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We all surely remember history enough to recall the value of Paul Revere, who alerted our revolutionary colonists of the oncoming British forces. Then there was a crew member on the Titanic, Fred Fleet. He tried in vain to notify the Captain on the bridge, “iceberg dead ahead”. 

In both instances, we know of the end results. It is particularly telling with the Titanic because it was rumored to be unsinkable. Huh, perhaps it would have been had it really been built to its original spec. You see it was supposed to have been built with 80-gauge steel. Unfortunately, maybe due to the bean counters of that day, it was built with 40-gauge steel. A real lesson there, folks. 

Nevertheless, as I see it, similar warning flags are flying high as it relates to my South Cobb community. They are waving for good reason. It is later than we may think. When tables are loaded with opportunities being set regarding our community, if we are not there, we are likely to be on the menu.  

A ‘so-called community meeting’ was held the other week at our proudest public venue, the Epicenter. Those of us who made the effort to attend were treated to a unilateral communication products that would have made the faculty of Gallaudet College proud. (Gallaudet is a renowned college in Washington, DC for the speech and hearing impaired). 

The purpose of the ‘dog and pony’ meeting was to showcase the South Cobb Redevelopment Authority’s plan for Magnolia Crossing. I will spare you the history of the parcel. One key point you need to know is that the plan has been almost seven years in waiting. Moreover, let me point out the essence of the evening. 

  • There were no opportunities for public discourse or questions from and for the benefit of those in attendance.
  •  The plan presented to those in attendance did not include a development plan for the entire parcel available for development.
  •  There was the pretense that affordable housing for our community means apartments. It almost leads one to believe that being a tenant trumped that of a homeowner. Of course, we know better. 

For me, there were several ‘red flags’ that started blowing in the evening’s breeze. I have long found it so interesting that the decision makers on key projects are ‘Outsiders’ who do not live in the community, yet proffer concern for our community’s development. 

Oh yes, I have heard the stories and claims of how some of them were raised or grew up here. However, I have yet to hear the words, “ I am anxious to move back.” Simply put, they have no stake in the game like we do. Yeah, they would, no doubt, like to claim bragging rights to any successes from their decisions. Remember South Cobb has been studied, polled, and surveyed to the max over the last decade. We have danced to a waltz of apathy, deceit, delay, and denial fairly well, I’d say.

Furthermore, at the meeting, we had to sit and listen to an assessment that mentioned the three desert legs of a community stool when the real number of deserts that exist is four. Here again, we are getting short-changed… again by outsiders. For the record, there is:

  •  A fresh food desert;
  • A medical/urgent care desert; 
  • An affordable housing desert; 
  • And the truth be known, a bank desert. 

Interestingly enough, the fourth desert was not mentioned, nor addressed.  

Oh, and by the way, the cap index crime stats are sobering. These numbers not only beg for attention, but the five year projections, if neglected, will stave off quality restaurants, well known retail establishments and/or chains. 

Conversely, the City of Smyrna is doing its due diligence in regards to the location of a quality craft beer brewery. We could be as fortunate to have suitors like that for Magnolia Crossing. If you have not longed for a nice place to enjoy a cold brew with friends, or a meeting place to socialize and converse in the community, you might not feel me. 

If you have not lacked access to nice, quality restaurant choices to enjoy a business lunch or a family dinner, you might not feel me. If you are not concerned about the expanding wealth gap that exists in South Cobb, you might not feel me. If you have not seen an area that is already laden with apartments, and in need of homes that could translate into home ownership opportunities for its workforce, you might not feel me. 

It would be a tremendous oversight and missed opportunity for a major development parcel, like Magnolia Crossing, to not include retail, a public safety presence, and affordable homes to complement the needed living quarters for our senior citizens.

The warning flags should portend deep concerns. This project will not meet our needs, nor be the economic lynchpin of opportunity unless we demand a seat at the table now. 

Furthermore, one could have noticed as I did, the continued absence of our phalanx of elected representatives. No state representative or state senator, save our District Commissioner, who was present, in the mix, yet absent.

Of note, our Commissioner has provided a road map for anyone wishing to change their lot in life during this time of low unemployment, low mortgage interest rates, and rising health challenges. It surely must have been frustrating to look around and realize you seem to be the ‘lone ranger’ at such a critical time as this.

What’s the next step? There is supposed to be a public hearing on the proposed project to get BOC approval. I urge you to be present and accounted for to let your voices be heard. A closed mouth never gets fed and a closed fist never lets in a willing hand for progress and a rising tide of prosperity.

Let not history record us as being the Rip Van Winkle community of metro Atlanta in 2022.


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