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McDonough Visioning Workshop offers 'blueprint' for development

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Diane Moore has been the owner of the Cat's Pajamas, a medical boutique on The Square in McDonough, for seven years. She said, although people visit her business from all over Georgia, many of them view the parking meters in the area in a negative light.

"They're incredulous that a town this size, and in 2011, still has parking meters," said Moore. "It's very rude to want them to come to our city, and then give them two hours to park, or give them a ticket."

Moore was among roughly 100 people, who attended sessions of a Visioning Workshop in the city this week. The workshop was designed to generate input from residents, regarding concepts for redeveloping the McDonough Square and its surrounding areas, according to Kathleen Field, McDonough's community development director.

"It was very productive," Field said Thursday, at a wrap-up session for the event. "We're going to take the results of this visioning exercise ... and then we're going to issue a final report in about four weeks. That vision will sort of set the blueprint for us to move forward with future planning studies, and future development scenarios."

The city partnered with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to conduct the four-day workshop. Field said the cost to put the event together is $10,000 -- half of which came from a Livable Centers Initiative Grant from the ARC.

The workshop began with a public meeting Monday to gauge people's likes and dislikes about the city, said Beth Hawes, senior planner in the commission's Land Use Division. "We covered a lot of different issues, from parking, to different design standards, to historic preservation, to pedestrian safety in The Square," said Hawes.

She added that another topic of concern, for many who came to the workshop sessions, centered on transportation on The Square. "We had some people from the Georgia Department of Transportation come in and give some recommendations on what you can do, considering that all four of those roads [on The Square] are state highways."

Hawes added that McDonough, through a grant from the ARC, will hire a consultant to focus on business retention and recruitment, connectivity and mobility on The Square, and design standards for the area, as a result of the workshop.

ARC representatives, on Thursday, gave an hour-long presentation for about 50 people, with findings gleaned from interaction with workshop participants.

Results from an image-preference survey revealed that residents favored more brick and stone buildings, and fully developed streetscapes in the city.

Lew Oliver, of the Roswell-based Whole Town Solutions design firm, showed what the city could look like, if certain adjustments were made.

McDonough resident, Jean Hanger, a member of McDonough's Historic Preservation Commission, was pleased by what transpired. "It's a fresh set of eyes looking at our town that so many people have lived in for so long," said Hanger. "It's nice to get new input."

Hanger added that she hopes any redevelopment projects do not detract from the city's character. "I want to keep the charm of The Square and the surrounding areas," she said. "I don't want to lose that small-town feel."

For more information on the workshop, call (770) 957-3915.