ROSWELL, Ga. — Dozens of Roswell residents met Nov. 14 at Centennial High School to test drive early concepts of how the city defines itself and its values.
The gathering, hosted by the city and consulting firm planning NEXT, was a part of the Together Roswell initiative. The effort began over the summer when the planners gathered residents’ ideas for Roswell’s first city-wide strategic plan, which would inform future policies and decisions. Its efforts culminated in the Nov. 14 Together Roswell Community Summit.
“This is the first time in the history of Roswell that we’ve ever done a strategic plan,” said Mayor Lori Henry. “It’s rather overdue.”
She said that as an elected official, she needs “marching orders” from citizens to know what Roswell residents value and want implemented, which a strategic plan could help outline.
Since the launch of Together Roswell in June, planning NEXT has collected data from more than 2,100 unique participants and logged more than 6,500 comments, according to planning NEXT Senior Planner Kyle May.
The information rates Roswell’s strongest locations, like Canton Street, the riverfront and the park system; and its major areas of concern, like congestion on major traffic corridors, parking along Canton Street, and the Holcomb Bridge Road and Ga. 400 interchange. Citizens also identified possible areas of opportunity, including expanding Canton Street activities, more access to the riverfront and reinvesting in struggling retail areas.
May and his team used the information to create several statements about what Roswell citizens value. Residents were called upon to evaluate the statements at the summit.
The idea behind the exercise, May said, is to eventually come up with a vision statement for Roswell based off of the values.
“I know it’s high level,” May said. “I know it can be broad. But it’s really important to define the future state of your community, so you all have something very clear — not just as government officials, not just as businesses — but as individuals, as residents, that broader community of Roswell, that you have something you align and work toward achieving.”
May presented the initial vision statement drafted for Roswell, which attendees likewise evaluated. It reads:
“Roswell is a community of choice. We choose to nurture a resilient, diverse and active city. We choose to celebrate our rich assets, recognize our history, and preserve our high quality of life and quality of place. We choose to make Roswell welcoming, safe and beautiful. We choose Roswell as home.”
The statement may change based on feedback gathered at the summit and as Together Roswell progresses in drafting the strategic plan.
Resident John Reddick, who has been on the task force for Together Roswell from its inception, said he thought not enough people showed up to the summit, but it had some great discourse.
He said it’s important for people to attend the meetings and provide their views to help shape the city’s direction to where they want to see it go, not just complain without doing anything.
Resident Denise Kennedy attended the Nov. 14 summit, her first Together Roswell meeting. She said it was not what she had expected, but she enjoyed having the ability to speak with other residents about the city’s future.
“It’s our city,” Kennedy said. “If we don’t have a voice in this, then what is the point in having citizens around to vote and participate? It shouldn’t be limited to the elected officials that are running the city. They serve at our pleasure, so we need to tell them how we feel.”
For more information about Together Roswell and to get involved, visit togtherroswell.org.