During the ensuing 29 years, the “corridor”, as the area of Johnson Ferry Road from the Chattahoochee River to Shallowford Road has come to be known, has seen many changes. But mostly it has remained inviting to both commercial and residential development, while still retaining the “quasi-pastoral” atmosphere which many of us find attractive and desirable.
I have seen Parkaire Landing go from a nondescript shopping center built around a circular ice rink to a vital shopping center attracting huge crowds.
I watched the quaint shops and streets at Merchants Walk disappear. In their place is a vibrant center housing a variety of opportunities for shopping.
I saw the golf driving range on Roswell Road, just west of Johnson Ferry, die and come back to life as The Avenues at East Cobb, the test model for a major breakthrough in shopping center design.
In the meantime, residential development has continued in the areas adjacent to Johnson Ferry Road.
You might question my purpose in pointing out this history. It’s quite simple. Throughout all these developments, and numerous others, the area has managed to retain its small-town character and ambience, as well as its originality.
However, there is trouble in Paradise. Some weeks ago I attended a public meeting during which the plan for the future of the Johnson Ferry Corridor was rolled out by the Cobb community development department. The aim of this plan appears to be to change the corridor into a replica of the neutered, antiseptic, uniform and unbelievably boring main street of a theme park.
The plan is to force all new development into a preset mold, so that everything looks like everything else. Yuck! Uniform street lights, uniform benches, uniform sidewalks, uniform trash receptacles, ad nauseam, add up to a nightmare for us who love the serenity of the small-town character that originally attracted us to the area.
During the presentation, the phrase “aesthetically pleasing” was used several times. Since that term is subjective, I asked the obvious question. “Who gets to determine what is aesthetically pleasing?” The response from a lady in the audience was, “We did.” I am not sure just who “we” are, or just how “we” or any group, gained the wisdom to determine what is aesthetically pleasing to me or anyone else. In fact, what we have now fills the bill quite nicely.
Anyway, it was obvious they had not anticipated that question. In asking it, I think I dropped a proverbial “clod in their churn.”
When the question of funding was brought up, we were quickly told that no taxpayer funding would be used, that this is going to be paid for by the developers, but that no developer would be forced to do anything he did not want to do. I think we all know how that works. “Conform or we will be less than congenial in the approval of the building permit.”
Let’s get back to the “no taxpayer funds” statement. That dog won’t hunt! First, it was county employees who developed the plan, county employees who wrote it and drew it up with all the nice little illustrations, county employees who dug up all the statistical information and county employees making the presentation at the meeting.
I am not sure what prompted all this. I have not heard any loud cry that Johnson Ferry Road is tacky, from any of the residents or merchants who have been here for any length of time. Most likely this move was engendered by some “Johnny-come-lately” group determined to force its tastes on the rest of the community.
My only consolation is that to accomplish this will take the better part of a quarter century, as it is aimed at a gradual metamorphosis as new developments come along. So, I won’t live to see this travesty come to fruition. Unfortunately for them, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to live with the boring, sterile world these folks will create.
It is for them, I make this plea, “We like it the way it is. If you object, feel free to relocate to an area more pleasing to you. Leave Johnson Ferry Road alone. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.