Residents had another chance to hear the results of months of community brainstorming on how to revitalize and redevelop a portion of Conyers as part of a Livable Centers Initiative study at an open house Thursday night.
The audience, which consisted mostly of members who had attended previous sessions, heard suggestions broken down into land use changes and transportation projects as well as community changes.
A cornerstone project would be the creation of a central park and town green area on 50 acres located between Bryant Street and Oakland Avenue. This park would incorporate trails and reconstitute streams and lakes that once ran through the area.
Other focus areas included redeveloping the West Avenue retail area, creating an educational complex where the Rockdale County Public Schools currently houses its Open Campus, creating mixed-use development on Old Covington Highway leading into Olde Town, mixed-use development along Dogwood Drive and planning for the possibility of a commuter rail station at Vaughn Circle.
"It’s about creating a sense of place," said Community Project Planner Megan Will. "Having a sense of ‘there’ there." Although many of these suggested redevelopments were on private property, land use planning was about, "Priming the pump so that when there is interest in doing it, they don’t have to jump through hoops," she said.
Among the transportation projects already underway was the GDOT widening of Old Covington Highway from two lanes to four and the PATH multi-use trail. Projects that could be accomplished within the next five years were sprucing up the West Avenue gateway, streetscape and intersections and creating a complete sidewalk network. Longer term projects include creating "complete streets" – streets that can be used by pedestrians, bikes or cars – on Hardin/O’Kelly Streets and Greet Streets and a possible traffic circle at the intersection of Old Covington Highway and Green Street.
Community involvement would be key to successful revitalization, and among the suggested changes were creating a revitalization task force for the area, making a subgroup in the Chamber of Commerce for businesses within the study area, and creating "uniting elements" such as a farmer’s market, volunteer events, or highlighting existing institutions such as the library or the Carr Center.
Attendee Patricia Shirey said she was satisfied with the list of suggestions. "I think it’d be great," she said. Right now, "If you want to go somewhere in Conyers, you shop or you eat," she said, but these redevelopments would give residents other recreation options.
Resident Al Sadler Sr. said he had attended all but one of the discussion meetings and said he was satisfied with the suggestions and plans.
"I think it’s been a good thing. The only thing is some of the people that are affected aren’t here," he said. He added that perhaps the meetings should have been held somewhere in the area being discussed, but said "It’s been open to the public. The city has done its part."
The final study will be presented June 30.