Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As 2009 draws to a close, it is fitting to look back on some of the major initiatives and accomplishments that we, throughout District 6, have worked on together during a very difficult year. Seeing where we have been helps us appreciate what we have and sets a course for where we are going. While I have already started to work on the challenges and opportunities of this next year, there will be plenty of time in the coming months to discuss those with you and seek your help. For now please have a safe and happy holiday season.
2009 - Major Initiatives
There have been major initiatives from District 6 on your behalf that specifically address our quality of life, today and for the future.
THE DEKALB COUNTY GREEN COMMISSION
kicked off in May. As I met with you in your homes during my 2008 reelection campaign, you told me how important sustainability is to you and that you expected the County to lead by example. With the collaboration of our new CEO Burrell Ellis and 20 volunteers from across the county the Green Commission was born to create a sustainable DeKalb to ensure that we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their environmental, energy and economic needs.
One of our first goals was to showcase what the County is already doing to be good stewards of our resources for future generations. The May kick off exhibition at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center, one of three County buildings built to LEED certification, brought together County Departments and many local entities that embrace green products and practices. It certainly has not hurt the "cause" having our new President and First Lady embrace sustainability for the Country.
The second goal of the Green Commission was Certification as a Green Community. We sponsored the County application for the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) program. CEO Burrell Ellis and I were presented with the Green Communities designation in December. It is the only green certification program for local governments in the country and DeKalb is one of only three counties and six cities in Georgia to earn the designation.
The Green commission also provides workshops and forums for us to learn how we can make small changes in our day to day living, like the water conservation forum "Winning the Water War and having fun while saving $." See the green commission tab on my website for 50 Tips on How to Conserve Water
In 2010 watch for workshops on how to get involved in community gardening
, green product choices and improving energy efficiency.
The Board of Commissioners recently agreed to accept a $6.5 million federal stimulus grant to upgrade county buildings to be more energy efficient
and to follow the lead of major cities and universities by developing a Sustainability Plan
to identify next steps, measurable goals and cost savings priorities so your future tax dollars are spent in ways that save money over the long-run.
I sponsored the update of the Stream Buffer
ordinance to take important steps to safeguard our 75-foot stream buffer that was being compromised by Administrative variances that had no consistent process, public notice or criteria for decision making. All the information on protecting our 75-foot stream buffers is now in one section of the Code (14-44) so it is easy to find.There are new requirements for applying for a stream buffer variance that include posting notices on the property as well as notifying neighbors in writing. There are more narrow criteria for obtaining variances and new standards for review.
The confusion and changing interpretation of our alcohol ordinances
have been a concern throughout District 6. I sponsored an ordinance to allow for restaurants that are part of a mixed-use development to serve alcohol up to a 12:30 AM time limit. The ordinance includes minimum distances from churches, schools and new requirement for distance from single-family residences.
We could not muster the political will for a 12:30 AM closing time for bars so I was a key supporter of Commissioner Jeff Rader's (District 2) modification of the alcohol ordinance that created "late night establishments" so that if an establishment wants late night pouring hours it has to go through a special land use permit process so the community can weigh in to address the crime and noise issues that seemed to follow these establishments.
The Bouldercrest, Cedar Grove and Moreland Avenue Community Planning project kicked off in May. Working with District 5 Commissioner Lee May, I am continuing my commitment to bring the community into a process that helps them develop their vision for the future of the Bouldercrest corridor between I-285 and Cedar Grove Road and over to Moreland Avenue.
A stakeholders' group of residents, businesses and property owners was formed to guide the process and follow through toward implementation. Several planning workshops were held to solidify specific ideas for the future of three main areas; I-285 at Bouldercrest Rd., the Bouldercrest and Cedar Grove Road intersection and the Moreland Avenue Corridor. The recommendations were in a report presented to the public in November.
In 2010 we will begin to make the report a reality. The stakeholders will be asked to lead this long-term commitment toward implementation. If you are interested, please step up and let my office know.
A Livable Communities Initiative (LCI) grant from the ARC was awarded to study the North Druid Hills corridor from Buford Highway to Clairmont Road. We have already started meeting to capture the needs, problems and preferences of the communities along this traffic choked corridor. For more information, click here The Atlanta Regional Commission.
Collaboration with the DeKalb County School System is vital to the future planning for the Buford Highway area near Cross Keys High School to the Briarwood Road intersection. Cross Keys is beginning a major renovation to transform into the DeKalb High School of Technology North.
