The news broke like a fifth at the Bottle Shop: Five Points is leaving Athens! At least, that’s the word from a stealth committee holding itself out online as the City of Five Points Exploratory Committee. In their opening salvo, they justify their actions with a reference to the movement in Atlanta for Buckhead to break away and form a rich enclave.
Our committee is serious: “With unmatched residential, commercial, and retail space, the City of Five Points could thrive as an independent community committed to safe streets, high performing schools, and economic development and prosperity.”
No need to go into code words here, but, you know, the committee has its work cut out for it. Whose schools would these be? Is the committee contemplating secession from the Clarke County School District, too?
For that matter, whose fire station? Whose streets and curbing and traffic signals? The assumption is, of course, that COFP would have its own police force, even though it would have no crime of its own. Some of us might still try to break through to buy a book at Avid or a bottle at the Shop, so somebody would have to monitor our behavior.
The guiding idea of the exploratory committee seems to be that we’re rich and successful, so why should we pay taxes to support the rest of the town that is not up to our standards? That’s a fair question, and it will no doubt be thoroughly debated by those in the Five Points area who are not keen on being taken into a new city.
But wait. Who’s to say Normaltown shouldn’t bolt? We’ve got our businesses, our brewery, our medical school—who needs Athens? Uh, oh. Boulevard will want to go out, too, and we’re liable to have border wars again, though maybe the economic power of Five Points will force us to combine as the City of Normlevard.
If Five Points secedes, there’s nothing to stop Newtown, East Athens or the far-flung Eastside from following suit, and of course the University System of Georgia will be forced to incorporate Uga City to hold on to its properties that could be considered Five Points. Is the stadium in Five Points? Surely the track field and Butts-Mehre are. Is the botanical garden? The science center?
Ah, there’s the rub. Where and how do you draw the lines? Where is Five Points, anyway? And as they draw their lines, will the committee respect the dissenters and allow them to opt out, creating a crazy quilt city limits? Or, abetted by compliant legislators, will COFP just level a preemptive strike that incorporates the new city, and anybody who doesn’t like it can just damn leave?
There’s no need to be nostalgic about dear old Athenstown. What has it done for us lately, anyway? The COFP committee is not looking backward, but forward.
“Right now, local cityhood advocates are using highly advanced modeling programs to determine the feasibility of cityhood.
“We are also reviewing the historic boundaries of Five Points and surrounding areas, assessing demographics, and charting growth throughout Athens-Clarke County, Oglethorpe, and Oconee Counties.”
Wait a minute! This thing may be bigger than we thought. We all know that our local legislators can do anything they want to us in Atlanta. Does this mean that COFP’s cherry-picking might reach across county lines and, say, create a municipality that incorporates, for instance, all those businesses along the Oconee Connector, including doctors’ offices and law firms, too? Can this new city reach into Oglethorpe County and incorporate Wolfskin? Can it grab Athens Academy? For that matter, maybe they’re negotiating with the Board of Regents to include the whole university campus into the City of Five Points, a burb more amenable to UGA, without restrictions like mask mandates or drinking hours.
We’ll just have to wait for the answers to all these questions. After their startling newsbreak, the committee has left us for now with nothing but its bare-bones, unsigned website which promises: “We are running a volunteer-based, streamlined operation but will ramp up following the 2022 Legislative Session. Stay tuned for updates!” It’s possible that this whole endeavor may turn out to be a tempest in a tallboy, anyway, though. The Realtors™ have already extended Five Points to include all of Athens.
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