Task force created as Roswell leaders discuss Canton Street proposal

Roswell leaders, community members, and business owners discussed a recent pedestrian promenade plan by city leaders that would impact local businesses.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:26 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 11:43 PM EDT
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ROSWELL, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A new task force was created as some Roswell leaders, business owners, and community members discussed a controversial pedestrian promenade plan that could impact businesses.

Some people who have spoken out against a proposal to create a pedestrian-friendly promenade in Roswell say the process has been too fast. Starting on Memorial Day, the street was supposed to close through traffic during the summer on weekends.

“The way it was presented, wanting to close the street so quickly and have a temporary closing and do everything by Memorial Day was very wrong,” said Roswell resident Susan Tyser. “It’s a good thing for a task force to be formed but what I’m hoping is that they will select people who have invested interest in this area. I hope they don’t just select friends,” she said.

After many people have spoken out, the city and the mayor voted to pump the breaks and officially created a task force.

“As city administrator, I will work with our team, our staff here with the city, and some of our senior leadership members, and we will begin to develop the framework and criteria for appointments to the task force and also provide the perimeters and the responsibility for the task force,” said Roswell City Administrator Randy Knighton.

Some residents who spoke with Atlanta News First said they have been concerned about not being involved in the process from the start.

“I think that it’s too fast because if they’re going to come up with a whole bunch of criteria without discussing it with the stakeholders, the business owners, the property owners, and the residents. I think that that’s wrong and it’s still pushing it down our throats,” said Judie Raiford, a business and property owner.

Knighton said staff will provide council members with their recommendations next week.

“Provide the framework to the Mayor and Council in about a week’s time for their review and then ultimately, they will come back to the June 13 committee meeting where they will discuss it in full,” Knighton said. “From that committee meeting, should it move forward, the mayor and council will then take the next steps to formally adopt the criteria for the task force and appoint members,” he said. “We expect at the next full meeting there would be, potentially appointments to the task force either June 12 or June 13,” he said.

Some business owners are hoping the right people are at the table every step of the way.

“I think as so long as everyone who is a invested stakeholder in this gets a chance to bring their ideas to the table, and we get a chance to look at the parts of the process that will yield that outcome that will impact us, than I’m satisfied,” said Ryan Pernice, a business owner. “So, what I hope I take from this meeting is that there will be a task force. We will have a say,” he said.

“The task force will be charged with ultimately making recommendations to the mayor and council on the potential opening of the Canton Street Promenade,” Knighton said. “That task force when it is constructed, will discuss the various items that are pertinent to the Canton Street business owners, such as parking, traffic circulation, public safety and then bring recommendations back to the Mayor and Council for their ultimate decision,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Atlanta News First asked Knighton is there a specific timeline for the proposed promenade, and he “it’s still to be determined,”.

RELATED: Downtown Roswell business owners oppose city’s pedestrian promenade plan

In a 20-minute video posted to the city’s Facebook page earlier this month, Mayor Kurt Wilson described the promenade concept, saying he and other city leaders had been discussing it for 16 months.

He recently told Atlanta News First the plan would bring more people to the Canton Street District. However, many business leaders opposed the plan.

Several business owners recently said the plan was a total surprise to them, complaining that the mayor did not speak with them individually to get input. They said the biggest problem with closing off streets is that it takes away street parking in an area where parking is already hard to find.

“It’s a good thing for a task force to be formed,” said Tyser.

But some say things need to be done from here on out very slowly and carefully.

“What I’m hoping is that they will select people who have invested interest in this area. I hope they don’t just select friends,” Tyser said.

Roswell city staff are expected to provide council members with their recommendations next week.