Dear Decaturish – Downtown Decatur Neighbors seeks input from residentsA lone pedestrian makes his way down Church Street in Downtown Decatur on Saturday, March 21, 2019.
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Formed in November 2014 by recently elected Decatur City Commissioner George Dusenbury and Super District 6 Dekalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon, the Downtown Decatur Neighbors seeks to serve as a bridge between Decatur residents and the government in charge of our tax dollars. By enlisting the help of residents to enhance the Decatur experience, current president Pete Pfeiffer and DDN board members hope citizens will share their input on how the city can best implement ideas that continue to give Decatur its charm and make it such a desirable place to live, work and play.
Whether you’re a full-time resident who plans to age in place, here until your kids are out of school, or just passing through for a few months, weeks or years, investing an hour or two every few months to help direct the future of Decatur may be worth your while. And you’re actually invested whether you know it or not. You use the same roads, visit the same restaurants and shops and share the same city services. By contributing some of your past experiences, along with expressing what you need and want to get out of city living, you can help shape the future of Decatur. You could even discover something in how Decatur serves its residents that you can take with you the next place you go.
One of the DDN’s primary goals since its inception has been to work with the City of Decatur to develop a Downtown Master Plan. Resident input is a crucial part of the process as it helps the city decide where to allocate funds in order to enhance the community with amenities like new parks and plazas, better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, as well as funding for services like police, fire and the school system. It also helps the community engage with local businesses. And who doesn’t benefit from the output that can come from sharing common goals?
As Decatur (a city of over 26,000 residents) continues to see unprecedented population growth and more condo and apartment development, residents will continue to be impacted by things such as taxes, affordable housing, safety, public amenities, parking, a tree ordinance, streetscape and sidewalk improvements, and finding and protecting green space.
Working together has had some tremendous benefits for the population. Some of the initiatives residents have tackled through the power of strength in numbers include: stopping development of townhomes on Church Street, input on bike lanes, transportation, scooters, sidewalks (maintenance), solar power, environment, public safety and traffic alleviation. The more people that come out to express their thoughts, the more pressure on the City to consider their opinions.
The many meetings the DDN have hosted over the years have included a discussion of the budget from the City Manager, a local scooter ordinance, a presentation on the new voting machines, the significance of strengthening our tree ordinance, as well as representation from local businesses discussing their products and services (how can you go wrong with 10 percent off at your favorite local boutique?).
The DDN’s most newly minted board member says, “Being new to Decatur and to downtown living, DDN meetings helped me get my bearings. I was introduced to some of the nearby stores and restaurants by the owners coming to share with us at the meetings. I heard city officials and employees inform me about issues and happenings affecting me. There was an opportunity to join committees to meet people interested in Decatur. I would encourage anyone to come to the meetings or at least check in with the website!”
Another longtime board member is proud of the work the DDN has done, most notably conducting a survey to get the City to install cross walks at high risk locations, as well as increasing crossing times at a location involving a pedestrian fatality while the person was legally crossing the street. He also says, “We continue to press for increasing sidewalk repair projects. We are always alert for any potential sites for a downtown park or green space in the dwindling prospects due to recent construction in Decatur. We have recommended that a specific downtown plan be developed and included in the final 2030 plan. This will be the last chance for downtown and all Decatur residents to have a say in what our future will look like over the next decade.”
The DDN welcomes and encourages anyone who lives, works or frequently spends time in Decatur to get involved by attending meetings, as well as consider becoming a volunteer on one of the various committees.
Your participation could be the difference between getting the sidewalks on Commerce repaired or a sprained ankle.
For more information, or to join this wonderful organization, check out the Downtown Decatur Neighbor’s website at: https://downtowndecaturneighbors.com.
We look forward to meeting you!
– Lisa Schrieber
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