Goreham looks for next economic boost
by Jon Gillooly
October 12, 2012 01:18 AM | 2748 views | 11 11 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham is looking for the county’s next economic boost.

“We need to consider looking at the next great thing for Cobb County,” Goreham said, during a town hall forum she held Thursday evening at the county’s Senior Wellness Center on Powder Springs Street.

Years ago, that economic boost was installing an extensive sewer system that allowed Cobb to grow and thrive, she told the 40 attendees, 13 of whom were county staff.

“What’s the next thing that’s going to take us forward? Is it going to be mass transit?” Goreham asked.

Mass transit comes hand-in-hand with economic development, she said.

“Appropriate development and land use goes hand-in-hand,” she said. “Connecting your business centers, your educational centers are all part of it. And I’m just posing that question, is that the next great shot in the arm for Cobb County that’s going to push us forward? I don’t know at this point.”

During the growth years she served as commissioner, from 2003 to 2008, the economic boost for Cobb was single-family residential development and strip centers, Goreham said.

“That’s not going to be what’s going to propel us forward,” she said. “That’s over. You’re going to have some development, but you’re not going to have it to the extent that you had during those real boom years.”

So the question becomes what will aid the county in keeping property taxes low while ensuring growth, she said.

Goreham said mass transit will probably not benefit her. Rather it’s for her children, who are in their 20s, and her grandchildren.

“My kids think it’s cool to be able to step on mass transportation,” Goreham said. “And you know, we’re losing our younger generation, and they’re going to places like Austin and San Antonio … and also to the Charlottes and whatever because they want to give up a car, and they want to get on some form of mass transit and go whether they’re going to work, to restaurants, wherever. We have to look out in the future at what that next great shot in the arm for Cobb County, what’s going to propel us in the future.”

Goreham said incoming residents should be directed to a particular location.

“Why not look at an area of Cobb County that one could probably accept increased density, which is the 41 corridor?” Goreham said.

Goreham said she didn’t want more density in her west Cobb district and was sure her colleagues on the commission didn’t want increased density in their districts.

“Why not localize that growth, provide a means of transportation that could service that growth, and also look at having the opportunity for people to live in that area and increase your population?” she said. “I don’t want to subdivide my acre lots in west Cobb and throw four more homes on that. Why not put it in an area that could maintain the growth, successfully, and provide a transportation mode and then provide opportunities for business growth, connect your job center and your education centers? Makes a lot of sense to me.”

The county is in the process of eyeing this idea with the recommendation of a $1.8 million Northwest Corridor Alternatives Analysis study spearheaded by Croy Engineering to build a proposed $1.1 billion KSU-Midtown bus system that uses both Interstate 75 and Cobb Parkway. Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director, said there is potential for half of the project to be paid for with federal dollars. The proposal is still in draft form while the county waits for Kimley-Horn & Associates to finish up a $3 million environmental study of the project, which will take one to two years. DiMassimo said the earliest the bus program could be operational, should everything fall into place and the county be able to secure the necessary funding, is 10 to 12 years.

“I looked back several years ago when Sam Olens was on the board, and he was a great proponent of the 41 corridor with mass transit,” Goreham said. “We both agreed to the fact that if we’ve got to provide for the thousands of people that are still going to come to Georgia because it’s a great place to live, because of taxes and opportunities, man, I would like to focus it somewhere. I don’t think they want to focus it in Vinings, meaning they don’t want smaller lots and homes on top. They don’t want apartments, but why not choose an area that would thrive with it?”

Goreham was asked about remarks made by Rebecca Gutowsky, who recently retired as division manager of Cobb Community Transit. Gutowsky said one of the challenges her successor will face is the funding and growth of CCT, a system Southeast Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said the county subsidizes $9 million in this year’s budget.

DiMassimo pointed out Thursday’s town hall that $3 million of the $9 million number comes from federal grants.

“It’s actually $6 million in county funding,” DiMassimo said.

Goreham said there was no point expanding the CCT system until a good plan was in place to do so and a secure source of funding was obtained.

