Proposed Fayetteville city park connector gets approval

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Proposed roundabout in the planned city center for Fayetteville. Graphic/Fayette County Commission.
Proposed roundabout in the planned city center for Fayetteville. Graphic/Fayette County Commission.

The idea of extending Heritage Park Way to connect to the new park space soon to be created as part of the Fayetteville City Hall complex was back before the Fayette County Commission on May 9. Commissioners agreed to move forward with an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the county and city to address the project.

While the city owns Heritage Park Way, situated between the county complex and the Fayette County Library, the city wants to extend the street via a roundabout to a connector street adjacent to the upcoming city park space area which will be situated immediately south of the new City Hall.

Unlike the March 28 meeting where some of the commission expressed disapproval, Fayetteville Downtown Development Director Brian Wismer at the May 9 meeting was met with a more favorable reception. In the end, commissioners agreed to begin work on the IGA based on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Eric Maxwell opposed.

The city is currently developing plans for the new city center that will include a new City Hall along Stonewall Avenue and several acres of park space and amenities to the south.

Wismer said the roundabout, and other features such as one or more raised traffic tables, would serve to calm traffic moving through the area. Also part of the project would be amenities such as sidewalks.

Wismer at the March 28 meeting discussed the concept of the city and county entering into an intergovernmental agreement that would have the city using a 24-foot strip, running north to south, on the library’s west side parking lot to help establish one of those connector streets. The connector street on the east side of the new city property would intersect with Heritage Park Way, which runs between the library and county complex.

Wismer on May 9 said extending the street, by using a roundabout, would enable the city to save the old school system bus barn, would forego the need to construct a retaining wall between the connector street and the library parking lot and would provide the look of a city/county amenity with the library property being connected to the park space to the immediate west.

Commissioner Charles Rousseau said he supported the concept though he does not want the library to lose parking spaces.

Commissioner Edge Gibbons also supported the concept, telling Wismer, along with City Manager Ray Gibson and Mayor Ed Johnson who were at the meeting, that “Your efforts are in the best interest of the city.”

“The city has been trying to develop the (street) grid for years. I see the need for the network,” Commissioner Chuck Oddo said, adding that he like the idea of one or more raised traffic tables on the connector street.

Maxwell, though supportive of some aspects of the IGA, again expressed his doubts about the project, citing traffic concerns and issues with parking in the downtown area.

“I don’t see a walking community happening,” Maxwell said, citing concerns about the change from the “sleepy little town” that was once Fayetteville.

For better or worse, and now decades later, the former sleepy town and sleepy county is home to 112,000 people and is firmly inside the 29-county metro area that is home to multiple millions.

For Fayetteville’s part, the city is adhering to the wishes of hundreds of citizens who recently stated their preference to expand the downtown area and include more retail and higher density residential, all within a walkable setting.

Running diagonally to the northeast, the new multi-acre city park space will be approximately one block from the intersection of Ga. highways 85 and 54, the heart of downtown.

Attending the May 9 meeting of the Fayette County Commission were, from left, commissioners Eric Maxwell and Edge Gibbons, Chairman Randy Ognio and commissioners Chuck Oddo and Charles Rousseau. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Attending the May 9 meeting of the Fayette County Commission were, from left, commissioners Eric Maxwell and Edge Gibbons, Chairman Randy Ognio and commissioners Chuck Oddo and Charles Rousseau. Photo/Ben Nelms.