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Kennesaw, GA– On September 12, a public meeting is scheduled at Marietta High School Performing Arts Center (1171 Whitlock Rd, Marietta) from 5:00 – 7:00 pm by Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Superintendent Nancy Walther. The purpose of the meeting is to gain input from the public concerning two proposals affecting visitors to the park. The first proposal is to introduce a parking fee which would support the shuttle bus operation, support the park’s deferred maintenance, and enhance visitor services. The shuttle bus operation will include the expansion of the service, increasing the park’s fleet size, and making enhancements to the mountain road. Fee revenue will support the $2.8 million of deferred maintenance, which includes such projects as the preservation and stabilization of the 11 miles of earthworks throughout the park, bridge replacement at John Ward Creek, and trail maintenance. Generated revenue will also support visitor services such as a youth programs, exhibits, and leveraging technology to better reach a more modern audience. The proposed parking fee, $5.00/daily, will be an on-your-honor system with iron rangers at each of the parking lots within the park. This proposed parking fee will include shuttle service up and down the mountain to all visitors. A $40/annual pass will be available for purchase at the Visitor Center and at the park website. The Interagency pass, Interagency Senior pass and the Interagency Access pass will be accepted in place of the daily and the annual pass.
The second proposal is to close the mountain road to private motorized vehicular traffic seven days a week, making sole access to the mountain top via shuttle bus or on foot or bicycle. This proposal is driven by safety concerns for users. The mountain road is steep (12% grade), winding (9 blind curves), and narrow (10 ft. wide driving lanes), with little or no shoulder. The 1.5 mile road is also heavily used by many different users (to include walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and personal automobilists). These different user groups generate substantial conflicts. In 2015, there were 73 total calls for service on Kennesaw Mountain drive, which included visitor conflicts, traffic complaints/incidents, and medical calls. Re-structuring access is a measure to minimize safety issues. The implementation of a seven day a week shuttle service will enhance the visitor’s safety and park experience by allowing them to walk or run up the mountain road by providing recreational foot traffic with their own designated section. That is not possible in the current space with the current volume of constant vehicular traffic. This public meeting on September 12 is being held to allow input from park users, park neighbors, community members, and the interested public concerning the two aforementioned proposals. Written comments may be submitted online via the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment site at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=74662 or via comment cards which will be available at the park’s Visitor Center. The public comment period is between August 22 and October 10, 2017.