With the new Roswell Fire Department Station 4 officially opening for service on April 30, the question of the course of action for the old building in East Roswell has been at the forefront of conversation.
At a previous Mayor and city council meeting, a rezoning to commercial mixed use was proposed for the property, but was met with opposition.
Residents of Martin’s Landing spoke against it, resulting in a public input meeting on June 5 at East Roswell Recreation Center.
According to Curt Foster, a resident of the subdivision, the commercial mixed use rezoning is “against the wishes of Martins Landing,” the development who sold the land to the city in 1983.
“Many people in the Martin’s Landing community as well as on east side of Roswell are upset as this creates more commercial density and is not what our 2015 City Council members election represented,” said Foster.
Councilman Michael Palermo emphasized the goal of the June 5 meeting was to have a “community conversation” and obtain feedback from the residents as to their visions for the vacant space.
Palermo, along with Councilman Marcelo Zapata, opened the evening with the potential transformation of the “4,300 square foot semi-industrial warehouse like space,” into a “makerspace.”
Dr. David MacNair of Georgia Tech, who is directly involved in the conceptualizing and start-up of similar spaces throughout the state, was in attendance to expand on the concept.
According to MacNair, such a space would allow anyone with the desire to create, a place to do so.
The “makerspace” would potentially provide access to tools that most craftsmen would not necessarily have.
This space would be similar to what Centennial High School recently opened for the students, but accessible to everyone.
He also emphasized the educational aspect of the space, how the co-working space could create collaboration between different areas, providing wood workers and metal workers as an example.
A prominent question of how a space would be funded was raised, to which MacNair noted potential monetary fees from membership and/or classes, but that research had already been conducted for grant programs to cover operational costs.
MacNair referenced that Roswell would run similar to the “Decatur Makers” and operate as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Zapata sourced inspiration for operation from a New York based makerspace concept called New Lab.
According to its website, New Lab is “bringing together experts in a wide variety of industries, New Lab is a community and platform that supports collaboration across disciplines.”
Questions were raised regarding potential success of the makerspace and alternatives in case of a negative outcome, but given that the concept is so new, specific details have yet to be discussed.
While discussion focused on the “makerspace” concept alternatives, such as transforming this area into a “pocket park” and serving as a connection to other parks or creating a space for local teens; were also proposed.
Former Fire Chief Ricky Spencer was a prominent voice of the evening, raising the issue of why Station 4 was initially vacated, noting significant structural issues and termite damage.
Zapata noted that his first course of action on June 6 would be to investigate when a termite inspection had last been conducted on the building and if a structural engineer had evaluated the building and determined it as safe, sound and able to be repurposed.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Palermo stated the likelihood of proposing a withdrawal of the rezoning request to commercial for this property and discussing alternatives.
Neighbor News Online will continue to update this story as discussion continues and more information becomes available.