New Downtown Alpharetta Parking Deck Proposal

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Monday night the City of Alpharetta held a public meeting to unveil the new proposal for more taxpayer subsidized parking in downtown Alpharetta. It was great to see so many people show up for the meeting and most of the feedback I heard there and in the days since has been largely supportive.

Some people told me they have concerns about the cost and doubt the need for taxpayers to spend $8 million to build parking for downtown businesses. One of the commercial property owners downtown told me that the new plan still wouldn’t be enough. And others told me that the city should build all of the parking next to the cemetery and none on the Old Roswell Street site at all.

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But in general most of the people who took the time to share their thoughts about the new plan feel it is a reasonable compromise between the previous proposals. The new plan would build 187 new parking spaces on Milton Avenue next to the cemetery at a cost of about $5 million. It would also add 80 parking spaces on the site between Roswell Street and Old Roswell Street behind Smokejack at a cost of about $3 million bringing the total projected cost for the two decks to just over $8 million total.

I am including a few pictures here but if you aren’t familiar with the new proposal I highly recommend that you review all of the materials available on the city website here. Our staff did a tremendous job assembling all of the relevant supporting materials there.

The final decision will likely be made during Monday night’s Alpharetta City Council meeting so please take the time to look at the new plan if you haven’t already and let us know your thoughts. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

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Alpharetta Downtown Parking Discussion Continues

 

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Last year the City of Alpharetta began exploring options for spending more than 7 million dollars of taxpayer money to provide additional parking for downtown businesses. Several public meetings were held but no consensus was formed as to what would be the best solution. The option preferred by many of the downtown business owners was adamantly opposed by many of the residents who the parking was intended to attract.

Based on that dilemma our mayor and council decided to go back to the drawing board with the intent of developing a plan which better addressed the concerns of both the local businesses and the residents being asked to pay the bill. So over the past few months members of our community development department worked with a new design team to come up with a plan that would do a better job of balancing the needs of downtown businesses with the vision presented to us by Alpharetta residents.

On Monday, February 13th, the city will be unveiling the new idea to the public. The meeting will be held at City Hall from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

I hope that all of you will make the time to attend the unveiling. This is an important decision for our city’s future and we would very much like to hear your thoughts. Once the new design has been made public I will post it here for those of you who can’t make the meeting next week.

 

 

 

 

Alpharetta’s Downtown Parking Deck Discussion

Over the past few weeks there have been several public meetings to discuss where the taxpayers of Alpharetta should spend millions of dollars to build a multistory parking deck on the west side of Main Street downtown. As part of that initiative the city recently spent more than a million dollars to acquire land on Milton Avenue which could be used for a parking deck in addition to two potential sites located on public parking lots nearby.

On September 19th, 2016 the first public discussion about preferred options for adding a parking deck downtown was held during a workshop at City Hall. The video is available online here and the parking lot discussion begins at the 16 minute mark of the video. The City of Alpharetta website also has more supporting materials here.

At the meeting on the 19th an overwhelming majority of Alpharetta residents opposed putting a parking deck on site A, shown above on the left. Instead they preferred site D, shown above on the right. Those same sentiments have consistently been supported  by comments I have received at other meetings as well as the numerous emails and phone calls I have gotten from constituents.

Before the public was allowed to comment about their preferences of deck location I was largely agnostic as to which location was preferable. Of the three options presented above I felt options A and D were preferable but my concerns were primarily about their comparable size, scale and costs.

Both A and D have advantages and disadvantages and I wanted to hear from the people of Alpharetta before making a decision. Now that the people of Alpharetta have had a chance to provide their input it is clear their preference is for site D. There are many objective reasons for supporting site D but in addition to their objective points many residents also voice their opposition to site A based on a subjective evaluation that it would destroy the small town setting they want downtown.

Site A is definitely closer to businesses along Main Street but site D is certainly a viable option. If there was evidence site D was too far away from the commercial properties along Main Street I would never have supported Mayor Belle Isle and the rest of our council when we spent more than a million dollars to purchase it in the first place. So both A and D are viable options and would be a great improvement over the current parking situation downtown.

The major difference I see at this point is that many of the commercial property and business owners around site A prefer it because it is 400 feet closer to their properties while the residents who have no financial  interest in either location prefer site D because that spot best preserves their vision for the future of downtown Alpharetta. Both sides have reasonable positions and neither is wrong. They just have different priorities and visions for downtown.

For now I will continue to work with our council, our staff, the public and local business owners to pursue a solution that addresses everyone’s concern. But many people are asking where I stand on this issue and they deserve an honest response so if I had to choose either site A or D today I would vote for site D on Milton Avenue.

For years Mayor Belle Isle has spoken about his goal of wanting the people of Alpharetta to call this their “hometown”. Now hundreds of people care passionately enough about downtown to speak up about what they want the heart of their hometown to be. It is an exciting sign that we are finally achieving “hometown” status.

So after years of trying to make Alpharetta the city our residents will call their hometown, I am far more concerned about what happens if those people lose faith we are making this the place they want it to be than I am about walking an extra 400 feet from the parking deck. We can always build a parking deck on site A if it becomes necessary in the future… but if we lose the faith of people who now call Alpharetta their hometown there is nothing this mayor and council will ever be able to do to regain it.