Let’s tackle the blight, together
I’ve been working in Polk County long enough to learn one thing: everything happens here at a much slower pace than I’ve become accustomed.
Maybe it’s the difference between writing for the daily newspaper in Rome versus writing for the paper here on a weekly basis, but the work sometimes – not that I’m complaining – is definitely slower here.
Progress already transpires in Georgia at a glacial pace, it seems to slow down more in Polk County.
There are definitely positive things happening in Rockmart, Cedartown and Aragon. Organizations are working toward providing more opportunities for people here to work and play, toward cleaning up the blight and bringing about safe, drug-free streets throughout Polk County.
Blight is one of the upcoming targets for the City of Cedartown, who looks to target absentee landlords in a new ordinance with tax hikes for not keeping their property up to snuff.
I think city commissioners are doing the right thing by working on the ordinance to punish landlords who aren’t keeping their property in good shape, not because I’m for overburdening taxation. Nay, I’m for this because no one should have to live in or next to a house that is literally falling down.
City commissioners took a tour following the July 4 holiday with building inspector Joseph Martin to see exactly why the ordinance was needed. What I saw on the tour with the commissioners last Monday would have shocked any- one.
Beautiful old homes in decay and people living in what is best described a squalor. Roofs were caved in on at least half a dozen of the houses we passed by in the city’s handicapped bus. Even worse, many of these places still have power lines connected to the meters, and water ready to be turned on and fill the pipes.
I won’t pretend to understand the forces that brought Cedartown to this point. In fact, I will admit that at times I still feel like an outsider looking into a snowglobe sized version of Polk County, wondering what I might find next.
But sometimes, people need an outsider’s perspective to remind them of the growing list of issues that need to be addressed.
Here’s one to start with: under no circumstances, newcomer or longtime resident, should anyone have to look at those houses in Southeast Cedartown. No one should have to live next door to them either, but they do.
Many people in Cedartown take pride in their property. They do well by maintaining their homes and keeping the exteriors beautiful.
By no means is Southeast or Southwest Cedartown, or the West Avenue corridors the only problems we have in the city or in Polk County as a whole.
Rockmart and Aragon have their own sets of diverse issues. The latest is the City of Aragon’s closing of their fire department. Homeowners will face the long term consequences of that decision when their ISO (Insurance Services Office) ratings are effected, thus raising their homeowners insurance payments at the same time.
Drugs, most of all, remain everywhere in Polk County. The Drug Task Force is trying to tackle the problem one bust at a time, tiny chips taken from a large stone that, with current resources, might never be enough.
Everywhere I turn, I seem to find something else that bothers me. It’s alarming to see so much work to do with so few hands willing to get dirty and do what it takes to make Polk County beautiful again.
Here’s what it comes down to, folks. If you want industrial partners to come into the community and provide jobs and tax income for local governments, it’s going to take more than just fixing up the schools or tearing down old houses. It’ll take more than improving test scores and opening local businesses in the downtown areas. It takes a common dream and vision that all of Polk County can get behind.
Bringing development will require doing all of these things and more at the same time, forcing local leaders to hold spinning plates above their heads until Polk County’s many problems are brought under some control. They can dream, and scheme and announce plans for projects left and right. It does nothing if no one is willing to step up with them to do something.
Nothing in this world ever comes easy, including progress. Everyone has their own individual crises come along to bring life to a halt. I experience them on a daily basis lately.
Its all in how we decide to handle the stumbles we take, both as individuals and as a community, that will make a difference in the long run.
The easiest solution of all for everyone would be if we had erasers that could strike out all the problems and allow everyone to start fresh on a daily basis. Yet it is doing the right thing, not always the easiest thing, that makes triumph over problems the greatest feeling in the world.