After recent gambling and drug busts at the Six Flags Food Mart, 370 Six Flags Dr. in Austell, Cobb Police Precinct 2 Capt. Jeff Adcock told Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid’s Saturday town hall audience that the county’s community development department had denied its alcohol permit and business license requests. And the store owner’s attorney decided not to appeal the decision.
“The Food Mart is out of business,” Adcock said to applause from the 35 residents and 25 county employees in attendance.
The store had served as an “open air drug market,” where police would regularly make arrests after watching hand-to-hand narcotics sales in its parking lot, Adcock said.
“It was keeping a lid on things, but it wasn’t solving the problem,” he said.
In January, police announced that 12 people had been arrested and charged with crimes involving illegal narcotics sales and gambling in and around the Food Mart. Later, an employee at the store, Desta Demissie Belihu, was arrested and charged with engaging in a commercial gambling operation. Adcock said employees illegally redeemed print tickets from gambling machines in the store for cash.
While the owner of the aging building is looking for a new tenant to fill it, Adcock said the county will work to make sure the business serves a better purpose in the future.
“We don’t want to move one tenant out and bring in another one doing the exact same thing,” he said.
Adcock said police are currently working on taking action at a couple other area stores.
Cobb Department of Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo said she will present a plan to the board of commissioners later this month for “flex bus” service to replace Cobb Community Transit Route 35, which served the area between Austell and the Holmes MARTA station near the intersection of Interstates 20 and 285. The route was one of three CCT routes eliminated due to low ridership as part of 2011 budget cuts.
The flex bus operates as a hybrid between a fixed route in a defined area and a demand response, or “dial-a-ride” service, DiMassimo said.
“The first such flex bus that we are going to consider will be in this area,” she said.
After a break for pizza the commissioner provided, Cupid took questions for a half hour. Residents told Cupid they wanted to see something done to get businesses along Six Flags Drive to replace unattractive signs, even if it meant using community development grants to entice them. Others wanted to see sidewalks placed in their neighborhoods.
While DiMassimo said the county is planning to put in sidewalks in south Cobb, they are now slated to go along busier streets, as opposed to residential areas.
Cupid said she is trying to find a “robust funding source” to help pay for more sidewalks.
The meeting at the South Cobb Recreation Center on Six Flags Drive was Cupid’s fourth since taking office at the start of 2013. She has enjoyed hearing from residents.
“Our community is diverse, our concerns are diverse,” she said. “Everyone feels encouraged that we’re going to see improvements in the district.”
Cupid’s town halls were a big change from previous Commissioner Woody Thompson, who didn’t hold one of the meetings from September 2011 until he left office. That wasn’t lost on Doug Bradford, who lives off Wade Road. He hopes that Cupid will take some of the things she learns in meetings back to the other commissioners.
“I think we’re having meetings, which is great,” he said. “People get to explain their concerns, and you find out that other people have the same concerns.”