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Pickleball proponents pack Tucker City Council meeting

Clarkston Trending Tucker

Pickleball proponents pack Tucker City Council meeting

Tom Trippany competes in the Tucker Parks & Recreation 2021 Winter Pickleball Championship Advanced finals on Feb. 2, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Tucker, GA — A large and enthusiastic group came to speak during public comment at the Tucker City Council meeting March 13, many in favor of building a proposed new pickleball facility.

In addition to pickleball, the council discussed paving roads, fire safety, a housing study, funding the new Public Works department, 

Students from the Tucker First United Methodist Preschool opened the meeting by leading the pledge of allegiance, to audible awws.

State Representative Billy Mitchell spoke to the meeting as well, after praising Tucker as a model of how a city government should work. He encouraged those in attendance to get involved with the legislative process as the session approaches its close, March 29.

“Those who are engaged and involved get better government than those who are not,” said Mitchell.

Public comment was dominated by pickleball partisans.  

Matt Robbins expressed support for what he called the “very hot pickleball opportunities in the Atlanta area.”

David Mills said he was part of a group of citizens who wrote a twelve-page report describing the positive impact of pickleball on a community. Mills believes that a facility will engage families and young people, and bring in revenue to the city from tournaments. Quoting “Field of Dreams,” he said, “Build it, they will come.”

The council ultimately approved a $77,000 contract with Root Design Studios to design a plan for parking space and additional courts, including for pickleball, behind the existing Recreation Center. Runoff mitigation will be a necessary part of the design as well.

Parks and Recreation Director Rip Roberston said that as well as there being community enthusiasm for pickleball, other programs that are ongoing at the Recreation Center need parking.

“As important as pickleball is, the parking is equally important,” said Robertson. 

Also during public comment, Steve Hagen spoke about the need for a non-discrimination ordinance (NDO) to protect employees of businesses under fifteen employees, the threshold under which Federal protections do not apply.  Tucker passed a resolution in favor of inclusion rather than an ordinance in October 2021, and heard a report from the city’s NDO working group in September 2022, but has yet to pass an ordinance. Hagen said that peer cities like Clarkston were able to pass an ordinance in a matter of a few weeks, and questioned why Tucker hasn’t moved more quickly. 

Other public comments focused on roads. 

Tina Bruni would like to see a new bicycle lane on LaVista Road, saying that there used to be one and that the route is important to get back and forth from Main Street in Tucker to Stone Mountain Park.

Lee Southall spoke about construction projects creating mud slides on Mountain Shadow Trail.

In other business:

— The city council approved a contract for engineering design of a sidewalk along East Ponce de Leon Ave. for $91,885 to Keck and Wood. The city also approved a contract with Allied Paving Contractors, Inc. in the amount of $3,281,521.65 to resurface 20 roads throughout Tucker.

City Engineer Ken Hildebrant said that the plan was to just go down the list of roads based on condition from worst to best, while also considering the amount of traffic each road carries.

In the second movie reference of the evening, Hildebrandt said, “I love the smell of asphalt in the morning.” 

— Finance Director Beverly Hilton asked for a budget amendment to fund expenses related to the city’s new Public Works department before stormwater fees and property taxes are collected in the fall. 

“I’m pleased to say that it’s been eight months into the fiscal year before I’ve had to come to you asking for more money,” Hilton said. 

Hilton went on to say that fees and taxes will fully fund the department, but last year’s fees went to the county and some projects that the council has already approved will need funding during the transition period. “

We’ve had some pretty big things happen,” said Hilton.  The budget amendment was approved 7-0.

— The city awarded a contract for a housing study to KB Advisory Group, which is also in the process of creating an economic development plan for Tucker.

Tucker Community Development Director Courtney Smith said that housing was an important component of the plan, in order to ensure that there is sufficient housing for the workforce that Tucker hopes to attract. 

Smith added that part of the study will examine existing housing for quality and livability.

— The council appointed Charles DeWitt as a member of the Tucker Downtown Development Authority, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former chair Damyon Claar-Pressley.

— The council also reappointed Jason Burton, Bob Espy, and Neal Stubblefield for 2-year terms to the Tucker Zoning Board of Appeals, and reappointed Terry Grandison and Josh Wallace as members of the Tucker Public Facilities Authority.

— The council approved an ordinance to raise the standard of fire sprinkler systems in Tucker’s building code. City staff recommended the change after the state passed a law forbidding cities to exclude the use of wood in building codes.  

— The council also voted to renew a contract with Private Probation Services to manage probation for the city’s municipal court. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of a name. This story has been updated. 

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