Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kennesaw Council Candidates dish on traffic, trash
Jon Gargis MDJ 10/14/17
To one man vying to become Kennesaw’s next Post 5 councilman, the parking deck behind the Revival on Main mixed-use development off South Main Street is an asset. To the other, it’s an expense that used money that could have gone toward a potential revenue-generating city service.
In August, Post 5 Councilman Jim Sebastian decided not to run for reelection and instead jumped in the race to unseat Post 4’s Jimmy Dickens, joining Chris Henderson to make the contest a three-man race.
Sebastian’s challenge to his fellow councilman opened the door for a new face to join the council.
David Blinkhorn was the first to file his papers during election qualifying, while Bobby Copeland days later became his opponent by qualifying as a write-in candidate.
Blinkhorn, a materials management professional for Kennesaw State University, says he sees the parking deck as a component in managing traffic in Kennesaw and developing a more active downtown.
“The traffic’s there (downtown). The biggest concern to me is how to effectively do the parking,” Blinkhorn said, adding that the deck can provide residents and visitors with a place to leave their cars, though the downtown area itself needs reasons to lure those drivers. If elected, he would push for more businesses downtown.
“I would love to see more activity downtown. I don’t want to say ‘I want to be like Acworth’ or ‘I want to be like Marietta’ — their downtown is on a different scale, a tremendous amount of activity,” Blinkhorn said. “The comparison I make is you go to Swift-Cantrell Park, there’s thousands of people there on the weekend, and you drive one mile downtown, and you don’t have anywhere near that.”
Copeland, owner of Executive Solutions, which provides cleaning services and contracts with firms to handle customer service and sales calls, says he believes the money spent on the parking deck could have been spent elsewhere. Among his ideas he would push for as a councilman is moving trash collection back as a city service. The city contracts with Republic Services to provide sanitation services to residents.
“Right now, Republic does own that contract, and they can kind of raise their rates whenever they want to, like they did recently. I’d look to see how could we (the city) profit off of that versus letting Republic profit off of it every year,” Copeland says, referring to the City Council’s approval last month of a $3 monthly fee increase to provide the service.
The millions spent on the parking deck, Copeland adds, could have been used to bring back the city’s sanitation department.
Kennesaw’s Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2014 approved the issuance of two 30-year bond issues totaling $6.4 million, which were to be used to purchase the parking deck built behind Revival on Main, the MDJ reported at the time.
“That could’ve been something we could’ve used to rebuild the sanitation (department) and make a profit, because that parking garage, people who stay there, they don’t have to pay a fee,” Copeland said. “And we’re repaying this $6 million bond on that garage, and it makes us no money whatsoever.”
Blinkhorn says that while he would not be opposed to moving garbage collections back under the city, it would not be an immediate priority.
“My bigger concern is I know the contract is coming up, they just did an extension, but I think there are some points within the contract that could be renegotiated or gotten out of,” he said.
The two candidates also have their sights on the topic of development.
For Copeland, that means putting a halt to residential developments, saying he would not support as a councilman any new subdivisions or apartment complexes.
“Kennesaw is crowded right now. Sometimes it’s taking 20 minutes just to get 5 miles around the corner, because there’s so much bumper-to-bumper traffic all day long. It can be day and night, and right now, if we start building more houses for more people to come, that’s a good thing, yes, for the taxes, but you get a few people out there (on the roads) that kind of don’t like being in that bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Copeland said.
Blinkhorn said his focus on development would be centered on creating partnerships with the cities of Marietta and Acworth, especially the latter due to its close proximity to Kennesaw, and create a “cultural corridor” concept between the neighboring cities.
“As opposed to going down Cobb Parkway, which is a retail area one after the other after the other, is have it one continuous thing like you have the greenways that are all being tied together throughout Atlanta, try to do something with that being small businesses, small parks, those kinds of things,” he said.
Residents who head to the polls to vote in the Post 5 race will only see Blinkhorn’s name on the ballot; those wishing to select Copeland will have to write in his name. The top vote-getter in the Nov. 8 election will take office in January.

To one man vying to become Kennesaw’s next Post 5 councilman, the parking deck behind the Revival on Main mixed-use development off South Main Street is an asset. MDJONLINE.COM

The Kennesaw Watch 

I can't vote in K but I can tell you what I have said for about six yrs on the topic of businesses in downtown K, and that is that there needs to be more and when Revival on Main St was opened that ground floor rental space was NOT rented out, still isn't and it is not even finished off inside. I have said for 3 yrs that K should 'make them' rent it out. What I get back from one of the Current Council is whining that it is a private company and the City can't do anything. 

My reply has always been along the lines of 'BULLSHIT' get the code enforcement over there every day writing them up for the many infractions they have and let them know that they will be visiting repeatedly until they start renting out those retail spaces. My calling card use to say 'Lead, Follow or Get The Hell Out of the Way', a good slogan for anyone who wants a job on the K Council. (Photo: is some of that unused ground floor retail space)



Kennesaw Police host Drug Take-Back Day

  • Staff reports
  •  MDJ 10/6/17
    This is an opportunity for those who missed the previous events or have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs to safely dispose of those medications. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
    Residents can from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. bring prescriptions to the CVS Pharmacy, 2782 Cobb Parkway in Kennesaw.
    “The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” said Michele M. Leonhart, DEA administrator. “DEA remains hard at work to establish just such a drug disposal process, and will continue to offer take-back opportunities until proper regulations are in place.”

