The county and the city of Fayetteville are officially ready to work together on a road project aimed at increasing connectivity in the downtown Fayetteville area.
At the May 9 County Board of Commissioners meeting, Brian Wismer, downtown development director for Fayetteville, again came before the Board to pitch a plan for a road project to connect their new city hall with the county offices and the library.
In its early conceptual stages, the city will connect their new municipal headquarters and park space to roads owned by the county to help relieve stress on the downtown square as the area continues to grown. Roundabouts, raised medians, and speed tables will be used to limit speed, with the bulk of traffic directed out onto Ga. 85.
According to Wismer, the city had initially hoped to keep work to just their own roads, but, in order to preserve the old school bus barn on the property, they would need to move a lot of earth, along with installing a substantial retaining wall and a guard rail. By connecting to the library’s road, they can create a slope that he called “more welcoming and connected.”
“We really want to encourage the community to look at this as an inter-connected civic cluster of county and city amenities,” said Wismer. “We really want the library to feel connected to the park space. We want people to be able to check out a book and read it out in the park.”
Wismer noted that he had met with library staff and with County Public Works Director Phil Mallon and that all sides were on the same page with regards to the project.
The plan was met with mostly favorable responses from the commissioners. Chairman Randy Ognio expressed optimism about improved flow in the area and the possibility to increase parking for the library.
Commissioner Charles Oddo called it a step towards creating a needed street grid pattern in the area and suggested adding additional measures to the plan to slow down traffic.
“Another speed table or two might be good because I know I hate driving over them,” he said.
On the other hand, Commissioner Eric Maxwell expressed a gloomy outlook on the future of Fayetteville with the proliferation of apartment complexes in the downtown area. While he said he supports the new city hall project, he lamented the drastic change in the county he sees coming tied to apartments.
“I have serious concerns about putting 1,000 new people within a two block area with their cars. I know you want to make it a walkable community, but I just don’t see that happening,” he said. “Maybe that’s because I’m an old guy and I probably won’t be around here in 20 years to see what happens, but I’ve been here 45 years, and this town was a nice sleepy town that we’ve enjoyed for a number of years.”
He fears Fayetteville will turn into Riverdale.
“I came from the Riverdale area back in the 60s and the 70s, and I look and I see what they did up there, and that’s what I see going on here,” he said. “I probably am not going to see when this thing collapses.”
He said that while people may argue that these developments are different and will be managed better, it won’t last.
“For 10 years or so, we won’t notice anything,” he said. “I’m telling you, at some point that will turn, and I think that’s going to happen with these as well, particularly if we gridlock this city with traffic.”
With a 4-1 vote in support, and only Maxwell in opposition, the city of Fayetteville and the county are now free to develop intergovernmental agreement to build the connector road.