WITH TRAFFIC SWAMPING Marietta Square, the general citizenry isn’t the only one feeling the squeeze. First Baptist Church of Marietta is taking steps to protect its parking spaces. The church recently convened a parking task force to determine how best to manage its parking.

First Baptist has a 71-space parking lot on Cherokee Street across the street from the county’s parking deck and a 35-space lot off Church Street that has been leased to the Downtown Marietta Development Authority since the 1970s, according to Justin O’Dell, member of the church’s task force. The DMDA uses that lot for public parking, but come July, the long-term lease expires and the church does not intend to renew. The DMDA made a deal with the church that in exchange for demolishing some dilapidated buildings on the spot and turning the space into a parking lot, the church would allow public parking there during weekdays.

Justin O'Dell.jpg

Justin O’Dell

The church’s task force concluded hiring a parking management company was needed, a decision the church membership overwhelmingly agreed to pursue, voting to contract with Cornerstone Parking last week.

“We have signage up that says the parking lot is for church use only and that’s technically all the time, but it’s ignored,” O’Dell said.

One concern is that as the church’s preschool class lets out, there are drivers backing in and out of the church lot as they lunch on the Square or attend to court business. That Marietta Square is growing and active is good news, O’Dell said.

“We’ve got a vibrant Square, we’ve got a lot of people who want to come to the Square,” he said.

But with that comes challenges.

“I think there are additional pressures being created. The county making changes on the parking deck has created pressure. The opening of (Marietta Square Market), which is a great thing for Marietta, has created pressure, and the other reality is that we have a very vibrant church. Our church is growing, and we’re very active and we have a lot going on.”

O’Dell said the plan is for the church’s parking lots to be available and free for anyone attending church functions. When the church is not hosting events, Cornerstone, the parking management company, will charge drivers to park there. Cornerstone is presently evaluating the best way to do this and will be making a recommendation on what to charge.

O’Dell called it a work in progress.

“There’s like a four- to six-week lead time before the smart box gets installed. They may choose to use persons for Taste of Marietta. And then you’ll see a gradual implementation of it where it’s probably fully in place sometime this summer,” he said.

O’Dell said he wanted the public to be aware now so folks may plan accordingly.

“Because a lot of people who use the government buildings or the Square use our lot. They’ve gotten accustomed to the fact that even though it’s posted ‘no parking’ that they can do that and get away with it. So they kind of need to be careful with that now. I would say it’s going to be a process. While we all hope it goes smoothly, we’re going to try to work patiently, we want to be a good partner with the city. We have great partnerships with businesses on the Square, and we don’t want to disrupt any of those, but the pressure has gotten to the point where we’ve got to get management of our resources.”

The county recently outsourced operations of its two downtown parking garages to LAZ Parking, while the Marietta City Council has been talking for years about what to do about downtown parking.

DMDA Chairman Tom Browning believes the opening of Marietta Square Market will be the spark needed to accomplish a proposal he’s long advocated: building a new parking deck on the 80 or so space Mill Street parking lot the DMDA leases from the state located next to Starbucks.

Tom Browning.jpg

Tom Browning

“I think this is going to create — you know the ‘crisis on the border?’ We’ve got to do something about parking now. It’s caught up with us,” Browning said.

However, Browning said the city has to take the lead on the plan.

“The push has got to come from the city. The DMDA doesn’t have the wherewithal to do it on our own. It’s got to be a combination of the DMDA and the city to make that work,” he said.

As for using the county decks, Browning said parking studies the DMDA has commissioned in the past indicate visitors aren’t inclined to use them.

“It’s kind of out of the way. People psychologically don’t go over there to park. If people are going to come off the Loop they’re not going to drive over that way. They got blinders on. They’re going to drive around the Square.”♦♦♦

LAW & ORDER: “Fatal Attraction,” a true-crime series on the TV One cable network, plans to profile a Cobb County case at 9 p.m. Monday, the Cobb District Attorney’s Office reports. Danielle Marshall was a young Powder Springs mother when she was killed in January 2013. Although the case was cold for awhile, Joshua Gibson, the father of Danielle’s daughter, was ultimately convicted of her murder.

Chief ADA Jesse Evans prosecuted Gibson and was interviewed for the show.

On Comcast/xfinity, TV One is Channel 71. Go to tvone.tv to check channel listings for other cable providers.

SPEAKER CIRCUIT: State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, floor leader for Gov. Brian Kemp, is the speaker at the Cobb Republican Women’s Club’s next meeting at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

The event takes place at the Hilton Marietta Conference Center.

Reeves will give a session recap, talk about issues on the horizon and the importance of 2020 elections.

For more information, please visit the organization’s website at www.ccrwc.org.

DAUGHTERS: The Fielding Lewis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently welcomed five students selected by their schools to compete for the DAR Good Citizen Award Essay Scholarship. The award is presented to students who exemplify the qualities of a good citizen: service, leadership, dependability and patriotism. This year’s students were Kendall Flores from Sprayberry High School, Conan Lynch from McEachern High School, Mary Elizabeth Johnson from The Walker School, Urayah Richards from Kell High School, and Rebecca Lieber from Lassiter High School. Johnson won the award.


SUNRISE SERVICE: The Kiwanis Club of Marietta and Rotary Club of Marietta invite you to attend the annual Community Easter Sunrise Service at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park on Sunday.

Attendees should bring their own chair or blanket for seating on the lawn in front of the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Visitor’s Center. Parking assistance and flashlight escorts will be available beginning at 6 a.m. to help attendees make their way to the service.

Casual attire is appropriate. Handicapped parking and drop-off for guests who require assistance will be available. The service will be held from 6:45 a.m. until 8 a.m. For questions, contact Becky Shipley at beckys@ymcaatlanta.org.

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created spring,” said the late Sir Bernard Williams. Around Town wishes you and yours a very happy Easter holiday.


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