.
As we go into this new year, we will take what we’ve learned over the last couple of years. We will continue moving forward and capitalizing on new opportunities. We will see the many projects that are in the pipeline finished and confront the issues that lie ahead. Let me just mention a few.
The completion of the pedestrian bridge is in the final stage of connecting Midtown to Downtown, a dream we have had since discussions of revitalizing Midtown that began in 2000. The development of the City View Project is moving forward as we speak.
Midtown: We will continue to focus on the redevelopment of this area. With the completion of the Midtown Greenway, a trail that will eventually connect Lake Lanier to Gainesville State College, the multiuse facility we are in tonight, is the stimulus needed to begin the redevelopment in this area. There are projects being discussed now in this area that will dramatically change Midtown as we know it.
The recent announcement of Brenau University’s interest in locating its Allied Health Services School in the Georgia Mountains Center is exciting. Projections are for 700 graduate students plus staff. This joint venture of Brenau and the city could be very well the catalyst that downtown Gainesville has needed. Making Brenau a part of the Gainesville square family should have a positive impact on existing businesses, attract new business and offer the possibility of greater downtown living.
Gainesville’s Comprehensive Plan, a road map to how this city will develop in the future, is in its final stages. Staff and Council are looking at the possibility of adding new Tax Allocation Districts and Opportunity Zones to further attract business into the city by offering payroll tax credits and bond financing opportunities.
The talks and planning for the future of the Rowing Venue, a goal of Mayor Bruner’s, needs to continue and we need to explore how this venue can be enhanced to its full potential. We have other areas on the lake that the city operates that need to be explored for developing. The dialogue with the Corps of Engineers has already started about those possibilities.
Traffic: I am asking Council, staff and the Metropolitan Planning Organization to develop a plan for correcting the city’s traffic problems. There are streets and intersections in this city where at certain times traffic moves at a snail’s pace. As the city continues to grow, it is imperative that we begin to work toward correcting areas that are problematic. One area of concern is congestion within the neighborhoods created by motorists taking short cuts in order to avoid areas of traffic congestion, a dangerous and potentially deadly scenario. Traffic plans such as this take time and money. We must start planning now to get ready for the future.
Water: There has been much discussion regarding water and Lake Lanier over the past several years. The recent Federal Appeals Court ruling solidified what we already knew…water supply is one of the intended uses of Lake Lanier. That ruling, coupled with the Cedar Creek Reservoir, will satisfy Gainesville’s present and future water needs for many years in the future. The city supports a regional and state approach to the Glades Reservoir project, however, that are many questions about this project and how it integrates with other local and regional water providers throughout the state. For the good of all citizens, these questions need to be answered quickly.
In closing, I wish to thank the citizens of Gainesville for the privilege of serving as a member of your City Council. To the members of this Council, I thank you again for the confidence you have shown in me by electing me Mayor. There is no doubt in my mind that we live in the best city in America. I trust that each one of these Council members and staff share my belief.
Together with you, the citizens of Gainesville, we will continue to keep our city a beautiful, progressive and safe place to live. A place we can all call home and be proud of.