Acworth looks to future with quality of life renovations
by Hannah Morgan
October 05, 2013 01:24 AM | 3093 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ACWORTH — A bus system tailored toward senior citizens, a new pedestrian overpass and a potential hotel development could be coming to Acworth, Mayor Tommy Allegood revealed at the city’s biannual town hall, but these plans are still in the early stages of development.

The quality of life in the city, he said, has made Acworth the ideal place to live for people of all ages.

Especially those 65 and older.

“With 78 million baby boomers out there, by the time we get to the year 2020, one in every five citizens in the city of Acworth will be over 65. … most communities haven’t even thought about how they are going to be ready for this aging population. We are planning for the future,” Allegood said at the town hall Wednesday night.

A new senior residence, Dogwood Forest Assisted Living Community, is expected to open this spring, and provide another 92 rooms for active senior residents.

This comes on the heels of another senior living community, The Legacy at Walton Overlook, which opened in the summer of 2012 off of Cowan Road behind the Cobb County Fire Station #11.

A few residents of this community, along with about 50 other Acworth residents, showed up at Acworth City Hall on Wednesday night for the biannual town hall gathering.

Locals had a chance to ask city officials about specific property developments and plans for city-wide walking trails, and learn about the history of the city.

The lights were dimmed, and Allegood went through a history lesson of the city. He clicked through a slideshow that began in 1840 when Northcutt Station, a stop for the Western Atlantic Railroad, was established.

The site was renamed Acworth shortly after, when engineer Joseph Griggs named the stop for his hometown in Acworth, N.H.

In 1860, it became the incorporated city of Acworth, and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman camped out on Main Street for six months, Allegood said. Before Sherman left, Allegood added, Sherman tore up the railroad tracks and burned the city.

When there was a glitch in the slideshow, someone shouted from the crowd “government shutdown?” and the audience broke out in laughter.

No contests, no elections in Acworth

Allegood and the city’s five aldermen will begin another term this year, as they all have run unopposed. For this reason, elections in Acworth have been canceled, saving the city $10,000 Allegood said. He will start his fourth term this year as mayor, and the city’s five aldermen have served together for almost 10 years, Allegood said.

The mayor stressed that the quality of life has remained excellent in the city because of the hard work and strong relationships that exist between the city officials.

Allegood said the city has emphasized improving six specific points of life, including educational excellence, community diversity and church leadership, which have helped the city grow from about 6,000 residents 15 years ago to about 24,000 current residents.

The growth was heavily dependent upon roughly $35 million in special purpose local option sales tax revenues in the past 15 years, Allegood said, which have been used to remodel intersections, downtown Main Street, and to build four new schools for the city.

“Thank you for voting for SPLOST funds,” the mayor said to the crowd.

The tax money will be used to build a new police station which is expected to begin construction this fall, said Acworth Police Capt. Mark Cheatham.

Residents asked about the progress of the new Cabela’s, a big-box store specializing in camping, hunting and other outdoor sporting goods that is under construction and expected to open in fall 2014 in the Cherokee Village development off of I-75 and Highway 92.

While, technically, the store will be within Cherokee County, Acworth City residents are excited for its arrival, they said.

Few details yet on bus plan

Details of the pedestrian overpass, the senior citizen transit system and a potential hotel development could not be revealed Wednesday night, Allegood said, because these plans are just in the beginning stages of planning.

The mayor will be meeting with members of the Cobb County Transit next week to discuss how Acworth could take on a version of the Flex bus system, which travels a specific route, but has the flexibility to make stops not on the route, depending on what the community needs, according to the Cobb County Transit website.

Allegood urged residents to come out to the State of the City Address on Feb. 6, where he promised to present more concrete details on future development plans for the city.

West Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham and northeast Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell introduced themselves, as well as Cobb Board of Education Chairman Randy Scamihorn.

After the meeting ended, residents mingled with city officials and caught up with their neighbors.

Deborah Heyward, who will mark her one-year anniversary as an Acworth resident next month, said she was glad she came to the meeting.

She lives in the new senior community, The Legacy at Walton Overlook.

“I wanted to know what was going on, the future plans on the agenda, the history of the city and I got to put a face to the name of the city officials,” she said.

Heath and Kathleen Merrill brought their 4-month-old son, Mattux, to his first town hall meeting because they wanted to know what was going on in the city, they said. The couple moved to Acworth five years ago, and work as social studies and math teachers at Hillgrove High School.

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