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Peachtree Corners New Mayor Looks Ahead

Mike Mason, the mayor-elect for Gwinnett's newest - and largest - city has some big plans for this emerging city by the river.

 

Mike Mason, Peachtree Corners mayor-elect, is standing on the threshold waiting to lead Gwinnett's newest city into its future.

It's been a long wait. At one time cityhood was no more than a dream, unimaginable for those who did not share his vision. Its supporters knew it would be a uphill climb to convince this bedroom community that it could - and should - become a city.

The long wait ended Nov. 8, 2011, when the majority of voters (57 percent) decided in favor of cityhood. The next step took four more months when the city's first elections took place on March 6th, but only two of the city council seats were filled - four of the six city council seats are yet to be decided. A runoff on April 3 will finally decide who will be a part of the city's first city council.

It's been a waiting game for Mason, 61, but it's given the mayor-elect a good bit of time to plan for the city's first steps.

Patch sat down with Mason to get his thoughts and plans for the city. Mason said he had three priorities outlined that he hoped to tackle as soon as all six of his council members are in place.

"Step one is to set up the city's three services, planning and zoning, solid waste pickup and code enforcement," he said. That step will include evaluating vendors who will be outsourced to do the work.

And the next step on the mayor-elect's plan is to create a masterplan. "We need a plan for where we want to be in 2030," said Mason. "We need to plan for the increase in population, demographic trends and transportation."

Planning for where people will live, the expected socio-economic make up of the city's population all need to be considerd he said.

And third on the list, promoting the city. "I'd like to eventually have signs at every major entry point that lets people entering Peachtree Corners know they are in a special place." The reasoning behind it is more than just a chest-pumping move, it would be a way to help maintain the city as a desired place to live and a top spot for businesses to thrive. The intended outcome would help ensure property values would continue upward, and create a thriving business community.

Out of the gate he sees a need for a 24/7 call center to help field calls from residents. He's already heard a myriad of questions such as "Where is the jail going to be located," to "Who do I call to complain about this dog running loose."

"We need someone who can field those calls and transfer them to the correct department or authority," said Mason. "We don't want to tell people to hang up and call someone else, people don't like hearing that," he said. More importantly, fielding those calls will provide valuable information on what people are concerned about, which could be a valuable tool to the city in terms of understanding its citizens needs.

When the final four city council seats are filled in two weeks Mason said there will be plenty of work for the new council including training sessions for its council members, deciding on rental space to serve as city hall and provide office space for the support personnel for the three services.

Also on the list is developing and building a website to use as a communications tool for its citizens.

"If I can get those three things done, I realize there's probably 100 more," he said. But right now his focus is to set up the city. "We want to do it right."

Harry Dorfman March 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
When did this happen? "property values would continue upward"
Bob Martell March 20, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Gwinnett County already has a 24/7 call center for when people want to know how to get to jail, just dial 911. In some cases, they’ll even send somebody to pick you up and take you there! And we’re already paying for it. Cant imagine there is anything concerning trash pickup, zoning or code enforcement that is so urgent it couldn’t wait until regular business hours to call about. I think the new mayor is afraid that once people call and have to hang up and call somewhere else, they will finally realize the city can only do those three services and start wondering why we needed to be a city in the first place. Sounds like Mason wants to keep a log of what people call about so he can ask for more services and say ‘look, we’ve had x number of people call about this, we need to add this service’…
Bob March 21, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Bob, I simply love this comment. Zoning and code enforcement do not have "emergency" issues that would require someone to answer a call at 2 in the morning.
David Leader March 21, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Yeah, the call center comment seems a bit odd. I'm wondering if he was misquoted somehow on that (like the last quote about the police station?) As to house pricing trends, after a 45K drop in the last 3 years in house value my Zillow estimate (shows up on my MINT account) has shown a 6K trend upwards over the last month. Nowhere near enough to recover value on my home; but at least the loss trend has turned off.
Judy Putnam March 23, 2012 at 08:54 PM
David and Bob: I spoke again to Mike to get clarification on the call center mentioned in the story. This was his response: "I do believe the City will need a non-emergency call center (911 is provided by Gwinnett County) that is available 24/7. For example, both Sandy Springs and Johns Creek have 24/7 call centers where you can either speak with a live operator or inquire with email. But, they are both full service Cities with larger populations. What we will need to determine is how many hours we want to cover with live operators and how many via voice mail or email. That will be determining based on the volume of calls and the cost to serve for each method. Regardless, I believe we need to provide some comprehensive means of getting concerns from the citizens and making sure their questions are being answered."

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