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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wisteria Square Property Should NOT Be Used for Amphitheater

 Wisteria Square/Photo by Darla Dixon
Why turning the "bridge to nowhere" on the Wisteria Drive/Wisteria Square property is not a good idea.

On October 20th, Kelly Kautz pointed criticism at Barbara Bender during the mayoral debate. Kelly Kautz charged that Barbara Bender wanted to spend $200,000 on a sound stage for the Snellville Towne Green (the green field off of Oak Road near US78/Main Street that is used for the Snellville Farmers' Market and various entertainment events now. Barbara Bender corrected Kelly Kautz on that. The figure proposed was actually $120,000.

Oh, why are people always picking on Kelly Kautz? [Insert my sad, pouty face here] She was only off by a mere $80,000. Let me repeat that again...Kelly Kautz, a candidate who wants to be mayor and handle our city budget was off by EIGHTY. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.

Kelly Kautz proposed an idea that probably a lot of people support. That is, to turn the unfinished structure on the Wisteria Square property into an amphitheater. I am not against your vision. It shows some creativity and positivity, and I'm not knocking that. Glad to see it, however late.  HOWEVER -- If you support this idea, you do not know the whole story. If you just drive by the property, it looks like it only has that bridge on it, and some parking.

Look a little closer. Do you see fire hydrants? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, I'm here to tell you that the vision of having an amphitheater on the Wisteria Square property is "penny wise but pound foolish." The property is already set with water and gas lines.

In the foyer of Snellville City Hall several months back when the city council voted to purchase the property at a garage sale price,  I spoke to Doug Spohn, the original developer of the property. Mr. Spohn told me that the property already has millions of dollars invested in it in just the infrastructure -- all the water and gas lines to code, etc.

In my opinion, it wouldn't make sense to built an amphitheater there and lose out on all the potential the property has for something that is closer to what was originally planned for the lot.

The best analogy I can think of is to imagine that your house has a gorgeous professional chef-grade kitchen in it with all gourmet appliances in it, 3 stainless steel refrigerators, Venetian marble counter-tops and so on, and you want to tear all that out to make a patio. Sure the patio is really nice, but look what you have missed out on. The patio would be better somewhere else on your property.

Well that's why the sound stage should be put on the Snellville Towne Green, the same place where the Snellville Farmers' Market and the Beatles tribute band concert was held, among other great events. It is about location. You want the thousands of people who drive through Snellville to see exciting events happening all the time and stop to find out what all the excitement is about! Visitors need to see the excitement in front of OUR city hall right off of Main Street.  They're not going to crane their necks down Wisteria Drive.

In addition, I believe the Wisteria Square/Wisteria Drive property isn't even coded for such use at this time. I believe it's considered mixed-use/office/professional. It was zoned that way so the development there would be quiet. I haven't been on the city council for 4 years like Kelly Kautz -- I haven't been on the council at all, and even I have a clue about that. I'm surprised the homeowners behind the property aren't upset about the very idea. An amphitheater in that location would be entirely too noisy.

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