(ROSWELL, Ga.) — Roswell leaders have decided to create a task force to study the proposed closure of Canton Street to vehicular traffic. The idea has rankled many business owners, who say the city should first build a parking deck and make other preparations before shutting down the street.
Mayor Kurt Wilson has been the biggest proponent of the closure, saying it would make the entertainment district safer and boost businesses by creating more foot traffic.
In April, city officials announced plans to close the street between Labor Day and Memorial Day. But many business owners say that’s the first time they heard of the proposal and accused the mayor of not being transparent.
They told WSB-TV′s Bryan Mims business owners should be included in discussions. The plan to close the street has now tapped on the brakes as the city develops a task force to study the issue. Wilson said last week that he encourages dialogue with the business owners.
“Is this an idea worth pursuing? Then how do we get there?” he said. “Let’s start throwing stuff on the wall and let’s be engaged and let’s be elegant together and let’s be in conversation together.”
Jenna Aronowitz, owner of 1920 Tavern, said she welcomes a task force but wants all stakeholders to have a voice. “It can’t be just business owners,” she said. “It has to be residents as well because we’re a mixed-use neighborhood. We’re not just a business district.”
She said closing the street would drive business away. When the street periodically shuts down for special events, she said, business suffers.
“Every time they close the street, we lose sales. We have the data,” she said if the busy street closes to vehicular traffic, business owners would “lose our main source of advertising. 12,000 cars a day go past our restaurant sign. How do we go and get 12,000 people to go past our sign?”
The city council set a deadline for next Tuesday to draft guidelines and criteria for the proposed task force.
Council member Peter Vanstrom said he likes the idea of a pedestrian promenade but thinks the city should slow the process down.
“I think we put the cart before the horse just a little bit, and that can happen,” he said. “This council and mayor are so enthusiastic for bringing so many great changes to Roswell, and sometimes we get a little ahead of ourselves.”
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