Kennesaw to establish “Sister City” Commission

Kennesaw City Hall in article about Walk a Mile in her ShoesKennesaw government complex (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

By Rebecca Gaunt

Kennesaw is moving forward with plans to adopt a “sister city” in order to promote educational and cultural exchange, as well as economic development.

Andrew Gasparini, assistant to the city manager, originally presented the plan to the City Council in April, with the support of City Manager Jeff Drobney. Drobney said he supported it as a complement to the international studies magnet program at North Cobb High School and programs at Kennesaw State University.

“A sister cities program sits on a three-legged stool representing economic, educational and cultural exchange,” Gasparini said.

He sought advice from Michael Hughes, who was previously the economic development director for Cobb County, on how to make the partnership effective. During Hughes’ tenure, Cobb County developed such a relationship with Seongdong-gu, South Korea.

That nearly led to Korean companies Kia, LG, and Hanwha establishing small presences in Cobb County, but the relationship fizzled out and nothing came of it. Hughes recommended establishing a formal entity to handle the collaboration.

Council member Pat Ferris said economic development was the most important aspect for him.

“I’d like to see somewhere expressed in the resolution that the majority of the members would be economic types, like our KDDA, Kennesaw Business Association, Chamber of Commerce, you know, different business entities,” Ferris said.

Mayor Derek Easterling responded, “I like the idea of the three-legged stool that he talks about…if you’re gonna focus on economic, you’re going to miss the other two legs of the stool.”

Gasparini requested the Council vote next week on the resolution to establish the Kennesaw Sister City Commission, so he can move forward on creating the bylaws and appointing members. In his research, he said he found that the relationships tended to fall apart when one person was tasked as the point of contact.

“I would expect that the commission create criteria for asking for a future sister city, accepting sister city requests, to make sure that our interests are aligned,” Gasparini said.

Also on the agenda for Monday’s regular meeting:

-Council will hold the final public hearing and vote for amending the code of ordinances with regard to door-to-door solicitation.

-RK Market at 3338 Cherokee Street is facing possible revocation of its alcohol license for a violation during a compliance check. The convenience store had a prior violation and two-week suspension in 2019 and was still in its 24-month probationary period.

-Sanctuary Companies is seeking approval for the second phase of Galt Commons at 2971 Cherokee St. The first phase included 41 single-family residential units and two commercial spaces. Phase two consists of 16 single-family units, which will be part of the “agri-community” theme. The development includes community vegetable and flower gardens and is located in the Central Business District.

-Arris Kennesaw, LLC requested to split a parcel containing 0.536 acres into two tracts. Tract A will contain 0.148 acres and tract B will contain 0.388 acres. Tract A will contain a small church and tract B will be added back into the overall multi-family residential tract for the “Kennesaw Town Center” development.

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