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Avondale Estates City Commission approves funding for Placita Latina festival

Avondale Estates

Avondale Estates City Commission approves funding for Placita Latina festival

The Avondale Estates City Commission met on Wednesday, Aug. 11, to discuss the Placita Latina 2021 festival and the North Woods project. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its Aug. 11 meeting, approved a funding request from the Welcoming Avondale committee for Placita Latina 2021, a celebration of Latin heritage that has four events planned over one month.

The Avondale Estates Downtown Development Authority has approved $3,000. Welcoming Avondale was seeking an additional $5,000 from the city. The City Commission approved the request for up to $5,000 with the stipulation that the organizers and the Welcoming Avondale committee would look at ways to cut some costs.

The event was created by former Avondale Estates Commissioner Adela Yelton and Mayte “Maria” Peck, president of SheLends Consulting and principal managing partner at Mark of the Potter. The planning committee is also made up of several Hispanic residents of Decatur and Avondale. The concept was born out of the idea, need and realization of celebrating Latinx culture, Yelton said.

“I don’t know if you know this about me personally, but I do identify as Latina. I’ve really come to embrace that part of my identity later in life, and I found that there are others in Avondale and Decatur that feel the same way,” Yelton said. “So the idea of bringing the culture here to where we are, and sharing that with our neighbors, was really the impetus for Placita Latina.”

The festival will be a series of events during Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to create awareness while promoting a positive narrative of Latinx people and their contributions to society. The events will engage and promote local businesses in the celebration of Hispanic/Latinx culture, according to the agenda packet.

Events include a coffee tasting event with live music in partnership with Banjo Coffee in Avondale Estates. Another event is maker market with music and performances at the Lost Druid.

Events in Decatur would feature salsa on the Square and an emerging Latinx artist showcase, in partnership with the Decatur Arts Alliance.

The organizers are also talking to some other local businesses in Avondale and Decatur to set up additional events.

“Since then, we’ve engaged Wild Heaven with the idea of a salsa lesson and DJ on their patio, which is like the perfect location for that,” Yelton said. “The second is Purple Corkscrew, and that’s Steffini, who’s offering her space as a place for Latin American wine tasting and featuring Mexican-American vendors, which plug in nicely to participate in the theme of celebration and culture.”

Placita Latina organizers are working with the Welcoming Avondale committee. The committee was charged with hosting an event this year and the group aims to foster “welcoming environment for all individuals– regardless of race, ethnicity or place of origin– enhances the City of Avondale Estates’ cultural fabric, economic growth, and overall prosperity for current and future generations,” Decaturish previously reported.

“I’m very passionate about wanting Avondale to be a welcoming community and a community that welcomes diverse populations in residents as well as people coming into the community,” Welcoming Avondale Chair Connie Bryans said. “This is a way to bring the people in the community and for people to cross the hedges and come over and meet people.”

— In other business, during the work session, the City Commission will discuss the North Woods project and options for moving the project toward construction.

The North Woods is an area by Lake Avondale is planned to get some much-needed improvements. The project dates back to 2008 when the city created the Lake Avondale Master Plan. The plan includes a North Woods rain garden concept plan to mitigate erosion.

The project aims to build on the master plan, take a green infrastructure approach and create an outdoor recreation area with accessible trails.

“This is an area, a wooded area near the lake and the Community Club,” Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell said during a project presentation in March. “It has the potential to be an amazing pathway and recreational area, but due to rainwater and stormwater runoff [it] has very hazardous conditions right now that are jeopardizing some of the trees within the area.”

The city is working with Long Engineering and Lord Aeck Sargent on the schematic design process and understanding how to capture and treat rainwater. The consultants have developed their plan and construction drawings.

The city has received a $100,000 grant and has allocated $300,000 to cover the cost of construction and design. In order to develop a project that would be close to budget, city staff had to scale the project back and break up the larger concept into subsets, Powell said at the Aug. 11 meeting.

“We are way down the road in terms of having to tools we need to go out to bid on this project,” Powell said at the Aug. 11 meeting. “However, this is all done in a period in which prices are escalating, so it was already a project that we knew going in was pushing the limit in terms of cost. Then the estimated construction cost of this project came in at close to $1 million.”

The design team broke the project down into the base bid and three alternates. The base bid includes building a portion of a path that is ADA compliant. It also includes grading, preparation for the rain garden site, stream bank slope repair, signage and a bench.

“We concluded that we could do that much work and meet our grant obligations and stay within the amount of money that had been budgeted either by the grant or by the [City Commission],” Powell said. “Then we broke that down and said you know what the next really, really, really important part of this project are the rain gardens.”

The first alternate includes three rain gardens, adds passive recreation space and mitigates erosion. The commissioners agreed to send the whole project out for bid and agreed that at least the base bid and the first alternate need to be completed.

The city is expecting to receive a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Division that would cover the cost of the base bid and the first alternate. The grant is awaiting Congressional approval.

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