Ishman Ballard land cleaned up
By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL firstname.lastname@example.org The property near the corner of Ishman Ballard Road and the Hwy. 34 Bypass on Newnan’s west side has been completely transformed.
For many years, the site was a popular dumping ground. Two dilapidated houses sat there, and piles of junk and garbage grew ever larger. Behind the two houses, hidden by privet and vines, were two more old structures — and a lot more junk.
The 1.9-acre property now features green grass and trees, and a barbed wire-topped fence with a chained gate to keep it that way.
“I’m really pleased about the way it turned out, the cooperation from the county staff and the other commissioners,” said Fifth District Coweta County Commissioner Al Smith.
Smith was a driving force behind getting the site cleaned up.
“I had gotten a lot of input from people who live in the area” about the dump site, Smith said. The residents were “mostly saying how shameful it was” for a gateway into the county to look like it did and “how long they had been trying to get some response from the county,” Smith said. “It had been mentioned to them before I became commissioner, but nothing was ever done about it,” he said.
The first step in getting the property cleaned up was an environmental assessment. That assessment found asbestos. There was asbestos used in the homes, as well as some asbestos pipe that had been dumped on the site.
When discussions began in earnest, there were concerns about the cost. Smith said, at one time, estimates were that it might cost as much as $100,000 to clean up the property. But it turned out to be a much cheaper endeavor. The cleanup cost approximately $22,910, with Coweta County not charging “tipping” fees for the disposal of everything that was removed from the property at the transfer station and landfill.
Those tipping fees were calculated at $25,236.
A lien has been placed against the property for the total cost, $48,146, according to Patricia Palmer, Coweta’s public affairs director.
The 1.9-acre property is owned by the heirs of the late owner, Willie Hines. According to Coweta tax records, property taxes haven’t been paid on the tract since at least 2005.
Currently, “there are no plans to do anything further, although foreclosing on the lien is an option,” Palmer said. “It does look much better and is certainly an improvement.”
Smith said he’s gotten several calls from residents thanking him for finally getting something done about the dump site.
In the early discussions, last summer, there were concerns raised by other commissioners and county officials.
“The biggest complaint about it is that it was just money we could never recoup,” Smith said. But the county pays for other things, such as parks, and doesn’t recoup its investment, Smith said.
He felt “it would do something for the morale of the community to know that we were listening to them and that we cared enough to try to do something about it,” he said.
“It definitely was an eyesore and it really gave a black eye to the whole county,” he said.
Smith credited his fellow commissioners.
“The other commissioners agreed that something needed to be done, and we were going to have to spend some money to get it fixed,” he said. “If it had not been for them, I don’t believe it ever would have happened.”
Having the project come in at about 25 percent of the previously estimated cost was a nice surprise.
“I think we got a deal. The citizens — they got a deal,” Smith said.
Smith said some of the neighbors have said they are going to keep an eye on the property to make sure it stays clean.
He’s also gotten feedback that the area residents were “glad to know their commissioner was at least paying attention and would listen to them,” Smith said.
“I told them I would do everything I could to get it rectified,” he said.
“Fortunately the board saw a need and we had some consensus to pay for it and get it fixed. And thank God it didn’t cost as much as we thought it was going to cost.”