The city of Roswell hosted a public forum in Ward 1 on Monday evening at the Roswell Recreation and Adult Center.
Around seven citizens attended the meeting with 11 city staff and Councilors Juan Oropesa, Jacob Roebuck and Jeanine Corn Best. At the beginning of the meeting, Planning Manager Bill Morris wrote a citizen-suggested agenda. City Manager Joe Neeb facilitated discussion on the following topics: sanitation and grappler trucks, sidewalks, parking on Riverside Drive near Enchanted Lands Park at 306 N. Sycamore Ave., vector control and speeding on Lea Avenue.
“When the city is efficient and friendly and communicates well, that does set a tone that the citizens will pick up on,” Roebuck, who represents Ward 1, said. “If we do our job well as a city, it will help the citizens in their neighborhoods do their jobs well, but we’ve got to take that leap. We’ve got to do the job well first and the citizens will follow that.”
Along with Roebuck’s statement on communication between the citizens and the city, Neeb urged citizens to call instead of waiting for city council meetings to help the city provide service efficiently.
“What we want to make sure is that everybody understands, all you have to do is make a phone call and email or something and that will get it into the queue,” Neeb said.
The city is working on a “more robust work order system” Neeb said — but in the meantime, citizens can submit requests on the city’s website. Juanita Jennings, public affairs director, gave instructions to click under the ‘How Do I’ tab on the far right of the homepage. After this, citizens can then click to submit a concern and will be directed to a FixIt form.
Neeb said the city will send requests to the appropriate department and if the citizen provides contact information, the staff can contact them.
In regard to Enchanted Lands Park, three residents said they were concerned about parking for those using the park and were requesting that parking remain on the park side rather than near their homes. The concern that the park was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act was also raised.
One citizen said a group of six to seven residents attended the council meeting last Thursday to share these concerns. Best said in conversation with the group that she suggested they attend the forum and was proud they were present on Monday. After the discussion, Neeb also asked for a petition from the Enchanted Lands group, which he said would help the city come up with a solution.
At this time, City Engineer Louis Najar said, pedestrian signs have been placed to slow the traffic a bit. Najar said he has considered the no parking option — but warned that residents would give up that parking as well. He has reached out to the parks department in order to determine the best placement for parking.
“Of course it is a good problem to have that people are using the park so much,” Elizabeth Gilbert, director of administrative services, said. “We are happy about that so — if I could speak for probably all the staff in here, any one of us are willing to talk with a citizen about any issue you have and work with you to make sure that whatever your concerns are, you are getting to the right people and getting your problem heard effectively.”
Police Chief Phil Smith said if there is parking blocking the way for emergency service vehicles, citizens can call the Roswell Police Department. He said someone from the police department will come and find the owners to ask them to move their cars.
Former Mayor Tom Jennings asked about enforcement of parking on sidewalks, safety hazards and maintenance on the bike trails, other park concerns, homelessness between the civic center and museum, and the disbanded commission on accessibility and ADA compliance.
On the subject of vector control, Najar said it is taken care of by the streets department and the county. Najar said this weekend or next, Cielo Grande will be sprayed to prepare for Hike It & Spike It. He said the city pays the county $40,000 to $50,000 to spray and the city calls in when they notice mosquitos and still water.
On the sanitation topic, the city has five grappler trucks and is looking to hire four people to keep debris and larger items out of the alleys.
“The whole concept is we keep the alleyways cleaner, keep the neighborhoods cleaner, the psychology of the people change and they start to take a little more pride of the neighborhoods, we hope, and that makes our job easier,” Neeb said. “I don’t have to hire five more police officers because people are taking care of their neighborhoods as well.”
“I would personally like to thank the citizens that have come,” Best said, expressing frustration that city staff sometimes outnumber citizens present at forums. Best expressed a desire for the word about the meetings to get out, and for people to get involved.
“I want it on Facebook. Ms. Jennings is doing an awesome job getting out there. We are trying to be new and updated and get more information in — but it’s not just us.
“We are doing the best we can and our staff is doing an awesome job no matter where they are. The history is not great in Roswell. We are trying to rebuild this. We have new councilors that care. Some of us old councilors gave up after the first two years. We are rejuvenated again. We are excited! We want you guys to come and tell us … We don’t ignore it. We read it. We may not answer back but we read it. We want you guys to be involved.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.