So the city of Marietta, Southern Polytechnic State University and Life University have banded together to try and change that and to make that segment of Highway 41 more user-friendly. The three partners met last week to discuss the “MU2” project, which is focusing on the 862-acre Marietta University Enhancement District. Among those on hand were Mayor Steve Tumlin, architect Michael M. Sizemore and SPSU President Dr. Lisa Rossbacher.
“The conversation we’re going to begin continuing today started just about two years ago when people at Life University got together with people here at Southern Polytechnic and said, ‘You know, there are a lot of ideas out there for what could happen along Highway 41,’” Rossbacher said.
Mayor Tumlin, who serves on the SPSU Foundation board, said the project is all about stewardship.
“The concept is not only of making Highway 41 better and more productive but to help these college campuses add more to the community,” he said. “The city of Marietta is committed. (Highway) 41 is a dynamic road. We’ve got to be good stewards.”
One possibility for streetscape improvements, such as brick sidewalks, would be to obtain a grant from the Livable Centers Initiative. The city obtained a $100,000 grant from that organization to implement streetscape improvements on Roswell Street, for which the Atlanta Regional Commission paid $80,000, said Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton at the meeting.
The group also discussed access issues.
“Safety is an issue in terms of walking, bicycling and even driving,” said landscape architect Andrea Greco, who headed discussion groups on the topic of connecting to the greater Marietta community.
A consistent theme was that students don’t feel it is safe to walk along the road. Considering the lack of sidewalks and the fact that pedestrians have to walk in the road itself or through the grass alongside it for much of Cobb Parkway’s length in Cobb, such sentiments should come as no surprise.
“My biggest problem is sidewalks,” SPSU Director of Graduate Studies Nikki Palamiotis said. “Our students have to walk on the side of the road.”
The group hopes to have a draft plan by March 21.
There’s no doubt that there’s much that Marietta and unincorporated Cobb could do to increase the visual appeal of their respective stretches of Cobb Parkway, and to make them safer as well. And it is in the best interest of both the schools and the community to increase their visual profile and access along the road as well.
The MU2 project’s goals are well worth pursuing and deserve the full cooperation of City Hall and, should it come to it, the state and/or federal DOTs as well.