2020 was a year like no other in our lifetime. COVID-19 drastically changed how we live, how we work, and how we interact with one another. As we begin 2021, there is hope and light at the end of a very long tunnel with two vaccines being distributed worldwide. We are all hearing this winter will be one of the hardest we’ve experienced because of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the numbers across the United States, including Georgia, are rising. Since the outbreak this past spring, the City of Roswell is doing everything it can within the law to do our part in slowing the spread in our community. As your mayor, the health, safety and welfare of our residents is always my first priority.
We have taken the CDC guidelines and recommendations from the Georgia Department of Health very seriously these past months. While we have had to modify how we do business in our city facilities, city employees have continued to deliver the high-quality services you have come to expect and deserve. Excellent customer service is something the city prides itself on, even during these trying times. In mid-March I formed an internal COVID task force and meet with this group regularly to review the latest COVID-19 data from Georgia Department of Health and the Atlanta/Fulton County Health Department, along with Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive orders. This information helps guide decisions about what to include in my executive orders.
We have also continued our commitment to open transparent government by holding our public meetings through Zoom and inviting residents who would like to comment on agenda items to join the mayor and council meetings from the comfort of their own homes. Our goal is to make attending these meetings as convenient as possible for you. We also live stream them on Facebook, YouTube and roswellgov.com, so even if you do not want to speak directly to mayor and council, you can watch the meetings and keep up to date on what is happening with your city government.
While COVID changed how we do business and, in some cases, deliver services, the city did move forward on a number of important initiatives.
Business Recovery Task Force — To help address the fallout of COVID 19 for our local businesses, I formed a Business Recovery Task Force made up of local business owners, Roswell Inc and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. As you all know, the business community has been hit especially hard by the virus. Many of our restaurants and retail establishments had to close in-person dining and shopping for months. The subsequent restrictions in the governor’s orders have also had an impact on our local businesses. I’m working with this group to create business opportunities and make suggestions on how to do business differently to make it through these trying times.
One of the initiatives to come out of this task force is the “Come Back Safely Pledge Campaign.” The pledge is a promise from businesses, residents and visitors to assure their neighbors and the broader community that they will take necessary precautions, like washing or sanitizing hands, following physical-distancing guidelines, wearing face coverings/masks, and staying home when feeling ill. So far, hundreds of people and businesses have taken the pledge.
Mayor’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee — Following the protests over racial inequity this past spring, I formed the Mayor’s Racial Equality Advisory Committee consisting of a diverse cross section of people from our community. The committee is meeting every couple of weeks when schedules allow. The Advisory Committee will be determining its own goals and is committed to examining areas where improvements can be made to advance racial equity within the community. I am looking forward to continuing the conversation and identifying areas where racial inequities need to be addressed and where there are opportunities to drive change.
Mayor’s Movie Task Force — Also this past year, I formed a Mayor’s Movie Task Force. As you all know the film industry in Georgia was booming before COVID, and shoots are starting to pick up again. The task force brings together the city, our Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce to bring this industry to Roswell. So far, they have been very successful in their efforts. Just since July, we’ve had seven television and movie productions in Roswell. These productions brought thousands of dollars into our community when we most need it.
We’ve also had some major development projects, while slowed by COVID, are now moving forward.
The Southern Post project on SR 9 is also known as the Southern Skillet property to the folks who live in Roswell. The developer, Armada Hoffler, has obtained the land disturbance permit for the full site development of the project and has already removed the existing buildings. There are currently four building permits in the review process, including the parking garage. Armada Hoffler is waiting on the approval of these permits before they begin excavations required for building construction.
As with many construction projects around the country, the pandemic has slowed the start of the project. Armada Hoffler is holding discussions with future tenants for the buildings and has signed several tenants for both retail and office space to date. The developer expects to begin construction sometime in the first quarter of 2021.
Developer Mayfair Acquisitions LLC is moving through the city’s conditional use process to build a pickleball facility where the empty Kohls is located in East Roswell. The developer is asking the city for two conditional uses for outdoor recreation and event facility. This item is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Jan. 18, 2021 and on to a mayor and council meeting in February.
This German international supermarket chain is building a new store in Roswell at Grimes Bridge Road and Holcomb Bridge Road behind Hola Taqueria. It is a $15.5 million investment in our city that will employ 40-50 people. The supermarket will be 28,000 square feet and is slated to open in summer 2021.
I, like all of you, am looking forward to eventually returning to our normal activities. The vaccine distribution has begun across the country. I hope and pray that we will be able overcome this virus and return to our normal activities at some point in 2021. As we look forward to a new year, I wish you and your family health, peace and prosperity. I know that together we will make 2021 a better, even stronger year for our Roswell community.