The Buford Highway portion of this area was part of my Safety Task Force in 2005-2006 and some of those recommendations can now be expanded to this larger planning effort. Our Planning Department has developed initial recommendations for the comprehensive land use of this area but the next step needs to be an area specific Buford Highway community planning workshop. We continue to search for financial resources to make this community planning process a reality.
I am working with fellow commissioners on upgrading several of our senior centers.Unknown to the Commission, the
North Center was demolished in a DeKalb County Housing Authority redevelopment on Johnson Ferry Road leaving the 100+ seniors with no center. Senior Connections came to the rescue with a temporary fix while we find a new location.
The South Center in District 3 has long been in need of an upgrade. The new facility will be at the same location adjacent to the new Candler Rd. Library.
Demographics show us that the largest and fastest growing senior population is in Central DeKalb where a new Center in District 2 will begin to meet the need.
Kittredge: The master planning process is finally underway. The newly organized Friends of Kittredge Park has been advocating for this Plan and holding monthly Park clean-ups.
The first community input meetings were held in October and December. The consulting firm MACTEC presented two park design options for this primarily passive park, based on community ideas, limitations of topography and Park Department policies.
In 2010 watch for a final design presentation and a phase-in plan for implementation, based on prioritizing our limited funds.
: District 6 used the remaining 2001 bond funds balance for the playground repairs.But the recent rains did it again! The ballpark flooded. Thanks to hours of hard work by volunteers from Youth Sports, Medlock and Clairmont Heights Associations and the Shepard Nature Preserve much of the cleanup has been completed. Keep in mind that this is a flood plain so that problem is not going away.
Fork Creek Mountain
: The contract for master planning of this 102-acre park that abuts the Soapstone Quarry site has gone to the MACTEC firm. Three public input meetings will be held in January, February and March of 2010. Check my website calendar for specific dates and location.
: District 6 and 2 used the majority of the remaining 2001 bond fund balances for the new HVAC system and small updates to the recreation building. The HVAC has been installed however the recent storms caused roof damage. Roof repairs are in progress. This is the only Recreation Center in all of District 2. In 2010, watch for small upgrades based on the community's recent planning meetings.
: The master plan has been completed and MACTEC presented schematic designs for the Jamestown, Melton Parks, historic Water Works and Tennis Center areas at a pre-construction information meeting held in November. To view the design, visit the County parks website. In 2010, watch for ground breaking for the day use area.
: A $56,000 balance in the Bouldercrest 2001 District 6 Bond funds will result in a few upgrades to the Park. A citizens group with the Cedar Grove Community Association that is trying to start a Friends of Bouldercrest Park, vetted the wish list for these small but helpful improvements.
Sugar Creek Golf/Tennis Center
: While not a Park per se, District 6 Park Bond funds will go to renovate portions of the Golf Center main building. Community meetings were completed in October and construction bids for the $1.2 million project are scheduled to begin in March 2010.
Public Works and Public Safety
Flooding Update/Public Works
We continue to experience the effects of September's floods in our district. My office has worked hard to keep everyone informed about the recovery efforts. We will continue to provide information about federal, state and county support on our website.
Even though this was a 500-year flood event, we are taking steps to avoid a repeat by allocating $1.3 million in federal stimulus funds to pay for stormwater improvement projects on 103 small drainage projects throughout the County that are "shovel ready." Many of these are in District 6 because we are the older part of the County.
On a positive note, the Drew Valley Drainage Facility, a five year project funded by the County and a federal grant, was a success story during the recent flooding, working exactly as planned with no significant overflow. This area suffered extreme flooding in 2003 and 2004. DeKalb County and the Drew Valley neighborhood were recognized for the detention pond in a "Best Mitigation Practices" article by FEMA titled Reason to Cheer: Detention Pond Offers Neighborhood Relief from Flooding.
Code Red Notification - this is a system used by DeKalb County to notify residents in case of an emergency. If you have not already registered your phone number please visit Code Red and register.
VIP - Volunteers In Patrol is a program run through the DeKalb County Police Department to train volunteers to assist in neighborhood patrols through non-confrontational methods. Please visit the VIP program information site to find out more and how to become a volunteer.
Crimetrac - the website was launched earlier this year to provide citizens access to crime statistics in unincorporated DeKalb County.
New Drivers License - the state of Georgia introduced a new Driver's License in September that will improve security and make it easier to quickly identify "under-21". Your current license is valid and the new license will be issued when you renew.
Additional District 6 Activities in pictures
Briarwood Recreation Center clean up day April 2009
East Lake Terrace Community Vision Day June 2009
National Night Out August 2009
Rain Harvesting at the Winning the Water Wars Workshop September 2009