JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — With about 570 votes, the residents of Johns Creek have weighed in on what they want the proposed State Bridge Road gateway marker to look like.
The plurality of voters, 41 percent, voted for the option entitled “Bridge,” which depicts Rodgers Bridge with the Chattahoochee River flowing beneath.
The next largest segment of voters, 25 percent, said they liked none of the designs. Of those, about a third said in the comments that they were against any gateway markers or that they were a waste of taxpayer money.
The remaining votes were divided among three other design options.
“I’m glad that there was some clarity in the responses,” Mayor Mike Bodker said. “I think that’s a lot better than it showing up 33-33-33 where you’re wondering what the end result is.”
Voting for the online survey began mid-October following a series as of a community engagement meetings this summer.
The monument is proposed to be placed near the intersection of Kimball Bridge Road and State Bridge Road.
Creating artistic monuments at the east and west entrances to the city on State Bridge Road was the top request from the Johns Creek Convention and Visitors Bureau when it came time hash out tourism product development spending last year. These projects are funded by the hotel tax and allocated by state law for use on capital projects that appeal to visitors.
A 2018 study by an outside travel consultant found gateways and signage was one of the city’s key shortcomings. After five months of negotiations between the CVB and City Council, the council allocated $64,000 to create a single marker at State Bridge and Kimball. If the project is deemed successful, it could lead to a series of gateways around the other entrances to the city.
The visitors bureau partnered with artist William Massey and Urban Catalyst Lab, a nonprofit that helps cities integrate art with urban planning. The CVB had previously partnered with Uthe firm to design the Johns Creek Tunnel under Medlock Bridge Road. Massey was one of the artists on that project.
Some members of the City Council and public have criticized the CVB for going straight to UCL rather than holding an open bidding process or selecting a Johns Creek artist.
In his artist statement, Massey said the monument uses the open voids between the trusses of Rogers Bridge as windows into history. Images spanning the bridge represent aspects and eras of local history, including Native Americans, farming, gold mining, education and technology.
In September, the CVB Board and City Council received three design options from the artist. All were to go to a public vote set to begin Sept. 30. However, based on private feedback from members of the City Council and CVB board, the vote was delayed.
Before going to the public, the artist modified the existing designs and created two new designs, including the eventual winner, “Bridge.”
The next steps are for the design to go before the Public Art Board on Dec. 5, and then before the City Council for a final vote.
The CVB has requested funding for a second gateway marker as part of the 2020 tourism product development budget. At a recent work session, the City Council raised questions about the replicability of Massey’s designs.
As part of the design survey, 50 percent of respondents said all future monuments should use the same designs. With that it mind, it is unlikely the City Council would approve any design that could not be replicated in a cost-efficient way.
The council has already approved the tourism board’s suggestions to allocate $70,000 for Phase II of the installation of the Wall That Heals and $56,000 for improvements at Autrey Mill. The council also indicated it would like to allocate some of the tourism product development funds to a Chattahoochee River greenway study.
The council is expected to continue discussions on tourism product development funds Dec. 9.