Historic Roswell Beautification Project
By Ryan Pernice
WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT Roswell’s Historic District (HD) is a gem in North Fulton. Stretching from the Chattahoochee River to Woodstock Street, the HD is a point of pride for residents and a point of interest for visitors.
A young civic group, the Historic Roswell Beautification Project (HRBP), made it a mission to enhance the vibrancy and appeal of our downtown by combining public and private resources. How did this initiative blossom (pun intended)?
Renee Shirley, a Roswell resident with some close connections to several business owners in the HD, personally planted a seed in minds of like-minded citizens. She then fertilized this idea, galvanizing them to brainstorm actions they could take to enhance and beautify the streetscapes in downtown Roswell.
There’s no question in anyone’s mind the riverfront, Roswell Square, and Canton Street provide great “bones” for this community; however, this small group of motivated individuals felt there needed to be more attention to the surface details, which can sometimes be overlooked when we are only seeing the big picture.
They noticed there had not been any focus on or substantial improvements made to the “curb appeal” of this area in many years. We take great care to encourage families, visitors and new enterprises to choose Roswell, but had we neglected to heed what any realtor would instruct - that great curb appeal will be what gets them to take that first look?
It wasn’t long before this group of local business owners and historic district residents discovered they were on to something and decided to call their coalition the Historic Roswell Beautification Project (HRBP). Its initial priority was to begin crafting a vision for a brighter, more colorful and welcoming historic district. That was 12 months ago.
Have you noticed those hanging flower pots along Canton Street? Does the Roswell Square and Canton Street seem brighter? What about the shiny sidewalks through the Heart of Roswell Park and the Roswell Square? Are they more inviting, beckoning you more persuasively lately to come outside for a stroll? Each of these seemingly insignificant improvements are projects of the HRBP and their tireless leader, Renee.
Each project was intentionally collaborative, engaging Roswell residents, local businesses and the City in its execution - a true private / public solution to achieve a community objective. The HRBP worked with Lawn South and the City of Roswell to coordinate planting colorful flowers in all of the hanging baskets for streetlamps along public right-of-ways. The HRBP and their partners pressure washed sidewalks, weeded pathways, and laid paving stones in overgrown bare stretches of dirt.
Caldwell Tree Care “limbed-up” the trees in the parks and those along Canton Street, opening the tree canopy and allowing the street lamps’ golden lights to glow more proudly. Lawn South and Caldwell Tree Care donated a lot of their own time and their own resources to these efforts. When I expressed my personal gratitude, their simple words told me - and their humble attitudes implied, “We live here, too.” And that was that.
There is always more we can do. Renee and the HRBP won’t rest on any laurels. There are plans for street planters - large and small; a tree lighting at the Roswell Square; more appealing curb improvements; cigarette disposal posts; more trash recepticles and some bench refurbishments. Anyone with a smile is welcome to join the great folks of the HRBP and take part polishing the varnish which had begun to dull Roswell’s shine. If you can’t join the HRBP at this time, please do take notice of these changes and be sure to thank the individuals and businesses who work behind the scenes so we can all enjoy and appreciate where we make our homes and livelihoods.
Simple beautification measures like these don’t just “happen.” We make them happen. And then we watch as visitors interpret these efforts as evidence of our City tagline, “Modern Spirit. Southern Soul.”
As the HRBP prepares for the busy Spring planting season, it’s hoping more residents will be inspired to join them. Donations are always needed, as well, as it is a 100% volunteer organization. And, the next time you and your family, colleagues or friends are strolling down Canton Street or enjoying the the central parks, you can feel a little pride knowing you were part of something BEAUTIFUL.