Mar. 16—In a virtual address to the Mableton Improvement Coalition this week, south Cobb Commissioner Monique Sheffield pointed to parks, transit improvements, and a burgeoning real estate market as signs of the area's growing prosperity.
Sheffield added Mableton has a ways to go if it wants to compete with other parts of the county for new business and development, however.
"We have to look attractive enough to attract business, and sadly, in some pockets of the district, or even some pockets of Mableton, we are just not looking that way," Sheffield said.
To continue improving the area, Sheffield, a real estate broker and former member of the Cobb Board of Zoning Appeals, wants to strike a balance of attracting new businesses, bolstering existing ones, and building out enough residential units to support a thriving local economy.
"What we hear a lot of ... is that we want more restaurants in the community, we want more shopping, or different types of shops," she said. "What we hear from developers is that for the restaurants, shops, et cetera, we need rooftops ... they need residential properties in the community to be able to support those businesses."
Later in the presentation, Ray Thomas, chair of the Mableton Improvement Coalition, expressed support for creating a community improvement district. Thomas singled out Veterans Memorial Highway as one area where a Mableton CID could lead the way on beautification and redevelopment efforts.
"If we can get this thing off the ground, it may be the conduit through which we can see and get businesses to improve their appearances and so forth within the community," Thomas said.
Sheffield also expressed support for that proposal, saying a CID "would also be a driver of bringing in new businesses into the community."
The MDJ reported in February 2019 that efforts were underway to create Cobb's fourth CID. Joel Cope of the Mableton Improvement Coalition told the Journal at the time his group had partnered with the county in 2018 to pursue the effort. Cope and then district commissioner Lisa Cupid said at the time they were in the process of educating area property owners about the benefits of being in a CID.
A CID is a geographical area in which nonresidential commercial property owners agree to tax themselves above the regular tax rate. The idea is to use that extra revenue to draw down additional state and federal dollars, which are then spent to improve the area's infrastructure and beatification.
Sheffield, who has been involved for several years in discussions of creating a city of Mableton as a member of the South Cobb Alliance, said that issue should ultimately be left up to residents.
"Cityhood cannot be forced on the residents," Sheffield said. "My position has always been to leave it to the homeowners to decide ... it is up to the community."
Outlining recent victories for the community, Sheffield name checked the Chattahoochee River Trail as a potential boon for Mableton. The pilot portion of the project was approved by the Board of Commissioners last summer, when Cupid represented the district, and could one day be a segment of a 125-mile trail between Forsyth and Coweta counties.
The project got a boost earlier this month when the commissioners allocated $3 million from extra 2016 SPLOST revenue to the trail, over Commissioner Keli Gambrill's opposition. Sheffield added the project had recently been denied a grant for additional cash, but she and other community members were continuing to explore other funding options.
Sheffield also highlighted the forthcoming ribbon cutting for Discovery Park at the Riverline, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 31. The 103-acre park was purchased by Cobb in the early 1990s, with a master plan being approved in 2018 by commissioners. The park includes over a mile of river frontage and will feature interpretive sites for a series of Civil War-era earthworks.