    Kennesaw council could OK 125 student apartments this month

  • Jon Gargis
  •  MDJ 10/6/17

      Neighbors of a proposed 125-unit student housing development within the city limits of Kennesaw are expected to continue to voice opposition on the project when it comes before the City Council later this month.
    Fountain Residential is seeking to build the apartment complex on the site of three homes at 1465 Shiloh Road, 4058 and 4068 Ayers Drive. The 6-acre development’s estimated value is about $100 million or more, said attorney Kevin Moore, who is representing Fountain.
    The Dallas, Texas-based developer is also pursuing this month a county rezoning for 195 student apartments within an estimated $30 million mixed-use development that would replace the IceForum at Town Center, 3061 George Busbee Parkway NW, at the corner of Big Shanty Road. It was approved earlier this week by the Cobb Planning Commission and could be voted on by county commissioners at their Oct. 17 meeting. Moore said that the two developments are not contingent on one another and are being pursued separately.
    The smaller Fountain project earned approval Wednesday night from Kennesaw’s planning and zoning board, Moore said.
    The student apartment complex, he added, would be a fit on Shiloh Road, which serves as a commercial corridor district, and because the road nearly directly feeds into the Kennesaw State University campus.
    “The university’s bus system currently comes right by this property, so we’ll be coordinating with the university on transportation and creating that opportunity (for residents),” Moore added.
    But the complex’s addition of traffic to the corridor, and the roads that would lead to it, are among the concerns of Michael Lavender, who as the president of the Pinetree Civic Association represents about 100 dues-paying residents who live around the nearby Pinetree Country Club off McCollum Parkway.
    Lavender, who resides on Club Drive, says about 400 homes are located around the country club, and that the neighborhood roads that lead to those residences are already clogged by cut-through traffic from other nearby student housing developments.
    “The development they’re looking at — adding 360 beds on Shiloh Road, which is already congested in the mornings and evenings, will probably get more congested during the day as the students are driving back and forth,” Lavender said.
    While Shiloh Road features sidewalks that run from the proposed development location and along an overpass that crosses Interstate 75 and runs into George Busbee Parkway, Lavender believes students will not be likely to utilize those paths, opting instead to put their cars on the road throughout the day to make drives to and from classes.
    Lavender also expects residents’ visiting friends and classmates to add to the vehicle volume in the area.
    “It’s just a tremendous amount of people in a very small area that’s already overcrowded,” he said.
    Kennesaw city council members could face an overcrowded gallery when the development comes up for a vote, which Lavender said he expects since he was among a standing-room only crowd at Wednesday’s hearing that included significant amount of opposition to the project. The council could give the development its final approval at its 6:30 p.m. meeting Oct. 16.

    Harry’s Farmers Market in Marietta sees massive crowds on final day

    • Katy Ruth Camp  MDJ 10/6/17

    MARIETTA — An iconic Marietta grocer welcomed its last customers yesterday after nearly a quarter of a century in business.
    Harry’s Farmers Market at 70 Powers Ferry Road near the Big Chicken, was flooded with customers Thursday hoping to take advantage of heavily discounted goods. Every item in the high-end grocery store — excluding beer and wine — was 50 percent off in preparation for the Whole Foods-owned store’s move into its new location in Kennesaw, which opened today.
    Shopping carts were so scarce, many people followed other customers out to their cars and asked for their carts once they loaded groceries into their cars. The checkout lines were so crowded, many of the grocery aisles were inaccessible and full of people waiting to get to the cashiers to check out.
    At 1 p.m., two of the cashiers said they had been there since 6:30 a.m. and that there had been a constant swarm of customers.
    Harry’s Marietta location opened in 1993 under Harry Blazer’s ownership. Blazer’s brother, Robert, opened the popular DeKalb Farmer’s Market in 1977 and Harry Blazer came to work as the store manager. After nearly a decade of working with his brother, Harry Blazer broke away from his brother’s store and began opening his own stores with the same concept but under the name Harry’s Farmers Market.
    In 2010, Whole Foods Market acquired Harry’s and, in 2011, the Cobb grocer underwent renovations. Ironically, rumors swirled during renovations that Harry’s was closing due to the opening of a new Whole Foods store in the east Cobb development Merchant’s Walk.
    “Our store is staying open and we have no plans to close in the future,” said marketing director Martha Oh, at the time. “We’ve heard all sorts of rumors, but our west Cobb shoppers would be very disappointed if we closed this location.”
    Whole Foods announced in spring of 2015 that it would be relocating Harry’s Farmers Market into a 46,000-square-foot space in Kennesaw at the corner of Barrett and Cobb Parkways and that it would lose the Harry’s name. The new Whole Foods store opens at 9 a.m. today and the first 500 customers will receive free gifts cards ranging in amounts from $5 to $50, with one $500 card in the mix.
    Five percent of opening-day sales will be donated to the Swift-Cantrell Foundation, which supports the development of Kennesaw’s Swift-Cantrell Park.
    As for the now-former Harry’s space, Studio Movie Grill is expected to open in the shopping center in November, according to its website. The in-theater dining concept will feature several screens along with an American grill menu and premium bar, which moviegoers can order from while they watch their films or enjoy at the bar or lounge.
    The development will include 1,285 luxury lounge chairs and recliners in 11 auditoriums outfitted with the latest digital projection. The company has 30 locations in the U.S., including Duluth and Alpharetta.