There is a controversial SPLOST project underway in Athens. Back in 2006, a project was approved for the Special Local Option Sales Tax. This project has been being argued about for nearly a year. Several million dollars to be spent on a Tennis Center, which will then require a few hundred thousand per year in operating expenses. This comes at a time when the budget has a tremendous shortfall, a shortfall that has required the unified Athens Clarke County government to take drastic actions such as turning off some street lights and traffic signals in order to save money.
The tennis center, which is supposed to enable ACC to draw large tournament play to Athens and produce a significant economic impact. ACC would be competing with just two other centers in the Southeast for the privalege of hosting these tournaments. Sounds pretty good so far, doesn't it?
The proposed location of the tennis center is Bishop Park, a large in town green space which already has softball, swimming, tennis, basketball and soccer facilities. The size of the new center would eliminate large swaths of the the green space to accommodate asphalt covered parking lots.
The debate surrounding the proposed location ranges from loss of green space, environmental impact and the loss of the favored location for a local co-op farmers market. The touchy feelie side of the debate doesn't really get to me as much as some information that I found out this morning.
1. The SPLOST was originally for "Parks and Leisure Services Improvements" not for a Tennis Center at all
2. There was no economic impact study done for either the potential of the new center or of any existing centers? WTF!
The ACC govt has been hiding behind the fact that the county is legally bound to carry through with the SPLOST since it was a ballot referendum voted on by the entire county. What they aren't telling anyone is the money wasn't allocated specifically to a tennis center, and the rest of the Parks and Leisure Services department could really use the money for other purposes.
I think someone might need to clear this up before any money gets spent.