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Large crowd offers opinions on Jasper

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Dan Pool / Photo
    Jasper business owners and residents ponder plans presented to improve the town’s transportation and its effects on downtown commerce at a public forum last Thursday in the county admin building.


    One planning consultant commended Jasper with a “good job” for the tremendous turnout to offer input into the town’s roads, signs and appearance at a meeting Thursday at the county administration building.
    The room was indeed packed with more than 70 business owners, local officials, chamber leaders and residents providing their two-cents-worths on a number of topics concerning Jasper through the Downtown Transportation

Enhancement planning process.
    Billed as a transportation study, much of the discussion stretched to how transportation might enhance the commercial fortunes of downtown.
    Ideas ranged from small and practical (signs pointing  to the courthouse and parking) to the large (redevelop the strip mall with the closed Piggly Wiggly).
    Project Manager Marsha Swider from Kimley Horn transportation planners went over some of their initial observations that Jasper has a lot of potential with city-owned areas near downtown, such as the vacant lot across from 61 Main and the modern courthouse as a gathering spot.
    Other areas elicited mixed feelings such as the small water fountain park on the north end of Main Street and the old depot, which was nice but not used to its potential.
    And some areas are recognized problems, among them the walkability of the east side of Main Street on Highway 53 and the area around Walgreens on Burnt Mountain Road, which Swider termed a “hostile pedestrian environment.”
    She said many of the areas had a “complicated” rather than flowing connectivity.
    From their preliminary meetings, Swider said “a lack of vision” was identified as the chief obstacle for Jasper. But she soft-pedaled that  by saying, “not necessarily a lack of vision, but a lack of commitment to and involvement to make the vision come to life.” She said it was a matter of getting “everyone on the same page.”
    The planners unveiled some preliminary thoughts to get feedback on how they would be accepted by the public. But, it was noted repeatedly that a lot would depend on what the Ga. Department of Transportation did with Highway 53 from the fourlane into town, which has been in different planning stages since at least the mid-1990s. Also in flux is the possibility that Jasper Middle School may be relocated for a new campus.
    Participants were asked to give feedback on notes for different designs on roads and signage.
    Mayor John Weaver, however, vocally made his feelings known on some of the differing proposals, referring to them as “cartoons.”            

     Weaver said it was ridiculous that some ideas were presented that called for new roads that cut over existing homes and businesses.
    An inflamed mayor noted those would be impossible to implement as the city is not about to try to acquire properties and build new roads.         He asked them to clarify and update with some specific ideas he has proposed to be shown as at least an option.

Comments   

Jayson
+3 #1 Jayson 2016-06-27 04:22
I'm 42 years of age. I live here in Jasper. I moved here from Katy Texas last year. The expansion that took place in Katy has brought plenty of business to the area but, sadly many more problems come with rampant consumerism. I hope, sincerely, that Jasper doesn't fall prey to corporate interests like Katy and so many other towns that have in the previous decades. The pattern is usually the same no matter the geographic location. This story has my attention. The people I've met here in Jasper are truly a delight compared to Katy. The pace here is just fine. More hustle and bustle would not be too good for Jasper in the long term, in my opinion. They will throw money around to temp people here. That's the M.O. and has been since before I was born. If a vote were held my answer would be a stern and solid no. It's time we all became acutely aware of the tactics used to push towns and people around with. Hopefully I'm not alone with my opinion.
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Mr. Greenjeans
-2 #2 Mr. Greenjeans 2016-06-29 14:52
Pickens/Jasper has seemed to turn into a "armpit" of North Georgia where businesses of quality seem to avoid coming here. Add to the poor educational system, apathetic political leadership, Urgent action is required to transform into a place that enhances beauty, encourages investment and partnership engagement. Hearing more people looking to leave than stay and these are folks that have money to spend.
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