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Tucker acquires swim club in special called meeting

Business COVID-19 Tucker

Tucker acquires swim club in special called meeting

Tucker's City Hall. Photo provided by the city of Tucker
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This story has been updated. 

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

Tucker, GA –  Tucker’s acquisition of Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club is a done deal, due to a special meeting called by the mayor on April 20 – one week prior to the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

The meeting agenda included an amendment to the city’s alcohol ordinance; the city’s purchasing policy related to state and federal funding; and the Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

A spokesperson for Tucker said the meeting “was designed to give council a chance to see the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2021 and ask questions of [Toni Jo Howard] our Finance Director. The Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club was placed on the agenda because of the impending swim season and the need to get moving on the necessary staffing.”

Rip Robertson, Tucker’s Parks and Recreation director, submitted a memo to City Council on April 9: “The Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club has had issues with sustaining consistent board members, volunteer workforce, and sufficient funding for required maintenance and repairs over the past several years. As a result, the members have offered this property to the city for no cost and city pays all existing debt incurred for minor improvements and repairs and past-due water/sewer, electric (totaling less than $20,000).”

In recent years, Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet was run by a board of Smoke Rise neighbors. The 4-acre property was established in 1965.

At the April 13 regularly scheduled City Council meeting, council members voted to defer discussion about a takeover of Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club. Mayor Frank Auman led the discussion, but council members struggled to find clarity in fee structure. Councilmember Matt Robbins said, “I would like to put this on hold for Rip to talk to them one more time.”

Lerner made a motion at the April 13 meeting to defer the item.

Tucker Parks and Recreation submitted an edited memo on April 17 “with standardizing admission and membership pricing between this facility and Kelley Cofer Park pool, as well as giving more control to the city over opening the pool to all county residents vs. just city residents,” according to a spokesperson.

Tucker will incur the club’s debt, $9,295.85 owed to Sweetwater Pool Management. The edited memo states, “The impact for the FY [fiscal year] 2020 budget would be $18,601.40. In addition to the operating cost, the city agrees to pay debt and services of not more than $20,000. The initial improvements will come from the CIP fund. We will make additional requests for the upcoming FY 2021 for the full contracted costs of $34,482.”

The current board will become a Friends of Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet group. Tucker plans to operate the pools at Kelly Cofer Park and Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club under the same fee structure, policies, and procedures.

At the April 20 meeting, City Council passed the edited agreement with a 6-1 vote. Councilmember Anne Lerner voted against the acquisition.

Lerner said in a statement, “I think it is irresponsible to take on a second pool within the city of Tucker especially during such a time of economic uncertainty due to COVID-19. I did not hear a compelling reason from council, staff or the community to add another pool to our parks system. Pools are luxuries, not necessities, and there is much more work to be done to enhance our current parks.”

Tucker’s City Council meeting on April 27 included awarding a contract to TriScapes Inc. to improve eight intersections in the city; a first read of an ordinance to amend city code on lodging; and the appointment of new members to Downtown Development Authority, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Planning Commission.

The city will improve intersections at Chamblee Tucker Road at Fellowship Road; Lewis Road at Litton Drive; E. Ponce de Leon Ave. at Litton Drive; Idlewood Road at Sarr Parkway; Tucker Industrial Blvd. at Elmdale Drive; Fellowship Road at Elmdale Drive; Tucker Industrial Blvd. at Bibb Blvd.; and Mountain Industrial Blvd. at Elmdale Drive.

City Attorney Brian Anderson presented a first read of an ordinance to change Tucker City Code on hotels, motels, and extended stay lodging. The updated code gives owners the right to ask guests for government-issued identification, which is standard but not required by law. It also allows hotel owners to refuse police entry without proper documentation.

Auman announced that Downtown Development Authority is reinstating Damyon Claar-Pressley and adding Brian Chambers. Zoning Board of Appeals is adding Jason Burton. The Planning Commission reinstated Steve Smith, and welcomed new members Cara Schroeder and Seth Burrow.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the councilmember who made the motion to defer discussion about a takeover of the Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club. This story has been updated with the correct information. 

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