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."