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City Commission approves Legacy Park agreement, CARES Act funding for Dekalb cities


City Commission approves Legacy Park agreement, CARES Act funding for Dekalb cities

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Decatur City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.


Decatur, GA — Commissioners discussed One Million Trees Atlanta, the operational management agreement for Legacy Park, a face mask ordinance, CARES act funding, and more in their Monday night meeting.

The meeting began with a presentation by Joy Pope, Interim Executive Director of the Decatur Book Festival, on their virtual plans for the festival this September.

A variety of free, online programming on Crowdcast will take place each day throughout the month of September. While the festival usually occurs over Labor Day weekend, Pope said that the month-long programming would take “the shape of the festival.” In the virtual space, events don’t overlap as they do during one weekend, so attendees have the opportunity to explore more events. 

Kay Evanovich, Landscape Infrastructure Coordinator for the City of Decatur, presented a proposal for the City of Decatur to enter into a partnership with Trees Atlanta for the One Million Trees program, which aims to have 10 metro Atlanta cities plant and save a total of one million trees over the course of ten years. The 10 local nonprofits that are involved in the program are Atlanta Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Georgia Conservancy, The Conservation Fund, Atlanta Botanical Garden, WABE, The Trust for Public Land, Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.

During the discussion of the Legacy Park operational management agreement, Commissioner George Dusenbury again raised concerns about the master plan.

“I see the need for a nonprofit to help us manage this property, but I’ve got some fundamental underlying concerns with the direction that we are giving that nonprofit and asking them to manage this property for us,” said Dusenbury. He wasn’t in favor of the repurposing of buildings on the site.

Mayor Patti Garrett said the master plan looks at historical preservation and the sustainability impacts of reusing existing buildings, and that the space would be “community-use.”

Commissioner Lesa Mayer also raised concerns about whether the master plan fits the needs of the community during and after the current pandemic, given that the plan was developed in 2018. 

“It’s my understanding that projects that would move forward to be part of a budget planning process,” said Mayor Garrett. “The Legacy Board would bring forward plans for what comes next.”

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers says he recognizes that the planning process will take time and that he doesn’t necessarily expect to “see heavy equipment there during [his] time on the city commission.”

“Maybe there’s a different path 10 or 15 years down the road,” said Powers.

Commissioner Kelly Walsh said she believes the plan is adaptable and that it is respectful to the community that surrounds the park.

The operational agreement was approved unanimously. 

The commission passed a bond resolution “approving the forms of the agreement of sale and first amendment to agreement of sale relating to issuance of refunding revenue bonds by the Urban Redevelopment Agency of the City of Decatur.” Doug Gebhardt of Davenport & Company LLC, Terri Finister, bond attorney, and City of Decatur finance director Russ Madison assisted in the resolution.

The city commission intends to refinance some of its debt.

City Manager Andrea Arnold said, “We are looking at refinancing two different bond issuances; the 2010A bonds that financed Fire Station No. 1, the Decatur recreation center and the public works building and the 2013A/B bonds that financed the Beacon municipal project, including the school administration building.”

The amount of debt being refinanced is around $33 million, she said.

“The bond resolution allows us to move forward with the bond sale within certain parameters to ensure that there will be a savings to the city,” she said. “At this point, the savings will be more than 3% of the net present value of the amount being refinanced.”

Decatur’s face covering ordinance, which requires the use of masks within Decatur establishments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, was extended until September 21, 2020.

The city commission said they would be reviewing the Governor’s recent executive order on mask mandates in relation to the city ordinance.

Commissioners approved a resolution to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Dekalb County for a portion of funding from the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).

Near the end of April, Dekalb County received over $125 million directly from the federal government, said city manager Andrea Arnold.

The agreement allows $32.6 million to be distributed to each city in Dekalb County, based on census data.

During the public comments section, Lynn Gathercole, expressed concerns about the affordable housing plans for Legacy Park, highlighting that the housing should be affordable for the residents of the area and “not just affordable housing on the property.”

She hopes the plans are made with the “city’s best interest at heart” and not just “Legacy Park and what’s going on there.”

At the end of the meeting, Mayor Garrett again highlighted the importance of Decatur residents filling out the 2020 census.

Commissioner Mayer gave an update on the Black Lives Matter street mural project, that will occur this Saturday, August 22. About 510 volunteers have signed up for individual shifts on the project, and it will take place in accordance with social distancing recommendations. The city is also planning for potential rescheduling in case of rain.

Mayer also thanked teachers, administrators, members of the school board, and school staff for helping the virtual first day of school go as smoothly as possible on Monday.

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