The Christmas lights may have just come down in downtown Kennesaw, but city officials are already working on plans for this year’s Fourth of July celebration.
Kennesaw’s Salute to America event, featuring live music and a fireworks show, has traditionally taken place downtown at Depot Park on July 3, but according to Parks Director Steve Roberts, who addressed the council Monday during its work session, the city has simply outgrown that location. The proximity of newly built townhomes has created safety concerns, limiting the fireworks that can be shot in that location to low-range, 2-inch shells, which reach roughly 200 feet.
In 2019, the fireworks display moved to Adams Park, where the city could shoot 4-inch shells, which can reach about 400 feet, but the new location drew complaints from residents who couldn’t see the show from downtown areas where fireworks had traditionally been visible. According to Roberts, the new construction at the end of J.O. Stephenson Avenue will limit the view even more.
“What caught everybody by surprise last year was they expected it downtown, but it was changed, so there were different spots where people had trouble seeing,” said Councilman David Blinkhorn.
The suggestion from Roberts and City Manager Jeff Drobney is to move the show to Swift-Cantrell Park on Old Highway 41 which would provide the least restricted views.
Councilwoman Tracey Viars expressed reluctance at the idea of moving the event out of downtown, though she said she understood the concerns of city staff. She and Councilman Pat Ferris said they also had major concerns about the traffic situation that would be created by moving to Swift-Cantrell Park.
Drobney said a smaller show at Depot Park isn’t an option this year because of construction that is occurring there.
City staff will put together a plan for parking and shuttle services, as well as coordinate with the Kennesaw Police Department on a traffic plan for getting in and out of Swift-Cantrell Park. They will revisit the issue with the council at a later date.
“With growth of the city, these obstacles happen. We will continue to adapt and adjust,” Roberts told the MDJ.
Next week, the council will vote on the following issues:
♦ A public hearing is scheduled for the property at 1630 Stanley Rd. Oakmont Pacolet Acquisitions, LLC has applied for rezoning for an industrial office warehouse distribution facility. The applicant is also seeking a variance for the 75-foot front setback requirement. Councilman James “Doc” Eaton said he has received almost 60 emails from opposed residents who live adjacent to the property. Simmons is recommending tabling the application until the Feb. 5 planning commission meeting and the Feb. 17 council meeting pending results of the developments of regional impact report results.
♦ A land use request was submitted for 3521 Cherokee St. to allow a home-based beauty salon in a private residence. The business has operated previously in the home, and according to Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons, it is a low-impact business without signage and has never had code enforcement issues. Citizens can comment as this is a public hearing.
♦ The city is beginning the multi-step process of abandoning right-of-way to Poplar Drive, Russell Drive, Pine Drive, Grant Drive, Rockspring Drive and Gilham Drive (also known as Smith Drive). The streets are part of the $250 million to $300 million Eastpark Village mixed-use development. The project is a result of acquiring multiple properties to create the more than 55-acre development. Public Works Director Ricky Stewart said Sanctuary Development will be required to provide road access to any properties in the area that were not part of the assemblage.
Due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the next city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 6:30 p.m.