Kee Carlisle, who was voted committee chairman at Monday’s first meeting, said the 14-member group plans to try to find ways to use improved signage to help motorists find existing parking downtown. He said this can be an inexpensive alternative to building more parking garages.
“A large part of our problem is a communication problem,” said Carlisle, owner of Session Street Folk Art. “We do have parking in our garages, it’s just that people don’t know about it.”
Carlisle, who was appointed to the 20/20 Committee by the Downtown Branding Project, also said more could be done to direct visitors to such places as the Marietta Museum of History, which he also sits on the board for, and WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Improving traffic and parking is a priority for the newly appointed committee. Among the events it is preparing for is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which the city will commemorate in conjunction with the National Park Service in 2014.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said the event will bring in 1,000 re-enactors to recreate the battle, who will also bring their families.
“That in itself will probably be 1,000 hotel rooms,” Tumlin said.
The City Council created the committee for one year, though that could be extended. Tumlin said the “20/20” name is derived both from having vision for the future and for making sure the Square is prepared for the year 2020.
“I think 20/20 symbolizes that everything they’re going to look at will take more than one day,” he said. “How do we get to 2020?”
Other issues the committee plans to look at in the future include quieting railroad crossings along the Square, dealing with downtown trash bins and planting trees along streets, Tumlin said.
Most of the 12 committee members in attendance supported Carlisle for committee chairman. The only other candidate to be nominated was Carey Cox, who was appointed by Councilman Philip Goldstein and is the son of Marietta Museum of History founder Dan Cox. Carey Cox was nominated for chairman by businesswoman Paula Shea, Goldstein’s sister, who had been appointed by the Downtown Marietta Development Authority.
After approving Carlisle for chairman, the committee then named Cox vice chairman and Marietta Welcome Center head Theresa Jenkins, a Tumlin appointee, as secretary.
Tom Browning, the other DMDA appointee, and Leon Leak of the North Marietta Neighborhood Association, who is Councilman Anthony Coleman’s appointee, did not attend the first meeting.
Other Council appointees to the committee include businessman John Rossiter, appointed by Councilwoman Annette Lewis; high school science teacher Pic Petelle, who was appointed by Councilman Grif Chalfant; car dealer Lloyd Hildreth, who was appointed by Councilman Johnny Sinclair; Marilyn Massey, appointed by Councilman Andy Morris, and former Mayor Bill Dunaway, appointed by Councilman Jim King.
Downtown restaurant owners appointed Kelly Contreras of Marietta Pizza Co. to represent them; downtown churches selected Phyllis Miller, director of administration at Marietta First Baptist, and downtown merchants picked Randall Heard of the Marietta Wine Market.
As a folk artist, Carlisle sees himself as a visionary who can bring people together.
“I don’t want to do as some boards do and everybody blends into little cliques, and, instead of working together, works against each other,” he said.
While the committee will focus much of its attention on the Square, Carlisle said some issues will spill over into other parts of the city.
“When we start talking about traffic, that will involve more than the Square, because the traffic problem starts before you ever get to the Square,” he said.
Funding the projects the 20/20 Committee suggests to Council will create an issue of its own. But Tumlin said it’s better to have a plan in case funding does become available.
“Even if they come up with a dream list, you start looking,” he said. “Sometimes the state will help you. Sometimes the federal government will help you.”