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Mayor Fretti addresses plans for the city

On Thursday, March 25, Mayor of Valdosta, John Fretti, spoke at City Hall about the recent Council Retreat and the goals that were set forth for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. The city’s goals include a stormwater runoff plan and an initiative to implement paperless utility billing.
Last year the City of Valdosta was victim to rampant flooding that destroyed many homes and businesses. At the retreat, Fretti asked state leaders to consider regional plants or man-made lakes that could be used to house excess runoff water.
“Water will control you if you don’t try to control it,” said Fretti. “We have to ask that everyone try to reduce water consumption.”
If the man-made lakes are developed, Fretti said that some of them could be used for recreational purposes if large enough.
Fretti argued that it is important for Valdosta to implement paperless billing as soon as possible. The retreat that the mayor and council members attended was completely paperless for the first time in 22 years. In addition to going paperless, the retreat was held only 29 miles away from the city. Fretti said that he did this to save money for the taxpayers.
“It’s a lean year with the reduced funding that we have,” said Fretti. “We believe that less paper is practical.”
Fretti also presented a plan to council to add a bike path to every road that is widened, to increase accessibility throughout the city. He admitted the difficulties in doing so, because of some of the public’s disinterest in adding extra bike paths.
“I think it would be too much trouble to add sidewalks to surrounding neighborhoods around VSU because it would be costly and the difference would go mostly unnoticed,” Joshua Hunter, freshmen journalism major, said.
When discussing the difficulties of adding bike paths, Fretti spoke about something he calls N.I.M.B.Y., or “Not in my backyard,” in which residents feel bike paths are usually a good idea, but not in their own neighborhood. Permission has to be granted from property owners before construction can begin. A bike master plan can be found at www.valdostacity.com and includes a map with planned routes.
While at the retreat, the city council developed an overall goal of improving city conditions and part of that could include posting the top 100 worst-looking properties. Fretti said that he realizes that could be a drastic step, but described littered yards as a “crime of aesthetics.”
Valdosta State journalism students and their instructor, VSU English professor Ted Geltner, were in attendance at City Hall while the mayor spoke, and were able to ask him questions about his new goals for the fiscal year in a live press event setting.
“I like to bring my students to City Hall to allow them to experience how actual government works and to get the chance to interview actual sources, because I think that helps their development as writers,” Geltner said.

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