Marietta and church finally agree on Roswell Street widening
by Rachel Miller
September 26, 2013 02:00 AM | 4194 views | 5 5 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Roswell Street Baptist Church Senior Pastor The Rev. Ernest Easley, left, and Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin embrace Wednesday night after the two sides came to an agreement that will allow the city to complete a four-lane project on Roswell Street and avoid a bottleneck in the area near the church.
Roswell Street Baptist Church Senior Pastor The Rev. Ernest Easley, left, and Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin embrace Wednesday night after the two sides came to an agreement that will allow the city to complete a four-lane project on Roswell Street and avoid a bottleneck in the area near the church.
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Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is relieved the deal is done and “happy the church got what it wanted.” “Nine years is a long time to birth a baby,” Tumlin said.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is relieved the deal is done and “happy the church got what it wanted.” “Nine years is a long time to birth a baby,” Tumlin said.
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MARIETTA — A decade-long dispute came to an end on Wednesday night with a signed agreement and a friendly embrace between Mayor Steve Tumlin and the senior pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church.

The City Council voted 6-0 with Councilman Jim King absent to accept an agreement with the church that allows the city to acquire church property to widen Roswell Street from two to four lanes.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is relieved the deal is done and “happy the church got what it wanted.”

“Nine years is a long time to birth a baby,” Tumlin said.

The contention between the parties started when the city announced plans to use part of the 70-year-old church’s property to widen the street.

Fears of condemnation caused an uprising by the church’s congregation at a City Council meeting in November 2012, which resulted in the council unanimously voting in favor of mediation.

“This (project) was unique because we were dealing with a church,” Councilman Philip Goldstein said.

The Rev. Ernest Easley, the church’s senior pastor, said he trusted in God during the process, and vowed to never walk away from the negotiations.

“I know God will always take care of his church,” Easley said.

After nine months of discussions, Easley took the settlement to the church’s congregation of 2,300 active members. At a business meeting on Sept. 8, some 200 members agreed to the deal.

The terms of the agreement

The city will pay the church $115,000 to gain .4 acres of property that it will use for landscaping the north side of Roswell Street across from the church, as well as stretches to the east of the church. The church will deed .8 acres of property to the city, but gain .4 acres back in different strips of land.

The city will relinquish ownership of the right-of-way on the north side of the church’s parking lot and of an alley between two commercial properties that are owned by the church directly across the street.

The agreement specifies that the city will pay the mediation expenses incurred by the church through March 18.

Goldstein, who said he has always been supportive of the road project that has taken more than 20 years to complete, made the recommendation to approve the agreement.

“It is a pretty stretch of road,” said Goldstein, who added that he has seen improvements to some commercial businesses along the road over the years.

Paving the way for road construction

The city’s $24 million project to widen Roswell Street to four lanes from the Marietta Square to the Big Chicken includes current construction from Dodd Street to Cobb Parkway.

Plans on the segment in front of Roswell Street Baptist Church, from Victory Drive to Dodd Street, include a landscaped median, 8-foot-wide sidewalks, trees and pedestrian-level street lights.

Further engineering and surveying will be done by city staff, with final drawings approved by the City Council in two or three months.

The construction of this phase will take a year and will not begin until next spring, at the earliest, city engineer Jim Wilgus said.

This still leaves a stretch from Barnes Street, just east of Fairground Street, to Victory Street, which runs next to Roswell Street Baptist Church. But the project will be out of funding by the time the city reaches this portion, Wilgus said.

Goldstein said a major road project takes time and Roswell Street has already gone through two cycles of SPLOST funding.

It is just a matter of time until Cobb County voters approve another SPLOST that the city will allocate for this development, Goldstein said.

Comments
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why 4 lanes?
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September 27, 2013
Why did Roswell St need to be 4 lanes through there? So drivers headed inbound to the Square can back their cars up at the Square where the westbound direction of 120 reduces to one lane?

For an event better question, why have no bicycle lanes been added to ANYTHING Marietta has been doing to "beautify" the city?

You know what's truly beautiful? Seeing people out and about enjoying their lives is what's beautiful. You don't see that when they are cooped up in their cars zooming away faster than humanly possible.

If we want people to come here and buy our new townhomes and houses in Meeting Park and Hedges and Gramlin and Johnny Walker and whatever other PVC farms we taxpayers are still carrying, they have to see something that makes them want to live here.

A vibrant community is what they need to see. People coming and going in their cars is nothing any different from strip mall and chain restaurant hell in East Cobb and West Cobb where the houses are twice the size for half the price but come with a 2 hour per day prison sentence nobody ever considers (the commute), so why buy in the city where there's nothing particularly compelling here beyond the potential to hope for something better someday since the bones are good?

The pretty sidewalks are a good start, but you have to live within a few blocks of the Square to walk, and you have to have NO FEAR of the cars that are given priority over pedestrians at every turn (right turn lanes with yield signs and the crosswalk button is on an island.. YOU try that one a couple times).

The range for a bicycle is much, much greater than that of a pedestrian and bicycles are far safer to operate than walking is around here even with our current, unfortunate lack of bicycle facilities.

If we added on-street bicycle tracks for just one mile in each cardinal direction from the Square, this town would be transformed into something special, especially for the South, in no time at all.

We work to attract business from the rest of the country, so why not work to attract people too? Businesses do require people, after all! You want a tech company explosion on the Square? You want smart young couples EACH with 100 k salaries? Just add bicycle access.

Too bad we gave up on Marietta Fibernet and got into the slumlord business instead. Is it too late to get 100-Gigabit internets on the Square?

Ah but no, our elderly city council and elderly mayor haven't ridden a bicycle for any reason since childhood and can't imagine anyone would ever do that voluntarily when cars exist (those bicyclers must have had their driving license revoked for DUI right?), so they will double down on the failed car dependency program and keep adding more car lanes in every direction, again.
AmyLL
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September 27, 2013
As someone who is considering moving to Marietta, I couldn't agree more that there needs to be an emphasis on bike lanes and pedestrian safety. While the Square area has great appeal (and quite frankly, the best appeal in Cobb Co in my opinion), I want to be able to walk places safely with my family. There's nothing "liberal" about that, so Tony Maddox, save your narrow-minded dismissal for some other topic. If Marietta really wants to clean up the city and get families to move into the new construction being built around the Square (all of which I've looked at), you have to follow all the way through -- you can't advertise something as "walking distance to the Square" and expect people not to notice that there's no concern for pedestrian or cyclist safety.
your right.
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October 17, 2013
I was born and raised in Marietta and live 1 mile south of the square. Although we do regularly walk or ride our bikes to the square, it is a major challenge. Right now, there aren't even sidewalks all the way to the square.
Tony Maddox
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September 26, 2013
Typical liberal response.
West Cobb
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September 26, 2013
How touching.
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