Envision Main Street

Alpharetta will host two design meetings with the public to discuss its Main Street. The focus is on the road from Old Milton to Windward Parkways and other transportation issues. Both sessions will be held at the Devore House, 34 Church Street, from 5 until 9 pm. The first session is tomorrow, March 13. The second is Tuesday March 26.

The sessions are designed to be a drop-in type of function so you need not plan to be there the entire time.

A consultant is likely to show a collection of drawings and photographs to measure likes and dislikes. I would encourage participants to think outside of these pictures as much as possible. Occasionally facilitators of programs like this employ the Delphi Technique in an attempt build consensus around a predetermined outcome.  If your idea isn’t being shown, say so!

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Main Street. We’ve talked about the turn lanes at Old Milton, traffic flow, medians and the intersections at Mayfield and Vaughn. If you’ve voiced concern on any of these then I encourage you to show up at a design session. You can also visit a website set up for the project at envisionmainstreetalpharetta.com .

19 Responses to “Envision Main Street”

  1. Julie Hogg March 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    This is a strange, brave, new world ….this world of “what do you think of Rucker Road?” “What do you think of Main Street?” “What do you think of City Center?” The bottom line is that the information gatherers will randomly focus on every 10th or 20th parcel of information or gather the most popular bits of information and then use the information to press forward with their plans in the best public relations light possible. I’ve never heard of Delphi technique – I’m only using common sense. Fact is, no city politician or staff anywhere has time to actually use the information gathered in the way the residents think and hope it will be used. To quote a recent viral video, “I ain’t got time for dat.” and also “they ain’t got time for dat.”
    This is overkill on the information gathering. Yes, I want to believe they hear me but this Council is using the “town square input” in the worst possible way….to make you THINK they are listening. We need to look at what they are DOING…not all these fine sounding “we really want to hear you”.!!! No, they don’t! They want to do what they want to do!

  2. Envision format not great March 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Julie, The problem with the Envision format is that input is one-on-one. I much prefer an open forum so that everyone can hear everyone else’s feedback. Unless they are doing audio recording of everyone’s individual input that can be accessed by the public, it is too easy to manipulate the input to achieve the result they wanted to get from the outset. They can claim that you are the lone voice expressing a point of view and there is no way to contradict it — it is their word against yours. But people talk amongst each other and have a good idea when they are being bamboozled. People are catching on and they aren’t fooling many people anymore.

  3. Julie Hogg March 13, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    @ above…excellent point. I grow weary of these PR farces. They are pedagogical in style and patronizing in intent. But mainly, how can I trust anyone who erects a giant sign with his name on it (does that actually meet the standards of our sign ordinance) at the corner of Hw. 9 and Old MIlton? Here is my input for the above design of Main Street- gauche and tawdry signs advertising law firms are not allowed.

  4. James Drinkard (City of Alpharetta) March 13, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Tonight’s Envision Main Street Alpharetta charette will feature a mix of individual and group exercises, so we hope that you will consider participating. For those who are unable to attend, an easy way to be involved in this process is to visit the project website and take the online visual character preference survey (available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/envisionmainstreet). That takes only a few minutes, but the input it provides is very important to this process.

  5. Julie Hogg March 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Anyway, this City Council can charrette the daylights out of us but as long as they continually thumb their noses at the CLUP and recommendations of Planning Commission; as long as they work with developers at the expense of the environment; as long as they continue to add misery via traffic flow to places like Rucker via the approval of more subdivisions, we know what they are truly all about. DBI campaigned specifically to fight changes to high density for Alpharetta and yet, he has been the candidate of density. It actually marks his time here – that and the huge awkward sign at his law firm.

  6. phatnate March 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    @Julie…If you are “friends” with Avalon on Facebook, they do the same thing. They ask all their FB friends to pick things for Avalon all the time. They are always asking what businesses do you want to see? When really it’s all about what business is going to pay the fee to lease the space at Avalon? They even asked what color the marble on their signage should be. I found it rather odd that a $500 million development needs help picking the color of the marble for their signage. You would think that would be an important design element.

  7. Kim March 13, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    That law firm sign is ridiculously large and the motives for rerouting traffic to that corner are now extremely suspect. Maybe we can put large “Belle Islands” signs in the new medians that blow out tires on Main Street. Surely he is proud of that legacy — yet another failed campaign promise.

  8. Will March 13, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    They don’t ask for input, get angry. They ask for input, complain. Tough crowd here.

    Hate that I missed it — had class tonight. However, I’ll be there next week. Probably just to waste my time because they are going to do what they want, right?

