[Note: Poll results are in a spreadsheet. The top row blocks are questions. The responses are in columns below each question. To see the full text of the response or question click on the block and it will show at the top of the spreadsheet.]
A recent poll about what residents would like to see in Jasper garnered a big response, with 250 people weighing in.
The poll was developed by the Pickens Progress after members of the Jasper Downtown Development Authority expressed interest in soliciting input about what residents want to see here. The DDA wants to take that input into consideration as they move ahead with real estate and other discussions.
When asked what people would like to see on Main Street, more restaurants was the top response, with specifics ranging from rooftop dining to upscale dining, to a wider-variety of dining and others.
“I have not found the quality of food or selection that is offered by the restaurants very appealing,” one respondent said. “…I go to Ellijay more often because of the variety and the quality of food is better. Many of my friends and acquaintances share the same opinion.”
There were a few comments made about the community not needing more Mexican or Chinese dining, and that people wished restaurants on Main Street were open more days of the week
After restaurants, more stores/shopping/retail ranked a fairly close second. People want to see a range of stores and specialty shops, from clothing to home décor, kitchen, shoe repair/shoe store, bookstores, and others.
“To give an overall more vibrant experience, we need a combination of unique retail — like a leather goods, comic books/collectable/outdoor gear/knife shop — so that a wide range of shoppers have enough to attract their attention and then will have a variety of restaurants to choose from,” one respondent said.
Another said, “I would love to see a variety of boutiques and stores, so I can take friends and family down to browse and shop instead of going to Blue Ridge or Woodstock.”
Restaurants and shopping were by far the top ranked responses. Other suggestions were wide-ranging, including a theater, bar, art galleries, family-friendly spots, a café or bakery, a museum, public restrooms, amphitheater, green space, among others.
A handful of people commented on the streetscape, including suggestions like hanging baskets, consistent facades, and lighting.
There were also a handful of comments about traffic issues, including handicap parking, speedbumps, and the Main Street/Highway 53 intersection.
One respondent wanted to see a “turning lane for vehicles turning left while east bound on 53 at Main Street. One car turning left will create significant back up that lasts for hours.”
A few respondents said they do not think Main Street needs to change, and that they would like to see less alcohol and fewer offices.
When asked if they would like to see more growth, an overwhelming majority of respondents said they would like to see growth that will bring more options to the community and keep residents from having to travel out of town. A large number of those respondents said they would like growth, but that they want sustainable, controlled, well-planned growth.
One respondent said, “People complain about not having affordable housing. You can’t have housing without jobs. The more businesses thrive the more opportunities people have in wanting to stay and work instead of the long commute to metro Atlanta.”
For those opposed to growth there was concern about losing the small town atmosphere to chains and becoming overcrowded.
“Look south of us and see what it does,” one person said. “New growth always means higher taxes, never lower like promised. More traffic, longer times to go and do everything. People live here for the slower pace and rural atmosphere. Leave it that way.”
When asked what they would like to see on the Hwy. 515 corridor it was common for people to suggest chain establishments, including things like Publix, Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel, LongHorn Steakhouse, other chain restaurants and grocers, and chain retailers like Target, TJ Maxx and several others.
Some people want to see entertainment like a movie theater or bowling alley. Some respondents commented on traffic safety on the highway and some want to see landscaping, signage and a formal gateway entrance to Jasper.
Other questions in the poll include what people want to see in the central business district and in empty downtown buildings, how people would describe Jasper’s atmosphere, what people do when they bring friends and family, and other general comments.
One member of the DDA said a driving goal of theirs is to make Jasper a place to be proud of and a place residents want to bring friends and family to visit.
J Cornelius, DDA secretary and treasurer, said the authority is “working to make downtown a cleaner and more enjoyable place to live, work, and play for the people of Jasper.”
There are no guarantees the DDA can make those needs and desires of the community a reality, Cornelius said, but knowing what they are will help the authority know what direction to focus their efforts.