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Decatur City Commission approves funding request for Decatur Land Trust

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Decatur City Commission approves funding request for Decatur Land Trust

Decatur City Hall. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission, at its Nov. 6 regular meeting, approved $152,395 for the city’s land trust to build its organizational capacity, and $75,000 for a down payment assistance program.

The city commission approved the request for $152,395 with a vote of 4-1 with Commissioner George Dusenbury casting the opposing vote. The commission approved the funding request for the down payment assistance program unanimously.

The land trust is a nonprofit tasked with addressing Decatur’s loss of affordable homes. The land trust buys or accepts land, sells it to a new owner but keeps it in a land trust to ensure it is “permanently affordable,” according to the land trust’s website.

Decatur Land Trust Board of Directors Chair Linda Curry said that the DLT is at a critical crossroads and is in need of an executive director who would be involved in all aspects of the DLT’s business.

“To succeed, the organization needs full-time DLT staff support, including a full-time Executive Director to provide the resources needed to accomplish the work ahead, including the projects that are already underway, the Oak Cottage Court and Park 108 developments and the Decatur Home ReHAB program,” Curry said. “In addition, the organization needs funds to contract with a grant advisor for fundraising and grant prospecting, with a goal to raise additional funds to continue and grow the DLT’s business.”

The DLT is hoping to become an independent agency, but it will take some time, Curry said during the meeting.

The commission discussed a funding request of a total $377,395 for the Decatur Land Trust to be allocated over a three-year period. Here is a breakdown of the funding request:

Photo courtesy of the city of Decatur.

The city commission did not approve funding for fiscal years 2024-2025 or 2025-2026 but approved a motion to discuss additional funding for the land trust during future budget cycles.

In other business:

– The city commission approved a few agenda items related to the South Housing Village at Legacy Park, including an intergovernmental infrastructure funding and development agreement and a ground lease with the Decatur Housing Authority.

The city commission also approved two amendments to the intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Decatur Housing Authority. The city entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the DHA on Nov. 15, 2021, and DHA is serving as the developer of the South Housing Village project that will include 132 affordable multifamily units.

Approval of these items was needed prior to the DHA closing on the financing for phase one of the project, City Manager Andrea Arnold said.

“Under the terms of the intergovernmental agreement, the city must enter into a ground lease with the DHA and/or one of its affiliates for the project area as well as enter into an infrastructure agreement, that among other terms, identifies the responsible parties for construction and financing of certain infrastructure improvements, as well as specifies which improvements will be conveyed to the city upon completion of the project,” Arnold wrote in a memo.

– The city commission also approved contracts for the design and construction of improvements to Ebster Field.

The commission approved a design and pre-construction budget of $140,000 for Ebster Field Improvements, an agreement for design-build services in the amount of $50,580 to Precision Turf LLC, and an agreement for program management services in the amount of $73,540 to AJB Construction Group.

“This will provide for design and other pre-construction services for the project, which includes conversion of Ebster Field from a natural to synthetic turf surface and installation of new LED athletic field lighting,” Capital Projects Manager Hugh Saxon wrote in a memo. “A project budget of $1.75 million has been approved in the FY 2023-24 City budget. The design-build method employs a combined contractor-designer team for a project delivery approach that should help shorten the construction schedule and provide better control over budget.”

If the design and pre-construction activities are successfully completed, the city commission will be asked to approve the final construction budget and an amendment to the design-build agreement for construction at a later time.

– The city commission approved a memorandum of understanding with Frontline Response International, Inc. in the amount of $174,082 to continue a cold weather warming center. The current MOU with Frontline expires on Nov. 30. The new MOU will start on Dec. 1 and be in place for one year.

“As winter approaches, there is a need to partner again for a second year with Frontline Response to provide relief to the unhoused population from extreme cold weather events,” Business Development Manager Shirley Baylis wrote in a memo. “Under the terms of the MOU, Frontline Response will offer transportation from Decatur Recreation Center to its warming center, which is located at its headquarters on Gresham Road.”

The warming center will provide a meal and bed for the evening. Frontline Response staff and security will also be onsite while unhoused individuals are at the center. They would also be able to meet with a caseworker to start the process for placement in long-term housing or be reconnected with family.

– The city commission approved an alcoholic beverage license for the retail sale for consumption on premises of beer, wine and spirituous liquors and a corking license for Chando’s Tacos, located at 254 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue.

– City Manager Andrea Arnold announced that Cara Scharer has been hired to serve as the assistant city manager for public works. She previously served as the city’s senior engineer and began her new role on Nov. 6.

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