Smyrna residents in opposition to city’s $6.7 million downtown redevelopment
Smyrna residents are not feeling jonquil about their mayor and the city’s vision for a $6.7 million downtown redevelopment, along with plans to sell city-owned property to a brewery. At a recent town hall meeting that included around 50 in attendance, opponents continued to criticize leaders and their downtown redevelopment plans. Still Fire Brewing is the business in question that hopes to open a brewery in the heart of Smyrna’s downtown, but not so fast say some residents. Expressing frustration, many have grilled city officials on their redevelopment plans and made it clear that they are opponents of the plans to sell property to a Suwanee brewery.
Despite their opposition, Mayor Derek Norton is championing the issue in saying, “I am hopeful, and I think this would be a great thing for the city. I make no bones about it; I think this would be fantastic.”
Prior to facing community opposition, the city had originally approved the concept on June 21 for the redesign.
City leaders argued that the makeover will add more green space, make the downtown area pedestrian friendly, lure more visitors to downtown, and spark economic development. The makeover includes removal of the fountain and roundabout at Centennial Park at Village Green. It would be replaced with a new park and splash pad that would extend from the community center south to Bank Street. The plans also call for the construction of a three-story parking deck that holds 250 spaces at a cost of $4 million. For some strange reason, Smyrna leaders envision the brewery as a centerpiece of the downtown reboot as they tout a kid friendly splash pad and family friendly park. Detractors say the brewery was brought in with no discussion and has faced no competition to purchase the premium location. Others questioned whether the property is being sold too cheaply.
Smyrna City Council unanimously approved terms of sale of the acre of empty land to StillFire, but said the final sale price has not been agreed upon. A letter of intent is listing the asking price at $600,000.
To oversee the downtown redevelopment, a new Downtown Redesign Details Committee was created. The committee will consist of eight-members made up of the five council members who voted for the downtown redesign, as well as three citizen experts in landscape architecture, building, and marketing. The committee will be tasked with drilling down on details including the size of the new splash pad, landscaping, lighting, and sidewalks. Their recommendations will come before the public for comment at public hearings. After any adjustments, the City Council will then vote to finalize the refined redevelopment plans.
Opponents of the redevelopment have staged rallies on the intended site of the brewery and plan to hold more protests this weekend. Some question the building of a park and the installation of a brewery, saying that they are not compatible and do not go together in the community. They also worry about a brewery leading to DUIs as they point out its proximity to a nearby church and the community center.