Nearly three weeks after residents’ uproar squelched plans to build a proposed tennis center in a city park, Roswell Mayor Lori Henry said the way the project was rolled out “clearly did not” serve the community’s best interests.
“When I look back at the situation, I see a lot of room for improvement, and I intend to make sure those improvements happen,” Henry said in a statement Friday.
On August 9, city leaders announced a plan to build a $50 million tennis center on 60 acres of Big Creek Park, destroying mountain biking and hiking trails. Residents and others who use the park quickly opposed the proposal, which was due for a preliminary vote by city council four days later. More than 30,000 people signed a petition rejecting the plan, and the vote was never held.
Henry and other council members had been discussing the proposal for months, but no public input was solicited. In her statement, Henry said she and others had the “best intentions” when they unanimously voted to move forward with the project, but their efforts fell short.
On social media, some residents praised the mea culpa, while others said the statement was too little, too late.
“What is concerning to me is that you required hindsight to help you understand the minimal requirements of representing your city: transparency and soliciting community feedback,” one resident wrote on Nextdoor.
Another said he was “sure new initiatives will be brought to the public sooner” and urged leaders to use the situation as a learning experience.
Henry announced plans for an Oct. 4 meeting to discuss how the city handled the project and hear from residents about their interest in having a tennis center elsewhere in the city. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the East Roswell Park Community Activity Building.
“As elected officials, we must go to the community to get the necessary feedback,” she wrote.
Henry also said a new city policy will require public input any time changes are being considered to public property. And she said she will ensure that any master plans — such as Big Creek Park’s — are on Roswell’s website so they can be accessed by residents. Additionally, Henry said she wants to ensure that master plans are reviewed and updated regularly.
“I recognize that, as time passes, the needs and wishes of a community can change,” she wrote. “The city needs to make certain master plans accurately represent the wishes of the community.”