Does downtown Marietta need to go to the expense and disruption of building another parking garage? Not necessarily, asserts the chairman of the newly created Marietta Vision 20/20 Committee, which held its first meeting last week. What downtown does need, he contends, is better signage to steer drivers to the two existing and oft-underutilized decks.
“A large part of our problem is a communication problem,” said Kee Carlisle, owner of Session Street Folk Art. “We do have parking in our garages, it’s just that people don’t know about it.”
He notes that although both decks are big and spacious, they are the best-kept secrets in town. Those who don’t regularly go downtown are unaware they’re there, and there is little in the way of directional signage to educate them.
Ironically, the city is being penalized for designing a pair of decks that are comparatively attractive and thus don’t stand out like sore thumbs, unlike so many decks. The sole advantage of ugly decks is that they’re hard for drivers to miss.
Carlisle hopes his committee will consider innovative ways of making other downtown attractions like the history and art museums easy to find. One idea he mentioned is painting colored “footprints” on sidewalks that pedestrians can follow to the various venues, akin to what downtown Chattanooga has done.
The committee’s initial focus will be on downtown, but it also will consider other areas and how those problems impact downtown. One of those is the need for better signage to direct motorists toward WellStar Kennestone Hospital, he said.
“When we start talking about traffic, that will involve more than the Square, because the traffic problem starts before you ever get to the Square,” he said.
The committee plans to look at an array of other issues besetting downtown as well, including but not limited to dumpster placement, additional tree plantings to increase the shade canopy, and railroad quiet zones.
Some of what the committee is studying can be done in a short time frame, but it hopefully will be taking a longer-term view of things as well.
“I think 20/20 symbolizes that everything they’re going to look at will take more than one day,” said Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin, who pushed for the committee’s creation. “How do we get to 2020?”
There are right ways of getting to 2020, and there are wrong ways. Hopefully, the new committee will help the city focus on the former.