Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Chateau Alpharetta website lampoons city's proposed project

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 10:02 PM

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Oh, North Fulton. Y'all are so wacky up there.

The City of Alpharetta recently began presentations of a proposed government complex to replace the two-story building it currently calls home.

The vision: a $69 million city-center project complete with storefronts, a fountain and a grassy area where residents can ostensibly fly kites. There'll be also be a new park. According to the artist's sketch at right, the adjoining parking lot will be complete anarchy, as gray cars will be allowed to park wherever they choose. Big Government will literally overshadow nearby churches. Aside from that, CL's urban-planning team thinks this will be a good project because there might be kites.

But not everybody's cool with the idea. The project, which would be backed by $25 million in municipal bonds, must first be approved by voters on the November ballot. And the city's got some very visible — and creative — opposition: Chateau Alpharetta, a website that lampoons the project as an opulent moneywaster, one which the taxpayer is "cordially invited to pay for."

Who's behind the site? A former CL columnist of course!

Jeff Berry, an Alpharetta resident and former ink-stained wretch of the Loaf family, confirmed in a Monday phone call with CL that he's behind Chateau Alpharetta. Berry's the same rabble-rouser behind the 2007 website DUIDebbie.com, which included a video of former Alpharetta City Councilwoman Debbie Gibson's arrest that year for — yep — driving under the influence. The site popped up during Gibson's campaign for re-election. She lost that race, but the website lives on sans video.

Berry says he was inspired to create Chateau Alpharetta after hearing councilmembers bicker about the city receiving federal stimulus funds. (They did it again on Monday.) He thought it ironic that some councilmembers would oppose the federal government initiative and then propose something that could be considered unnecessary government spending.

"They made a show about how they don't believe in big government taxes and spending," Berry said. "And here they are wanting $25 million so they can build this big government palace."

The site includes an audio "tour" of the project narrated by a fictitious butler named Wilman de Monet. In it, Monet — voiced by Berry — humorously explains why the city needs the development. There are also mini-profiles of the councilmembers, mayor and city employee whom Berry says are pushing the city-center idea. Two other parts of the site drop the humorous tone and outline what Berry thinks are serious problems with the proposed project — namely, it puts the city at financial risk and will cause taxes to increase.

Whatever the case may be, thank you for this distraction from the chaos we're experiencing south of Hwy. 400. We here in dysfunctional Atlanta love this kind of stuff.

(Full disclosure: I was a staff writer at the Alpharetta Neighbor in 2005.)

(Graphic courtesy of Chateau Alpharetta/City of Alpharetta)

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