Briarcliff, Lakeside join forces

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 2, 2014
Briarcliff Initiative member Allen Venet left, talks with Lakeside City Alliance Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth during a July 2 DeKalb Operations Task Force meeting. The two groups will work together to incorporate a new city in DeKalb. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

City of Briarcliff Initiative member Allen Venet left, talks with LakesideYES Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth, right, during a July 2 DeKalb Operations Task Force meeting. The two groups will work together to incorporate a new city in DeKalb County. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

Most of the DeKalb Government Operations Task Force meeting on July 2 was a dull, procedural affair.

The task force is charged with studying the impact of new cities on county government.

There were presentations on county demographics and about task force’s objectives. The most intense discussion was about how often the group should meet, with former Decatur mayor Bill Floyd arguing for fewer meetings.

“If I understand you right, I’m going to meet on July 16 in a subcommittee meeting and then I’m going to meet on July 23 to hear what I did in the July 16 meeting,” Floyd said.

Then DeKalb County’s hottest power couple walked up to the microphone.

The groups behind the proposed cities of Lakeside and Briarcliff announced that they will pursue city status together.

“We’re dating right now,” Lakeside City Alliance Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth said, standing next to City of Briarcliff Initiative member Allen Venet. “We’re not married yet. We’re not engaged.”

Woodworth also said the group has changed its name to LakesideYES.

During the 2014 legislative session three groups – Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker – pushed for incorporation of a new city in north DeKalb County. If the Legislature had approved those bills, the cityhood question would’ve been placed on the ballot in 2014. The bills for those cities didn’t pass because of a shorter-than-usual legislative session due to the new elections calendar. The maps for each of the cities overlapped, creating competition among the three groups.

It would be easier to pass a bill for the combined cities of Briarcliff and Lakeside in 2015, assuming the two groups decide to stick together.

Woodworth said July 2 was the first time the two cityhood groups made their status as a couple official.

“We’ve been talking for months about our effort, and just the importance of being able to create a city in our community,” Woodworth said. “We talked last year as well and finally said, ‘Let’s do it. Let us support getting this city done.'”

Venet said the two groups need to resolve their differences before going back to the Legislature in 2015.

“We believe … the answer is for the citizens to work these issues out. So we have reached out to Lakeside,” he said. “We have also reached out to Tucker and we’re pleased to be working with Lakeside and we hope that we can work with Tucker.”

And what about Tucker? At one point toward the end of the 2014 session, Tucker and Lakeside were part of a combined map. Weren’t they supposed to be an item, municipally speaking?

“There was a compromise map that was negotiated at the very end of the session,” Woodworth said. “I wouldn’t say we were working with them.”

Venet and Woodworth said there are still many issues to work through. There’s no new map for the combined Lakeside and Briarcliff. The two sides haven’t even suggested a name. Lakecliff? Briarside?

“We’re still checking each other out,” Woodworth said.

Frank Auman with the Tucker 2015 initiative also spoke during the meeting, talking about the city’s plans to enjoy being single for a little while.

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, who serves on the task force, asked Auman if he wants the Legislature to consider a new map for Tucker, considering the amount of work representatives put into the Lakeside-Tucker map.

“You are proposing with this map to roll all of that progress back,” Jacobs said. “I want to know whether it seriously is your intention to ask the Legislature to reinvent the wheel again.”

DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, who also serves on the Task Force, cut Jacobs off.

“We’re not supposed to be debating tonight and I want to go home at eight o’clock,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the source of a quote and the quote also contained an error. This story has been updated to attribute the quote to Mary Kay Woodworth with LakesideYES and correct that error. 

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