Tucker work session meeting includes discussion about the city’s future
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
Tucker, GA — The two-hour Tucker City Commission work session on Oct. 26, followed by a regular City Council meeting, covered a lot of ground about the future of Tucker.
Council heard presentations on the Tucker Summit Community Improvement District’s plan for mobility improvement on the Mountain Industrial Boulevard corridor, stretching from Jimmy Carter Boulevard at Lawrenceville Highway to Mountain Industrial Boulevard at East Ponce de Leon Avenue.
The cost will be split between Tucker Summit CID, city of Tucker, and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The CID’s goal is to begin projects in 2021 or 2022.
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Ideas included both short- and long-term projects, including road improvements like wider turn radii and longer turn lanes; and pedestrian safety like flashing beacons at crosswalks and access to public transit. After a revision by Tucker Summit CID, council will approve the plan at a later date.
Tucker is in the early stages of creating a pedestrian-friendly downtown with green space, public art, retail shops, and restaurants. Matthew Lee, executive director of Tucker Northlake Community Improvement District, presented an update on the downtown alley project.
Lee said there are plots, now privately owned, that need to be obtained by Tucker for the alleyway project, which is on a five to 10-year time scale.
“There’s key pieces to purchase or to have given to you, however you can get it. Right now, a developer could come in and submit an application to staff and say, ‘I’m going to build this,’ and they can build right on top of what might be a critical link that is privately owned currently,” said Lee, emphasizing a cohesive plan with business owners is crucial.
Downtown Tucker is already undergoing a streetscape project to improve lighting and landscaping.
City Engineer Ken Hildebrandt revisited I-285 Major Mobility Investment Program by Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plans to enhance bridges at Henderson Road, Northlake Parkway, and LaVista Road. When Georgia Department of Transportation widens these bridges as part of a I-285 express lane project, Tucker will have the opportunity to make improvements to lighting, fencing, and branding. The project is set to begin in three to five years.
Councilmember Michelle Penkava delivered an update on conversations with DeKalb County over roads and sidewalks. Council previously considered a referendum to takeover public works from the county, which would result in a tax increase for Tucker residents.
Penkava requested an accounting of services provided by DeKalb County, and its cost. She said in a line by line look at the current Intergovernmental Agreement shows “they’re not doing [things] as well as they should be.”
A new IGA is under review by DeKalb County attorneys, and will continue to be negotiated between Tucker and the county. Penkava said she wants to give DeKalb County an opportunity to nurture the relationship, and “see if we can’t have enough of an improved service at the same rate that our citizens are paying now that we can all be more than satisfied.”
“The timing of COVID, our uncertainty with our own budget, the inability to sit down and talk with our constituents and the ask that comes at the end of that for a higher tax rate possibly … for a better service, it’s just an unfortunate time,” she said, pushing to delay a referendum on public works.
In other news:
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– Tucker’s financial report for September shows revenues were down 20 percent from the previous year, and 10 percent below expectations. Expenditures are 9 percent over expectations, which may even out after the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding kicks in for unexpected spending by the city — purchases related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Council members voted unanimously for Parks and Recreation Department to apply for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant in the amount of $500,000. If awarded, the city will match the grant monies to improve Fitzgerald Field, home to the Tucker Football league.
– Parks and Recreation presented a new plan to replace signage at Henderson Park, Johns Homestead, Kelley Cofer Park, Montreal Park, Smoke Rise Park, Tucker Nature Preserve, Tucker Recreation Center, and William McKinley Peters Park.
– Mayor Frank Auman presented the annual Mayor’s Business Award to FODAC, Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, for 34 years of matching medical equipment with those in need, both nationally and internationally.
– Councilmember Matt Robbins reminded residents to vote in the Nov. 3 elections. Early voting ends Oct. 30 at Reid H. Cofer Library, but absentee ballot boxes at Tucker Town Hall and Cofer are open until Election Day, Nov. 3. If voters miss the opportunity to cast a ballot at early voting, they will have to visit their assigned polling place.
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