Cobb County government officials heard Vinings residents’ dreams for their community at the second meeting of the Vinings Vision Plan.
Dana Johnson, Cobb County’s planning division manager, referred to Tuesday night’s gathering at Vinings United Methodist Church as the “dream meeting” where Cobb officials would listen to the goals and ideas of citizens.
“One of the things I could tell you is don’t worry right now as to what the boundary of the Vinings Village is or any of that,’’ said Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott. “That’s not the purpose of this whole study. This study and master plan that we’re going to come up with is for the whole Vinings area. Some of it’s the village, some of it’s the transition areas, some of it’s on Atlanta Road.”
Johnson summarized what was discussed at the first Vinings Vision Meeting held last spring by listing the community’s positive attributes including its location and accessibility, library, low-density residential areas, natural environment, sense of community, historic significance and walkability. He also discussed its negative attributes like traffic congestion, flow and speed, lack of parks and community center and lack of consistent sidewalks and crosswalks.
These attributes were categorized into common themes: transportation, history and community, land use, and community identity. The group of about 100 citizens clustered in smaller groups to discuss the individual themes in four separate meeting areas in the church. Some of the common concerns raised in these small groups included a proposal for a green space or park on Settlement Road and traffic congestion at the Paces Ferry Road/Paces Mill Road intersection.
Bill Voegeli, president of the Vinings Homeowners Association, told Patch that there are talks to install a left-turn signal at that intersection. He also highlighted some other traffic issues such as the traffic build-up at South Atlanta Road at I-285 during the morning and evening rush hours.
There are planned modifications for the interchange as the project is in the FY2008-2013 Transportation Improvement Plan and is a component of the Cobb County 2005 1-percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) program.
The modifications include replacing the existing sub-standard bridges, relocation and reconfiguring existing I-285 ramps, and adding additional lanes at the interchange.
“Right now we’re going through environmental studies,’’ Ott told Patch back in May. “I think we’re looking at construction in 2013 or 2014. We’re going with a state-design. The state said they’d pay for it, so it’s kind of a no-brainer, although we do have some monetary obligations. But we’re going through the process because we’re using state dollars.
“They call it an expanded diamond design that’s real similar to what’s there now. Instead of the on-off ramps being cloverleaf, they’re just kind of diagonal off from the interstate. The bridgework contemplates future expansion of 285, which is why you have to do the expanded diamond. It’s a tight spot and the road’s not designed to handle people coming on and off 285. Hopefully the design will help alleviate some of that.’’
Voegeli also addressed traffic congestion caused by passing trains through the Vinings Village. He thinks some of that congestion will lessen when the Plant McDonough south of Vinings off Plant Atkinson Road switches to natural gas. Georgia Power is in the process of retiring two, smaller, coal-fueled generating units at the plant, and replacing them with three 840-megawatt combined cycle natural gas units.
Voegeli estimated that about 65 trains travel through Vinings a day. When Plant McDonough makes the transition to natural gas in 2012, about 25 of the trains that would normally carry coal to the plant will no longer be needed.
While the second meeting was the “dream meeting,” Cobb officials plan to discuss how to put the proposed ideas into affect at a third meeting that is being scheduled for November.
One group that hopes to affect these changes in the community is the newly formed Vinings Community Conservation Alliance.
“The VCCA is right now looking at reaching out for grant money,” Voegeli said. “Because there’s a lot of natural preservation to be done here, a lot of community preservation, parks development. The Trust for Public Land would have an interest in some of these areas…the VCCA is probably going to be a major source of funding long term.”