Ledger Inquirer: The power of the pen only goes so far

August 4, 2013 

MIKE HASKEY/mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.comThis wooden bridge on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk is still slick and hazardous to cyclists and runners.

MIKE HASKEY — mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com Buy Photo

This edition of the Inquirer will stray from the norm a bit with an update leading things off and a little bit of advice to round it out.

Chief Photographer Mike Haskey and I decided we'd go out to check on the progress on the city's efforts to make the so-called "covered bridge" on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk safe for cyclists and joggers. The perpetually soggy wooden surface of the bridge has been dangerously slippery.

As we reported July 9, the city had decided how to address the problem, and I was told it would take about four to six weeks to get it fixed.

But as of Friday, almost 3 1/2 weeks later, apparently nothing has been done.

Granted, we've had enough rain lately to float your average ark, so maybe that's kept work from beginning. Stay tuned.


With your indulgence, we're going to do something a little different this week.

First, I get a lot of requests for attention to problems around town, probably 5-10 times as many as I can address. Many, if not most, are things that I just can't do anything about, usually because the transgressions, while unsightly and possibly even dangerous, are not in violation of any city ordinance.

For example, the framers of our city's code care about what your and your neighbors' front yards look like. If the grass and weeds are over 18 inches high, they'll require them to cut it, or they'll have it cut and slap a lien on the property until that bill is paid.

But backyards? Not so much. Your neighbor's backyard can look like the set of "Apocalypse Now" and the city can't do anything about it because it's not against the law.

There's a similar situation with problem trees. If you or your neighbors have a tree that is dead or dying and threatens to fall into the public right of way, then the city will require you to have it cut down. Or, as with the 18-inch weeds, they'll contract it out and break out the lien-slapper again.

But if the tree is only threatening you or your property, that's a private civil matter between you and the property owner. Contact a lawyer.

You say your street needs resurfacing? Well believe it or not, the city is aware of it. They keep a regularly updated list of all city streets and their relative need for attention. Now if something out of the ordinary has happened to significantly change the condition of your street, let the city know. Has a bad pothole just cropped up? Call the city.

And speaking of calling the city, that's the first thing I ask people who call or write: "Have you called 311 or 653-4000 to report the problem?" Call them before you call me, because believe it or not, they have a very good track record of getting after problems.

And no offense intended, Concerned Readers, but think it through before you call or write.

One guy called to report a potentially catastrophic situation that could cause a child to fall to his or her death. The guy described a parking lot in a public park that had no safety railings to keep people away from a sheer drop.

I was greatly intrigued until the guy said it was at the Grand Canyon.

"Oh, you mean the Little Grand Canyon down around Lumpkin?" I asked.

No, he was talking about the Big One out west.

I apologetically told the guy that not only is Arizona a little out of our coverage area, but that I have very little sway with the Department of Interior.

Seen something that needs attention and isn't too wet to work on? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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