“It’s probably going to interface, if indeed we have (bus rapid transit) down that 41 and 75 link, it would be part of that,” Goreham said. “And also part of the funding mechanism there because what’s being looked into right now, there’s developers. You know how you have town center CIDs, self-taxing areas? Well you can have transportation districts, say, if you have a section of 41 where you think you’re going to allow for more density, maybe you’re going to have more apartments in there along a four lane. Perhaps in exchange for that density there is a self-taxing mechanism through the development that provides funding for the transportation. But wait for the AA to come out because they’re supposed to look at the different ways of financing possible.”
Comments
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Moliere
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October 13, 2012
So, does anyone have any other ideas for economic growth besides mass transit? Because, er, Cobb does kind of need it. The defense contract money that drove the Cobb booms from the 70s to the 90s is drying up and isn't coming back. A lot of the "we don't want to locate in Atlanta" businesses that Cobb used to get is now locating in Gwinnett and elsewhere. Cobb is at best treading water while other suburban communities are advancing economically and in political clout. So if you don't like mass transit (which may not necessarily mean MARTA by the way) then I would sure like to hear your ideas. And yes, Goreham is right about metro Atlanta losing desirable jobs to places like San Antonio and Charlotte, and she forgot to add in Dallas and Tampa also. A lot of you have made it clear that you are against mass transit and the city of Atlanta, but being against those isn't going to draw jobs. What are you folks FOR that will actually create jobs in Cobb County? Thanks to other suburban areas in this state as well as other growing metro areas in the south, not being Atlanta is no longer sufficient to grow jobs.
Just Sayin'....
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October 13, 2012
Really Helen???? That is the best you could come up with? Here's an idea....let's recruit business to your district and we won't have to drive to the Galleria area to go to work.
Big Chicken Pundit
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October 13, 2012
IF there WERE demand for mass transit, a private company would provide it. Government should NOT be in the business of telling people where to live and then providing a means to get there.

If we REALLY want to boost economic Development, we'd create an environment that is friendly to business and home ownership. Lower taxes and reduce the impact of Government on business and individuals.
ARC Joke
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October 13, 2012
Regionalism is a way to take power and decision making away from locals and move it to a group of unelected and appointed bureaucrats who pay more attention to "advocates" of particular positions rather than the people of the region. Be very afraid of this, it is an attempt to strip locals of control and liberal advocates get their way in this scenario with no consideration of cost required for us unrepresented populace because we don't have a seat at their table.
Not in my backyard!
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October 12, 2012
I read this and had to re-read this - the point that was to be made by Commissioner Ott is that the CCT system requires a subsidy of $9 million dollars - it does not matter where this come from it requires a subsidy!!!!!!! It does not support itself. $9 million dollars folks. I also was very amused that Comissioner Gorham is in full support of mass transit just not in her area... "I don't want to subdivide my lots in West Cobb and throw 4 more home on that." So her suggestion - why not put it down there on the 41 far far away from me!!!!!!
Kennesaw Resident
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October 12, 2012
Helen has drunk Obama's regional planning kool-aid. Her constituents are too smart to buy into this type of governance, I hope. We need to oppose all types of regional governance as no good can come from it, it you understand the true purpose behind it.
Cobb Taxpayer
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October 12, 2012
Good point Kennesaw Resident. Regional planning is a method to redistribute wealth from suburbs to inner cities. I will fight this any way I can.
WCobber
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October 12, 2012
It is unfortunate that there was no mention in the article on Helen Goreham's Town Hall Meeting or in the MDJ about the main topic of the meeting which was presented by Sam Peng with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), explaining how to prepare for most disasters, including safety tips. But, more importantly, how citizens can volunteer to be a member of CERT to help fellow Cobb County residents who may be victims of disasters.
Nowhere2bfound
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October 12, 2012
Even local politicians like Commissioner Goreham will have to hideout when the dollar collapses and there is rioting in the street. It is just a matter of time!
VFP42
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October 12, 2012
The reason local politicans talk about adding transit to 41 is because they know the car dealers on 41 have the money to shut it down, so the policians are free to say whatever they want, knowing it will never go anywhere.

How about we talk about transit on Atlanta Rd? Nobody uses Atlanta Rd for much of anything. It's twice the size that's needs. Tear up some of it and install light rail TODAY! Let's catch up with the 1980s.. We are only about 30 years late. We can catch up with the rest of the world!!
anonymous
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October 12, 2012
Give it up Helen, your TSPLOST failed, your vote on the the Walmart would have been nice and your support of higher taxes makes you yesterday's news. P.S. if you think we are really losing our young people, check out the census bureau.



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