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Decatur City Commission approves memorandum of understanding for warming center

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Decatur City Commission approves memorandum of understanding for warming center

Commissioners listen to public comments during the Decatur City Commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Oct. 17 meeting, approved a memorandum of understanding with Frontline Response International to operate a warming center on Gresham Road.

The MOU will be in place from Nov. 1, 2022 to Nov. 30, 2023. The commission also approved a budget of $145,015 for the warming center.

Frontline will serve as a cold weather warming center beginning on Dec. 1 for unhoused individuals in the city and will provide bedding, food, and restrooms for up to 10 men and 10 women and/or children needing shelter when the temperature drops to 38 degrees or below, according to the MOU.

“The city currently partners with Frontline to provide outreach and placement services to the unhoused population within the city. As winter approaches the city desires to partner with frontline to provide relief to the unhoused population from extreme cold weather,” said Shirley Baylis, downtown program manager.

Frontline’s facility is located at 2585 Gresham Road in Atlanta, and the agency will provide transportation to the shelter.

“At the warming center, individuals will be provided a meal and a bed for the evening,” Baylis said. “Frontline staff and security will be on site 24 hours while the unhoused individuals are on the premises. In the morning, the unhoused individuals will have the opportunity to meet with a caseworker for placement into long-term housing or to be reunited with their families.”

The MOU is a non-budgeted item and City Manager Andrea Arnold recommended the city use the general fund, fund balance to cover the cost. Since the agreement is for one year, the city will be able to determine whether it would like to continue working with Frontline during the next budget process.

– In other business, the board awarded a contract to T&J Industries for $277,905 and approved a project budget of $305,000 for maintenance of the Ebster stormwater vault.

“The Ebster Vault has been in service since 2014 and has never been cleaned,” said Cara Scharer, senior engineer for the city. “We are planning to convert Ebster Field, which is directly on top of the vault, from a natural to a synthetic turf surface with lighting, and it is timely to perform the first maintenance prior to construction of the field improvements.”

“The work includes removal and disposal of sediment, gravel and other debris that has accumulated in the vault’s wet well and main runoff corridor, and providing documentation of materials removed. Such materials will be removed as is reasonably feasible,” she added.

The work will occur during standard work hours, and there will be a partial closure of parking along Electric Avenue. Fencing will be placed around the work area for safety. The work is anticipated to take three to four weeks and Ebster Field will remain open during the work, Scharer said.

– The city commission also approved substituting gender-neutral pronouns in the city’s charter and code of ordinances.

The city contracted with Municode in March 2021 to review Decatur’s code of ordinances for use of gendered language, which was found in the city’s charter, the general code sections and the unified development ordinance. There were 20 sections in the charter that had some gendered language, City Clerk Meredith Roark previously said.

“An example of gendered language would be taking in charter [section] 3.10, the city commissioners, right now, shall be elected by receiving a plurality of votes cast in an election district in which he or she qualified, and we are looking to change that to something such as just city commissioner, instead of using he or she,” Roark said.

She added that the changes seek to modify all masculine and feminine language to gender-neutral language.

– The city commission additionally approved the final change order for the Legacy Park dairy barn improvements. The change order increased the contract amount from about $157,332 to about $180,332, and increased the project budget from $175,000 to $200,000.

The change order is for painting, staining and masonry repairs of the barn.

“With all the construction that we’ve done, there’s a lot of new wood and old wood there, so we want to actually preserve that lumber and make everything match up, just make it look really nice. It will have a weathered look, so it’ll be uniform once we go ahead. There are also cracks in the masonry, and they’ll repair,” Felix Floyd said. “That’ll eliminate any leaks in the masonry.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the warming center would be in the city of Decatur. The story has been updated with the correct information. 

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