The work session held at Roswell City Hall largely centered on parking and proposals for time managed closure of Canton Street.
While receptive to the possibility of temporary closures Mayor Jere Wood said he disapproved of a plan that would permanently shut down the street to automobile traffic.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “It’s just too extreme change.”
Discussions of east and west alley renovations focused primarily on parking solutions.
“I’m looking to get more people on Canton Street, and that means two things,” Wood said. “More parking and more retail spaces.”
He floated the idea of constructing multi-level decks with ground level retail and offices.
“What if we put a parking deck and filled everything south of the Roswell Historic Cottage?” Wood said.
Matthew Wilder, senior project manager at Pond and Co., said parking was definitely an issue. However, he said it was outside the scope of the East-West Alley master plan.
“We may lose some parking, we may gain some parking in places…but with what we’ve been tasked with, we can’t go outside the corridors that dictate where the parking is going to fill up,” he said.
Wilder, however, said that a deck is a “plausible” solution to parking problems in the area. Alice Wakefield, director of community development, also agreed that a deck was feasible.
Wood said the east alley would never reach its full potential until ground level parking was gone.
A proposal to make the east alley a one-way street, Councilman Jerry Orlans said, was the best option to increase pedestrian activity.
“Even if we go to a parking garage in the future, this still keeps traffic flow if that’s another option we look at,” he said.
Councilman Rich Dippolito said improving Alpharetta Highway visibility would benefit east alley businesses. “That’s where they’re going to get the drive-by traffic,” he said. “They really have to clean up the back sides of these buildings so it does feel like a two-sided street, even if it’s not.” A potential west alley parking deck was also discussed. “I do believe we are one shared use away from a very viable parking option,” Councilwoman Nancy Diamond said.
However, she does not believe there is enough volume in the area now to justify the construction of a deck.
“If we’re going to invest in anything,” she said, “I need to see where it benefits, where it really changes the environment.”