EAST COBB — Though the boundaries of the proposed city of East Cobb would geographically divide the Powers Ferry Corridor Alliance, those who attended the group’s meeting Wednesday made no rumblings for or against cityhood as proponents gave an overview of their vision.
The two-hour meeting of the nonpartisan, nonprofit community group held at Brumby Elementary School drew a total attendance of 287, which is believed to be the largest number of attendees for a Powers Ferry Corridor Alliance meeting. The event focused on several topics, with David Birdwell and Rob Eble, members of the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb, given about 15 minutes to speak on their movement ahead of a question-and-answer session at the meeting’s end.
Though the organization has taken no official position on the cityhood issue, “we are immensely interested, and it’s a topic we’re going to watch very closely and try to get good information to people so they can make their own decision,” said Patricia Rice, president of the Powers Ferry Corridor Alliance, who said Birdwell and Eble were invited to present an overview of cityhood to allow for “informed dialogue” on the topic.
As proposed, the city’s boundaries would be the northern portion of Cobb County District 2, starting above the Wildwood office park, Cumberland CID, and excluding any portion of incorporated Marietta.
“I don’t have an exact percentage — I just tell people it’s splitting us right down the middle,” Rice said. “We typically run out to about on the west I-75, on the south (the) I-285 overpass, and we like to think come out to here (Terrell Mill Road) or to Paper Mill Road, so thinking about that, that it’s going to have a boundary along Powers Ferry (Road) for a while.”
Among the questions for Birdwell and Eble, which were submitted on notecards, was how the proposed city boundaries were chosen.
“The advice from the legislators was to use boundaries that had already been drawn — don’t have (a) group of citizens try to pick and choose boundaries. That’s why the northern part of District 2, starting with the Cumberland CID at Wildwood and (going) north, and excluding any part of incorporated city of Marietta, was what those boundaries were in the initial feasibility study,” Birdwell said, but added that his group has already received feedback on the possible city limits.
In a town hall meeting last month, Karen Hallacy, a member of the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb, said the committee has discussed pushing boundary lines further west. She said the lines could be extended as far west as Shallowford and Trickum roads to include the Pope and Lassiter areas, adding that state Rep. Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb, has expressed interest in amending the cityhood bill he sponsored.
Birdwell downplayed the possibility of East Cobb having its own city jail, saying city facilities were a topic to be determined down the road.
“This is a group of citizens that is just trying to get this to a vote,” he said. “As I understand it, most other cities contract that service out with the county.”
Though Cobb Commission Chairman Mike Boyce and District 2 Commissioner Bob Ott were in attendance Wednesday and took part in the meeting, speaking on topics such as transit issues and development, neither addressed the cityhood movement in their respective remarks.
Joe Strickland is a project manager for a media services organization and an east Cobb resident residing in the Wildwood community whose home would not be within the proposed city’s boundaries. He expressed openness to the idea of a new city.
“Obviously, I’d have another jurisdiction that I’d have to be conscious of entering close by as you’re driving up and down the street. I’m already close to Marietta, and now if I go in the other direction, I’d be going into this other city,” Strickland said. “It could be nice if it generated a city center somewhere nearby, like a downtown area or maybe a destination, that sort of thing, that would be convenient even though it won’t be my city, an amenity in the area for me outside the city.”
Birdwell and Eble said they are looking at holding a forum focused solely on East Cobb cityhood sometime in June, but have not yet set a date or location.