Roswell Road remade as “Roswell Boulevard” with a tree-lined median? That’s among the “big ideas” coming out of Sandy Springs’ “Next Ten” planning process.
“It’s more than just a land-use plan. It’s a vision for the community,” said Mayor Rusty Paul, introducing a presentation on the work thus far for the Next Ten—combining a revision of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, a rewrite of its zoning code and detailed plans for certain areas.
Perimeter Center and the northern and southern stretches of Roswell Road are those “Small Area Plans” currently in draft form.
The concepts were met with interest and curiosity by at least 70 residents who attended a community workshop, held Jan. 27 at the Sherwood Event Hall on Roswell Road.
The sheer scope of the vision—from mixed-use “nodes” along a new tree-lined “Roswell Boulevard” to a kind of Central Park for Perimeter Center—appeared to engage the crowd, but also kept it quietly thoughtful.
The general thrust of the planning is more mixed-use redevelopment and reducing car travel. But the consultant team, led by Rhodeside & Harwell, is adding some bigger proposals that would transform entire areas, such as routing some form of alternative public transit east-west through central Sandy Springs. And a much-discussed idea of a Sandy Springs monorail was talked about some more.
Some highlights include:
- Roswell Road becoming “Roswell Boulevard,” with its central “suicide lane” for turns converted into a tree-lined median on the northern stretch and a grass median on the southern leg. Large sidewalks or multi-use paths could line much of the street as well.
- Possible trails following the city’s several east-west streams as connectors between green spaces, or as links to urban spaces and the Chattahoochee River.
- Speaking of the Chattahoochee, pedestrian bridges to connect to its parkland in Cobb and Roswell are another idea.
- Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in Perimeter Center becoming a main boulevard, with a 50- to 75-foot right of way on the west side becoming either a massive green space with wide paths or a possible bus route.
High Point resident Dan DiLuzio, who also works in Sandy Springs, said at the Jan. 27 workshop that his only concern with the plans so far is that some of it might not happen.
“It really looks good. Everything is top-notch,” DiLuzio said. “I’m just afraid, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, it’s [going to face] the ‘not in my backyard’ contingent.”
Kristen Madison was trying to figure out what such changes might mean for her family business, the FASTSIGNS shop on the downtown stretch of Roswell Road.
“I think it’s pretty ambitious,” Madison said, adding she likes the city’s focus on traffic and aesthetics. “We’re trying to determine if our business will be properly placed in a mixed-use environment….Now it’s like, ‘Where do I fit in?’”
Transportation consultant Karina Ricks of Nelson\Nygaard had several ideas for unclogging the area’s traffic, largely geared toward increasing alternative modes, improving east-west connections, and adding circulator shuttles or buses to connect to MARTA.
But she also had a public transit idea to spark some imaginations. She called for bringing back the Georgia Department of Transportation’s longstanding notion of some sort of public transit along the top end of I-285—but, instead of keeping it literally on the highway, routing it through Sandy Springs near the City Springs redevelopment.
“It may be easy to put it on the interstate…[but] the better move is to put it where people are living and working,” Ricks said at the Sandy Springs City Council retreat Jan. 26.
What might that public transit be? Ricks presented images and simple cost estimates of many alternatives—from dangling gondolas and monorails to conventional trains and buses.
Mayor Paul said Sandy Springs couldn’t afford to create something like that on its own, but could consider partnering with neighboring cities. “We can lead on getting other people to the table,” the mayor said. “You notice we start talking about a monorail and next thing you know, Brookhaven and Chamblee are talking.”
The Next Ten process is only about halfway through its projected timeline, with plans for the Powers Ferry Landing and MARTA station areas yet to be presented, and the zoning code rewrite just beginning. Paul emphasized that community input remains key in this rough-draft phase.
“I know what you’re thinking—‘The city’s already decided to do this,’” the mayor said, explaining that all of the ideas are still flexible. “This is just to get the thought processes going in the community…I see the wheels turning. We’ve succeeded in doing what we wanted to do—get you thinking.”
Now it’s time for feedback, Paul said. For ways to give that feedback, see the planning process site at thenext10.org.