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Street closure big hit with Alive After 5 attendees
by Joan Durbin
July 25, 2012 03:11 PM | 1502 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For many merchants as well as the crowds of people who attended, closing down the southern leg of Canton Street for last Thursday’s Alive After Five event was the best thing that ever happened to the popular street festival.

But motorists who were caught in the initial traffic snarl might tell a different story. And at least one person whose commercial properties are located farther north on Canton Street wasn’t thrilled with the closure.

“You might say we had mixed reviews,” said Steve Acenbrak, Roswell’s director of transportation. “Bottom line, once you got there it was great. Access, especially the first few hours, was a challenge.”

Sally Johnson of the Historic Roswell Merchants Association said early feedback from district businesses has been positive. One restaurant owner, whose business is north of the traffic barrier at Canton and Norcross streets, reported the best Thursday night ever, Chandlery said.

And on the Alive After Five Facebook page, someone from Galerie Boutique wrote that it was “the best AA5 so far this year.” That business is on Canton almost equidistant from Norcross and Woodstock Road on the north.

But Doug Curling, managing principal of Kent Capital and owner of some buildings above Norcross Street, had a different view. Curling wrote in his Facebook comments that he “hated” the street closing and felt that it negatively affected businesses outside the closed-off area.

“I really liked having the portion of Canton Street shut down. It made for a MUCH more enjoyable experience. I didn’t feel I was having to fight with cars to move between shops, socializing with friends, etc.” wrote Roswell resident Randy Switts.

Carlos Baez wrote that it was “much safer and alleviates the extreme crowding on sidewalks and at the entrances to businesses.”

Many people wanted all of Canton Street closed off for the next event. But city officials note that residents on dead-end side streets like Goulding Street would be trapped if all of Canton Street were to be closed.

Merchants had long deferred the street closure issue because of concerns about encouraging a rowdy party atmosphere and that business on the north end of the street would be ruined, according to Johnson. Neither of these came true, Johnson said.

But worries about traffic congestion seemed to be borne out, at least early in the evening.

“Traffic early on was horrible. Steve [Acenbrak] was probably just about having a heart attack around 6 p.m.,” she said.

The situation eased around 6:30 p.m. and from then on the closure appeared to be a tremendous success.

“The city has received overwhelmingly positive comments from the public at the event, in emails to city hall and on our Facebook page,” said Roswell Communications Manager Julie Brechbill. “They like having Canton Street from Highway 9 to Norcross closed for the event.”

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