  9. Julie Hogg March 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Yes, I have asserted more than once that several on this Council study at the school of North American Properties marketing. Did I not write a blog about that recently?: ‘Developer Spin vs. the Way It Is” – somehow we all expect a multi million dollar company to spin things and get away with it, but when City Council’s start using the same tactics….something is wrong.

  10. Kim March 13, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    After having visited the Envision Main survey several things jump out.

    1. The very name “Main Street” makes people think of downtown even though the focus is Windward to Old Milton. It only mentions the focus area in one place and that is at the bottom of a long page of print. This is a clever marketing ploy intended that could be used to skew the results, IMO. What people would want for downtown vs. the rest of Hwy 9 should look very different. The survey doesn’t differentiate this or highlight the focus area.

    2. The one picture depicting the current road at Mayfield is a gray-sky winter picture while the rest in the portfolio are full foilage pictures. Surely Alpharetta has more than this one photo on file. There is a lot that can be done with visuals to nudge people’s opinions.

    3. Pictures elicit an emotional response rather than a reasoned response regarding daily function. It places form ahead of function. When the rubber hits the road (no pun intended), people won’t like it if it doesn’t function for them, no matter how pretty it looks.

  11. Lee March 13, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    I agree with Kim’s comment. Consultants can do a lot to move opinion in one direction or another. The photography might be better on pictures they want to score higher. Or perhaps they will show more traffic gridlocked on the less desirable pics versus wide open spaces otherwise.

    I just have a distrust of consultants. I’d much rather see a format similar to what the city did for Rucker Road a few weeks back. No consultant, no charettes, just feedback.

  12. Kim March 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    I wasn’t involved in the Rucker Road meetings but from what I heard second-hand, I, too, think that was a better approach.

    There is no need to hire consultants if you are just seeking feedback. Consultants get paid what they do for a reason.

    I think it is odd that even the same name “Envision” is used as was over in Woodstock now that the Community Development Director who came from Woodstock is now here. Go check out “Envision Ridgewalk” and see what people thought about the form-based zoning that came out of that. There had better not be form-based zoning that comes out of this because it is an assault on property owners. Anti-American.

  13. Kim March 13, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    I attended tonight’s charette. They had tape on the floor to illustrate the different between various width sidewalks, verges, and lanes. They had large posters showing the trees that would be planted (the bigger the verge, the bigger the tree).

    Does it matter that we are taking property away from people in order to put in extra large sidewalks, green space, bike lanes, and medians?

    It is easy for people to have a vision for other people’s property, but what if you owned land along Hwy 9 or had land backing up to Hwy 9? Put yourself in their shoes. We need to consider what is needful vs. what is wishful, IMO.

  14. Julie Hogg March 14, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    Kim, regarding your question above, does it matter we are taking property away from people? IDK, is that property shared with utilities, etc. under easement? How much of this leeway is controlled by GDOT anyway? There is some give on things like that. Don’t expect oak filled allees from GDOT though – they’ve got their list of breakaway trees and nothing will make them budge on that and for good reason given speed limits on Ga. 9. A head on collision with a non-breakaway tree at 45 mph is almost certain death.

  15. Kim March 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    There is a place for eminent domain and roads are certainly one of those places, especially in the study area. I just think it is abusive when we go beyond needs to wants, that’s all. 12-foot multi-use trails, wide verges, and wide tree-filled medians goes beyond needs IMO. Just trying to put myself in the property owners shoes as I was instructed to do by Council on the Sharp property.

    Here are some great articles on eminent domain history.

    http://www.castlecoalition.org/component/content/article/512

    http://castlecoalition.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=189&Itemid=113

  16. Kim March 14, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Simple things like burying utilities and installing architectural lighting would beautify without removing functionality. Someone last night said that vertical elements, such as lighting, have a traffic calming effect all on their own.

    My biggest fear are medians like what is up in town. They are bad for business and we don’t need anything to hurt business right now or ever!

  17. Julie Hogg March 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    @Will – not a tough crowd I don’t think. But definitely a crowd with intelligence, articulation and strong sense of the times.

  18. Will Brett March 16, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Based on the decisions made around Old Milton/Main Street, I have very little confidence that the right choices will be made. I expect them to make a foolish choice like making hwy 9 two lanes, while blocking in Mannings Ridge to boot.

    Add some trees. Fix and/or finish the sidewalks. Put in some concrete stamped medians like Roswell. Fix traffic flow problems, don’t create more north of Mayfield.

    For the true downtown, keep it simple. Green space, parking on both sides, ability to dine outside, etc. good grief just pick a plan already.

  19. JP March 17, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    @ Will: Highway 9 is two lanes is and has been two lanes now. Please elaborate.

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