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‘Art’ contract up for a vote

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates Decatur

‘Art’ contract up for a vote

Decatur City Hall.
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

This story has been updated. 

Decatur City Commissioners will take another look at awarding a $25,000 contract for facilitating a conversation about compassion and diversity.

Commissioners meet tonight and will consider awarding the contract to The Art of Community. The commission tabled it during its Sept. 2 meeting after commissioners Scott Drake and Fred Boykin raised some questions about it. Art of Community is a local company, but wasn’t selected through a request for proposal or bid process. Under city purchasing rules, it would be considered a professional service and not subject to the bidding rules.

The proposal before commissioners at tonight’s meeting provides a precise list of deliverables for Phase 1 of the project, something that was lacking at the Sept. 2 meeting.

Under the terms of the contract, Art of Community would be expected to:

• Establish a steering committee to act as a core leadership team.

–  Convene team to establish shared outcomes and design of large scale
community conversations process

• Create, organize and prepare the intentional dialogue process.

– Develop detailed project work plan

– Develop outreach and recruitment plans and begin identifying specific stakeholders and developing connections.

– Develop logistics plan including calendar and securing meeting facilities.

– Begin recruiting community facilitators.

– Develop communications and technology plan.

• Organize information and background materials.

– Research and collect relevant data.

– Gather subjective observations.

– Begin development of discussion guide.

• Develop Phase II draft budget and pursue outside source funding.

At the last meeting, commissioners learned that the total cost of the project could rise to $100,000, with the inclusion of grants, donations and in-kind services.

Allegations of racial profiling by city police officers drove the idea of a community-wide discussion. The $25,000 was initially put into the budget as a “placeholder” that would pay for whatever solution the city staff ultimately came up with.

The racial profiling allegations also led to the creation of the Decatur Community Coalition, a civic group working with the city to address those concerns. Don Denard, a former Decatur School Board member who claims he was profiled by police, has been the chief spokesman for the group. Denard said that the city didn’t run the idea of hiring The Art of Community by him or the Coalition before presenting it to City Commissioners.

Also, every regular meeting agenda includes a section for requests and petitions. Decaturish has learned that a representative of the property owners around Rio Circle and surrounding areas intends to make a presentation to commissioners at tonight’s meeting. While those property owners are in Avondale’s annexation plan, they have started a petition to join Decatur.

Proponents of the proposed city of Briarcliff have also approached Rio Circle residents about joining the new city instead of joining Decatur or Avondale. Representatives from that cityhood movement met with some of the Rio Circle representatives at the recent Avondale Estates work session on annexation.

Allen Venet, President of the city of Briarcliff Initiative, said he did not attend the meeting in Avondle, but said secretary Herman Lorenz attended it.

“Since I was not there I don’t know what may have been discussed, but Briarcliff is not trying to get them to join us,” Venet said. “Rather, we are sharing information with them and listening to their thoughts.”

DeKalb Farmers Market owner Robert Blazer recently announced he has no interest in joining Avondale or Decatur. He’d rather stay in unincorporated DeKalb, but if he has to chose he wants to be part of a larger city, like the proposed city of Briarcliff.