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Alpharetta Residents Repeat Complaints, Praise About City Center

City Council and local residents heard an update and an explanation of the current plan from the city's lead architect for the project at Monday night's meeting.

Alpharetta residents heard the second update on the City Center project in as many weeks, and comments fell along the same lines as before in support and against the current plan.

Accusations were thrown out that the city already had plans to make plans to change the new Haynes Bridge Road route from two lanes to four. But those were dismissed by Pete Sewczwicz, director of Engineering and Public Works. He told those local residents at Monday night's City Council meeting that the widening that is suspected is because it will include four-foot wide bike lanes and an eight-foot wide sidewalk.

"The roundabout stays, yes," he said. "The road was specifically designed for 25 mph, so I can't post it any higher than 25 mph."

Sewczwicz's comments followed a presentation by the city's architect for the project, David M. Schwarz, and comments by local residents.

Schwarz explained the general design of the City Center plan to follow the idea of a small, compact downtown center that mirrors the west side of Main Street in some respects. Small blocks of land bisected by narrower city streets that still meet fire department needs are envisioned, but with a larger section formed by the 8.5 acres that will include Brooke Street Park, a new City Hall and the Atlanta-Fulton County Library's new library branch.

This western side would have multiple trail entrances into the property from Academy Street, Haynes Bridge Road and a new narrow "E" Street that follows the general route of the existing Haynes Bridge Road. The park would still include an open area that exists on the site now, with a bandstand downslope for public events such as concerts and plays.

The 0.9 acre town green would front Main Street and include a water feature such as a fountain, grass, trees and benches. Streets surrounding it would include parking in front of 20-foot wide sidewalks that allow enough room for outside seating at restaurants, trees and other plantings. Schwarz said the interior city streets created would not be designed to affect downtown traffic flow, and all or some of them could be closed for events such as farmers' markets and festivals.

City Hall remains sited on what is considered the park property as a focal point, but Mayor David Belle Isle said alternate locations will be considered. He added the parking garage location also will be considered after hearing public comment.

Alexander Williamson returned to City Hall to comment for the Academy Park homeowners' board, saying their views were shared by many of the community's residents.

"To offer more commercial space over the comforts of so many residents is wrong," Williamson said.

He said relocating City Hall farther east as shown in the original concept plan created in 2011 was essential for his community. Academy Park is located east of residences that are along the old Brooke Street now being used as part of Haynes Bridge Road's new route.

Larry Attiq spoke in support of City Council moving ahead with its plans. He said the current plan is a good one, designed by professionals the city selected.

"I feel like we are going to mob rule; whoever screams the loudest we are going to listen to," Attiq said. The council and mayor were elected to represent residents, he said. "I trust you and I want you to move forward."

Dina Franch disagreed with Attiq, saying she backed a City Center as shown by the 2011 conceptual plan because it was pedestrian friendly. The concerns that Schwarz shared about retail businesses requiring streets in front of their storefronts weren't concerns shared by the public, she said.

She didn't like hearing about the future of the eastern side of what's the new Haynes Bridge Road route including possible commercial development, as Academy Park already feels that it is losing its buffer with City Hall being located in the park. And she felt a 450-space parking garage that costs $9 million is too much.

"We don't know how mch parking we are going to need," French said.

Above all, she asked for the public to have time to discuss the plan as it had during the development of the 2011 conceptual plan.

Mayor David Belle Isle said the updates planned for every City Council meeting until a final plan is adopted provide just what she's asking to have.

Art Trotter was another Alpharetta resident who spoke in favor of the plan again at this meeting as he did at the Aug. 6 meeting. He praised the presentation Schwarz put together.

"It's a wonderful package. I love it; let's do it," Trotter said.

See Also*

– Aug. 7, 2012

– July 31, 2012

– July 10, 2012

– June 19, 2012

– June 7, 2012

– March 6, 2012

– April 11, 2012

– Dec. 20, 2011

– Oct. 23, 2011

– July 30, 2011

– July 26, 2011

– July 17, 2011

– July 15, 2011

– June 30, 2011

– June 8, 2011

– May 3, 2011

* Dates shown are the dates articles first appeared, which usually meant one day after City Council meetings.

Larry Attig August 19, 2012 at 03:24 PM
It was agreed that all parties liked the idea of a campus type atmosphere. However, the architect also made it clear that in an effort to have a vibrant environment with restaurants and shops it was going to be necessary to have street access. He also pointed out that these are not thoroughfares. Think of streets more like Old Roswell Street and Old Canton Street on the west side of Main Street.
No Name August 19, 2012 at 06:52 PM
As much as I prefer the campus-like setting, I can see the need for streets. Maybe it could be designed with an eye toward a pedestrian-only mall if/when the area becomes established? Then again, maybe a pedestrian only mall could be Alpharetta's niche since every other town is doing exactly the same thing we are (generally speaking). How many downtowns can reasonably be sustained if they are all pretty much carbon copies of one another? There is some worry that people will use the through streets as a cut-through, especially during peak traffic times. Seems like it would be really useful to have that traffic study data first.
Larry Attig August 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM
As much as a pedistrian only seems like a good idea, Mr. Schwartz pointed out that many cities who have tried that concept by closing off streets to pedestrian only mall settings have in recent years abandon the idea and have now opened streets up to traffic and parking. With Main Street and Haynes Bridge Road bordering the the City Center they both seem to be more likely choices for traffic movement. Think of using the streets of The Avenue Forsyth as a cut through to save time. It really doesn't seem to be practical.
No Name August 19, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Interesting article on pedestrian malls. http://www.concentratemedia.com/features/pedestrianmalls0175.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ConcentrateMedia+%28Concentrate+Media%29
No Name August 19, 2012 at 08:57 PM
More ped mall data. http://www.nfta.com/pdfs/Appendix%20A.pdf

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