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Avondale Estates City Commission considering July 4th festivities

Avondale Estates COVID-19 Trending

Avondale Estates City Commission considering July 4th festivities

Oscar Najarro waves his American flag. File Photo by Travis Hudgons

By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, Ga. — Fourth of July festivities may be returning to Avondale Estates in some form this year. The City Commission discussed options for a parade during the work session on Wednesday, April 28.

The city is planning to do a fireworks show this year and has already approved the purchase of the fireworks. But the parade is under consideration.

As the CDC has relaxed outdoor mask guidelines and as more people are getting vaccinated, City Manager Patrick Bryant thought it would be appropriate to discuss the holiday festivities.

“The fireworks are a diff type of event than our Fourth of July parade,” Mayor Jonathan Elmore said. “The fireworks are more a passive event where people just sort of show up and they spread out.”

But the parade is different as people bunch up, kids run around and candy is being thrown, he added.

“That’s a little more risky event,” Elmore said. “The suggestion has been from the community that we do a reverse parade, which was done by some community members without any city support or whatever on Halloween, but it did appear to be successful.”

A reverse parade would be where residents stay in their driveways while the parade comes around to them.

“Most of the people that participated in the Halloween event want to participate in this and make it a big thing and I agree,” Elmore said. “I think we need something.”

He suggested that the city help provide police assistance for traffic control and advertise the event, which Bryant said city staff is open to doing.

The city is also planning to sell signs and shirts for the event as in years past, Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell said.

The City Commission did not discuss COVID safety measures at this time and plans to do so as it gets closer to the Fourth of July.

“We are going to continue to monitor guidance from the CDC,” Bryant said. “We expect them to probably even release guidance for fireworks shows perhaps so we will adjust accordingly based on the guidance in effect at the time.”

— In other business, the City Commission also discussed Christmas decorations and the possibility of lighting a different tree this year rather than the holly tree at the corner of South Avondale Road and Clarendon Avenue.

A couple of issues have come to light regarding the holly tree, Assistant City Manager Paul Hanebuth said.

“The electrical conduits that are necessary for lighting the holly tree are affixed to the tree with cables and ropes and that kind of thing,” Hanebuth said. “It’s strangling at least one of the big branches and will eventually girdle the tree possibly fatally or at least causing serious damage.”

The city also needs to consider another solution for the pole that runs up the trunk of the tree to which the star is mounted. City staff has estimated $4,600 to install an electric pole beside the tree without attaching it to the tree.

The other issue is that a branch extends over the street, which has caused lights to get snagged on passing trucks. At this point, the city would have to do some heavy pruning to the tree and cut off that overreaching branch, Hanebuth said.

Another option is to look at designating a different tree as the Christmas tree.

The consensus of the City Commission seemed to be in favor of selecting another tree to serve as the Christmas tree as the holly tree has outgrown its space. But no final decision was made on Wednesday night.

“It’s my understanding that the, I think it’s a deodar cedar that’s planted over at that lot across from the holly tree, that the intent was to let it grow a little bit and for it to become a replacement tree,” Commissioner Dee Merriam said. “I think it’s big enough now to start serving that purpose.”

— Avondale Estates is expected to receive $1.9 million from the federal surface transportation reauthorization legislation in September.

“The congressional appropriations or earmarks available through omnibus spending bills has been resurrected,” Bryant said. “The way that program works is that municipalities within a congressional district can petition their congressman to put forward a project for direct federal funding through a specific funding bill that would go to serve that community.”

Rep. Hank Johnson’s office put out a call for projects and has selected a continuation of Avondale’s U.S. 278 complete streets project to move forward in the committee process.

This part of the U.S. 278 complete street project is to redesign the traffic signals, which was tied to a project led by the state Department of Transportation.

“The signal project got way behind so it’s on a different schedule from us now,” Powell said. “So, what we’ve done is we’ve taken the five signals out of the DOT project and put them into our project so we now control the entire corridor and all of the plans.”

The $1.9 million in federal funding would allow the city to build new lights, handle all of that project and pick up some additional costs it is anticipating.

“In order to use that $1.9 million on schedule, if we were to receive, we would need to move forward with some additional design,” Bryant said.

The design work would cost $80,000 and would be offset by the potential federal funding.

The City Commission will meet next on Wednesday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Mayor Jonathan Elmore will also give the State of the City address on Wednesday, May 5, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

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