Are Tyrone Voters the Problem?

Earlier this year, I began attending the town council meetings. I primarily wanted to become better informed and to understand how the council and town manager were overseeing development and planning our town's future. One of the main issues that interested me was the granting of half-acre lots to John Wieland Homes for a new subdivision. Other issues that have concerned me are the expedited change of local speed limits and the new library debacle. In each situation, the town council failed to consider the interest of all stakeholders in Tyrone.

The council's approval of half-acre lots for Wieland Homes required a change in Tyrone's land-use plan and was in direct opposition to the planning commission's unanimous recommendation of denial. The previous land-use plan called for 2-acre minimum lots, or, if the conservation overlay district had been applied, 1-acre lots. Why would Mayor Lee cast the deciding vote FOR the half-acre lots, despite strong protest by many citizens? To date, she has never stated her reasons for this. No one really knows why the development was approved, but there is a great deal of speculation. This decision gives us a glimpse of our town government and their vision for our future.

Reducing the speed limit on many of Tyrone’s thoroughfares also had no merit. Why reduce the speed limit without any evidence to support the change? The reason provided to us was the safety of our children. While I understand that we need to protect our children, will lowering speed limits enable us to cite more violators? The answer is no; the traffic fines will just be higher now. Don’t misunderstand; I firmly believe that every citizen must obey speed limits. However, law enforcement can only be in so many places at one time. Enforcing the existing speed limits would have been the best solution. Moreover, some of the streets on which speed limits were lowered are true traffic thoroughfares, where children do not play. It seems that increasing revenue was the real motivation for the change.

Another issue of concern is the way in which the council is choosing a site for the new library. Councilman Smola presented to the council members and citizens a plan for building a new library in Shamrock Park. His presentation included a $6000 rendering of a “revitalized” downtown area that included the library and a new town hall located in Shamrock Park. The council moved forward with this idea but failed to first get approval from the Fayette County Commission. The deed restriction on Shamrock Park prohibits the Town of Tyrone from using the land for anything other than recreational use unless Fayette County agrees to lift it. Mr. Smola made a heart-warming presentation to the county commission based on the results of the Town's biased survey. Fortunately, for all Tyrone citizens, the commissioners turned it down. After all the money had been spent to draw up the council’s plan, we have now been told that the Town owns land behind the recreation center on Commerce Drive. Why did the council go through this contentious and costly exercise when another site was already available? And why wasn't this site included on the survey? It now seems too easy, but I guess the council wants to make things harder than it should be.

All of these issues and the consequences of the decisions made are the responsibility of Mayor Lee. Mayor Lee should be at the forefront of all discussions, leading the way and not handing over major proposals to a council member. Her lack of leadership is costing this town dearly. This town needs a leader! Instead, we have council members pursuing their own agenda who treat citizens at council meetings with indifference or outright arrogance and disrespect, while the mayor remains silent. There is no accountability.

Even though I am disappointed with our town government, I can not and will not put the entire blame on them. A great deal of responsibility in Tyrone lies with the voters who elected the current officials into office.

The time has come to begin correcting the problems with the town leadership. The citizens will have the opportunity to speak loud and clear about how this town should be managed by electing two council members who will protect the future of our town. Although this election may not give the citizens the majority they need, it will prove to be a great first step.

Vote for the qualified candidates this time!

Tracy Young
Tyrone Citizen

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