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Parking crucial to future of downtown area
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Forsyth County News

In pondering the future of downtown Cumming, it is entirely permissible to dream a little.

With plans now under way to build a new courthouse and jail using a “town green” concept that will incorporate some open spaces, and at the same time razing some of the existing downtown structures, such as the detention center and an old parking deck, it isn’t hard to imagine a downtown area with an attractive new look and feel.

And while initially the core of the city will retain a heavy government presence, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see it growing to include more businesses, restaurants and commercial sites, made possible in part by the people drawn to the city by government business.

With just a little imagination it isn’t hard to see downtown Cumming rebuilding itself as some other nearby towns have done, with family friendly areas, pedestrian walkways,  well-lit thoroughfares and a blend of entertainment and commercial offerings in addition to institutional buildings.

For those sorts of dreams to have a hope of becoming reality, however, you have to have ample parking, which is why a proposal put forth last week by a project team planning the new courthouse and jail projects makes sense.

Rather than one large parking deck downtown the team has suggested two smaller decks, one on each side of the existing downtown square.

The idea makes sense, especially when you consider that one of the primary reasons commercial ventures in decades past vacated the nation’s downtown areas and moved to outlying strip shopping centers was the appeal of having plenty of parking.

Dream a little, and it isn’t hard to imagine those two parking decks becoming the anchors of change and redevelopment for more of the downtown area than just the traditional courthouse square. With some transportation improvements and plenty of parking, there is the potential for downtown to reconfigure itself into something special, especially considering the proximity of venues such as the fairgrounds and Cumming Playhouse.

Of course there’s no guarantee that the proposed parking decks will help to spur a revamped downtown, but it’s a certainty that without ample parking the area has no chance to ever become what it could be.

We look forward to seeing the final proposals, but the idea of twin parking decks on either side of the downtown area is one that makes a lot of sense.