Development Authority supports Whitlock Avenue sidewalk plans
by Rachel Miller
May 10, 2013 12:00 AM | 2236 views | 6 6 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Before Thursday’s meeting of the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, Chairman Thomas Browning said the proposed Franklin Road bond project would have a ripple effect that would improve the entire city.

“This could be our golden mile,” said Browning, who added that he would like to see people who work in town, but commute home to East Cobb, Paulding or Cherokee, find a nice place to live in Marietta.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the Urban Redevelopment Plan was expanded to include economically depressed sections along Whitlock Avenue.

James Eubanks, a large property owner and DMDA board member, said he favors maneuvering money to pockets of areas that are in need, but does question the slum label that is attached to the bond projects.

“I would caution not to throw one large sum of money at a problem area,” said Eubanks, who added that he would prefer the city to look at multiple areas instead of one portion.

If voters approve a bond to fund projects in distressed areas, Whitlock Avenue could be lined with sidewalks.

At the close of the DMDA meeting, members talked about the needs of young mothers walking to the Square, and if the plans would include a bike path or widening the road.

Eubanks said, while he is undecided about the Franklin Road bond project, he fully supports sidewalk projects.

Any property within 2 to 3 miles of the Square should have a sidewalk to encourage Marietta citizens to exercise, as well “develop a sense of community and knowing your neighbors,” said Eubanks.

Dave Reardon, DMDA board member and owner of Shillings on the Square, said that sidewalks are always good to add, if possible, because of the increasing safety needs.

But Reardon said that he did not feel a Whitlock project would increase foot traffic into the Square.

“I don’t believe anyone in Georgia wants to walk anywhere,” Reardon said.

Discussion of tall buildings

Other recent business developments on the Square were on the minds of DMDA members Thursday.

Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court denied hearing a case that would allow Marietta City Councilman Philip Goldstein to erect a five-story building at the corner of North Park Square and Root Street.

Reardon said that he wasn’t opposed to Goldstein’s office space, but that anything built on that property needs to match the surrounding facades, which includes his restaurant.

Reardon said that the proposed building “was not much different” from tall government buildings in the area.

Eubanks served on the Historic Board of Review when Goldstein first presented the plan a couple of years ago.

“It was a charming design, with a retro feel, that was also contemporary and fresh,” said Eubanks, who said he feels that a tall building can work downtown, but not in that specific location because of the neighboring shorter buildings.

Goldstein owns another vacant building a few spaces away at 105 North Park Square, which still has a large marquee from its theater days.

Goldstein said that although it is set up for a restaurant, he would consider a retailer moving in.

He added that there has been increased interest in his rental spaces on the Square in the last few months.

“As a person who works on the Square, goes to church on the Square, and lives a half mile from the Square,” Eubanks said that he wants to continue the type of restaurant development that has started downtown to “cater to different palates.”

One local eatery, Tommy’s Sandwich Shop, closed at the end of March.

Amanda Sutter, Economic Development Project Manager, said she knows Manning Properties has two or three different prospects for the open space. Sutter said that she expects the owners will be narrowing down to a decision soon.

Program sponsorships

The DMDA members had a big decision of their own to make at this month’s meeting.

The board unanimously approved sponsoring 13 programs operating in the downtown district.

Johnny Fulmer and Paula Goldstein Shea abstained from voting because of their ties with some of the organizations requesting money.

The $105,250 to be administered is a significant, one-time increase to show the board’s confidence and commitment to the area, said Eubanks.

The yearly support for events, such as the July 4th Parade, concert series, farmers’ market and Art Walks, “pushes the trend of economic recovery” on the Square, according to Eubanks.
Comments
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Breuckelen
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June 10, 2013
As a new homeowner of the Whitlock area, I feel strongly that a sidewalk extension running all the way from Manning to the Marietta Square is needed. Regardless of the views about increasing walking traffic, the bottom line is that its embarrassing to have a main road leading up to your city jewel, Glover Park, with a partial sidewalk. Yes this is the south and people love their cars, but people don't always want to use their cars. On nice days, people like the option of walking or riding a bike up to the square. And in turn the safety of the citizenry is increased and the value of our homes will benefit.
Business not blight
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May 10, 2013
The problem on Whitlock is not blight. It is business property owners. Cite them for code violations, then seize the neglected and dangerous properties, raze them, make parks. Who owns those abandoned strip malls anyway? It is a council cousin? Is that why they've been allowed to rot for 20 years?

Whitlock could use some sidewalks all the way between the Krogers and Northcutt. That much is obvious from the "deer" trails on both sides left by humans walking. Anywhere we have deer trails along roads, there should be sidewalks.

Also, anywhere we have uphills of greater than 2% grade, or where we have lots of turns, we should have bicycle lanes. Kennesaw Ave comes to mind as having both an uphill and lots of turns and the heaviest bicycle traffic in the area by FAR, but it was recently rebuilt with no bicycle lanes.

What is wrong with this place??? "You get into a car or you can just DIE!" <--- That mindset is what's wrong with this place.
Get Off My Roads
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May 10, 2013
Roads are made for motor vehicles. Bicycles do not belong on the road. Grow up like the rest of us did when we stopped riding bikes at age 13 or become a speed bump for my Chevy.
Dear GOMR
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May 10, 2013
Do you still want to be an astronaut, too?
Hello Reardon
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May 10, 2013
Mr Reardon,

You are hereby proven wrong in your belief "I don’t believe anyone in Georgia wants to walk anywhere."

I walk to the Square.

I regularly use a bicycle to commute to work.

I do both of these because I want to, because I am neither lazy nor dependent on any automobile.

I do own automobiles, but they are for my convenience. I use them occasionally, but prefer not to use them. If I have things to haul or if multiple people are traveling, I will opt for the automobile. Otherwise, I avoid the contraptions as they are extremely wasteful (Liberals invented them, did you know) and insanely dangerous.

The automobile's annual body count in the USA alone is 15 times that of the September 11 2001 body count, and that isn't counting the millions maimed annually by the automobile.

I would assert nobody in Georgia would want to drive anywhere if they stopped and thought about it. The car industry knows this, and that is why we are all constantly bombarded with 'driving is so sexy' commercials 24x7. Turn that stuff off for a few months and see if you don't start to think about walking somewhere yourself! Try it, you might like it!

Of course if the "buy bigger in the country" people got to you, you are over a barrel and probably cannot live without an automobile. To be able to walk, you have to live within walking distance of something other than more people who don't live within walking distance of anything.

Your life might be built on upside down thinking, but you can fix that if you just turn off the talking boxes that convince you not to.
Saleigh
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May 11, 2013
To Get off My Roads,

How arrogant are you! They are not YOUR roads, they are everyone's roads. Sidewalks and bike lanes are needed.

More people would walk and ride if they had a safe way to do it.
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