Councilman Ron Fennel wants to rename the heavily traveled 18-year-old road because he says Cobb County residents deserve a road named for what he calls one of the area’s greatest assets, the Silver Comet Trail. The trail begins in Smyrna and will connect Atlanta and Birmingham once finished.
The road begins near Interstate 285 through Smyrna, turning into Barrett Parkway at Powder Springs Road.
Fennel said it was never intended to be called the East-West Connector.
“It was a description on an engineering drawing,” he said. “Nobody bothered to take the next step and put a proper moniker on this road.”
He maintains the “destination appeal” of the county would be enhanced by the name change.
“It affects how people perceive it,” Fennel said. “We’re not an afterthought. We’re a neighborhood and community.”
East-West Connector could be the name of a road in any town.
“The Silver Comet Parkway can only be in Cobb County,” he said.
Fennel is asking for public comments and will meet with interested residents tonight at a 7 p.m. town hall at the Presbyterian Village at 2000 East-West Connector in Austell.
Fennel says he’s heard more positive reaction than negative, having received emails from constituents who are excited about the chance to pay homage to the trail.
Still, some local business owners aren’t convinced.
Vincent Lee owns Johnny Brusco’s New York Style Pizza at 1435 Highlands Ridge Road off the Connector and wasn’t aware of the proposal.
Lee thinks it will cause confusion for existing and potential customers.
“Everybody knows about this spot as being on the East-West Connector,” Lee said.
Dr. Sean Harper, co-owner of Smyrna Eye Group at 4280 East-West Connector, agrees.
“Changing the name of the street, while that may be in some people’s interest to draw more business into the area, from our standpoint I think it’s going to hurt our business,” Harper said.
This wouldn’t be the first time his business has undergone a change of address. When it first opened, the property had an address on South Cobb Drive. Harper petitioned to change it to the East-West Connector.
“We wanted to make sure that our address reflected where we are,” he said.
It took time for patients to adjust, but the bigger hassle was letting vendors and insurance companies know about the change. Deliveries would be returned or held and billing was affected, he said.
“Even to this day, the current address doesn’t even show on many people’s (global positioning system),” he said.
Harper doesn’t want to go through that again.
The almost nine-mile road extends through Smyrna and unincorporated Cobb County. Therefore the City Council and Cobb Board of Commissioners would have to grant approval for the name change.
“If approved, we would notify the post office, utilities and those along the road of the new name,” county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon supported a resolution the City Council passed unanimously in February asking the county commission to join the city in adopting the new name.
Bacon praised Fennel for seeking public opinion.
“I think he’s going about it the right way if it is going to be changed,” Bacon said. “You ought to have a series of public hearings.”
But Bacon knows that some people won’t be happy. A retired United States Postal Service postmaster, Bacon says road name changes caused more worry in the past because mail was the main way people communicated.
“I think that’s still a concern today,” he said.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area, did not return phone messages Wednesday.