MILTON, Ga. — City officials and nearby residents met May 20 for a special called City Council work session to discuss safety and usage issues along Wood Road and Phillips Circle.
Both roadways have been at the center of the Milton trails plan first created and adopted over a decade ago. However, a growing number of people are using the gravel road to walk, cycle or ride horses, and nearby homeowners have alerted officials of a rising trend in speeding cars, parking along the road, people walking in the center of the thoroughfare and unleashed pets.
Nearby homeowners were also concerned with surveyors being near and on their property as the city works to study its trails plan.
About half a dozen nearby homeowners spoke during public comment stating their concerns and offering suggestions on how to mitigate the issues.
Residents said parking should be limited by volume and from dusk until dawn. Any overflow parking should be at the adjacent schools and signage should be installed stating “no parking” beyond certain points. Traffic could also be mitigated by constructing a pedestrian/equestrian bridge at the intersection of Phillips Circle and Summit Road and converting the intersection of Wood Road and Phillips Circle to a three-way stop.
Other resident suggestions included lowering the speed limit, installing additional speed bumps and the city focusing on developing other trails within Milton.
The city also presented a list of possible options, including paving Wood Road, creating a Wood Road homeowners association to allow for a gate, designate the road as one-way or add no-parking signs.
Many residents at the meeting were strongly opposed to paving the road, and none advocated for a gate, stating others should be able to enjoy Wood Road’s beauty.
To address parking, Police Chief Rich Austin said parallel parking is legal on Wood Road and Phillips Circle, provided no sign is posted. City Manager Steve Krokoff said the city cannot add no parking signs unless there is a public safety concern.
Austin did say a car parked in the road and impeding traffic would be a violation, however, Milton Police recently conducted 220 patrols in the area and did not observe any safety concerns or infractions.
Krokoff said each of the city’s trail plans have built upon the original proposal created by residents and city officials in 2006. However, only recently has the city had the funding to construct the 70 miles of paths, so many nearby residents have been alarmed by surveyors near and on their property as the city looks to implement the plan.
“This plan really hasn’t been socialized,” Krokoff said. “It’s one thing to suggest we should connect schools and parks and things like that, it’s another thing to knock on someone’s door on Freemanville Road and say, hey, there is going to be an 8-foot trail running up in front of your house. I think we need to step back, which we have, and council has been very clear about that.”
The city will update its master trails plan beginning this summer, and Krokoff said the city is fortunate that many of the residents who drafted the original plan will be involved in the update. He said it is also important that those opposed to the current plan attend the sessions.
“I want people in those stakeholder meetings that don’t use trails, and maybe they’re not thrilled about a trail being in front of their house,” he said. “They deserve a seat at the table as well. We need to get together a completely diverse group to start forming a plan.”
Krokoff said residents’ ideas from the May 20 meeting could be implemented for the short term while the city waits for the master planning process to begin.
He was also pleased that homeowners were in favor of allowing non-residents on Wood Road.
“What I didn’t hear is ‘We don’t want people on Wood Road,’” Krokoff said. “They want real solutions, the people of Wood Road and Phillips Circle, to maintain the beauty of their road and to be able to accommodate those who come there and respect the property and respect that fact that people live there. It was a great meeting.”