Kelly Walsh Announces Candidacy For District 1 Commission Seat

Let the local political season begin!  Kelly Walsh’s campaign sent out this announcement this morning…

Decatur resident Kelly Walsh announced Tuesday her candidacy for City of Decatur District 1 Commission seat currently held by Fred Boykin. Commissioner Boykin is retiring this year, having served the city in that position since 2001 and as Mayor Pro-Tem since 2016.

“My priority first and foremost is to listen to our residents and incorporate their views into decisions, knowing that inclusion of all voices is paramount to the continued success of Decatur,” says Walsh. “My goals are to work toward finding a balance between smart development that allows for green space enhancement and preservation, encouraging active lifestyles for all Decatur residents through walkability initiatives, and supporting the continued success of our high-quality schools. Together these efforts will combine to support the strong economy and vitality of our commercial sector.”

Continue reading “Kelly Walsh Announces Candidacy For District 1 Commission Seat”

City of Decatur To Purchase United Methodist Children’s Home Property for $40 Million

Two press releases back-to-back!  First from the City of Decatur…

At its April 17, 2017 meeting, the Decatur City Commission voted to purchase approximately 77 acres of property currently owned by the United Methodist Children’s Home of the North Georgia Conference, Inc. (UMCH) for $40 Million. The property is located adjacent to the southeastern city limits of Decatur.

Mayor Patti Garrett said, “The purchase of this property fits with the City’s mission, vision and values and is an investment for current and future families and children. Garrett noted, “The City of Decatur is uniquely positioned to be the trustee of this resource and the purchase provides a long-term legacy for generations to come.”

Proceeds of the sale will help UMCH reach more children and families in crisis in new communities across North Georgia, according to Rev. Hal Jones, UMCH President and CEO. The sale terms include preservation of the historic Moore Chapel and the gravesite of UMCH’s founder Rev. Dr. Jesse Boring and naming the administrative building located near the gravesite in recognition of former Executive Director Bev Cochran.

It is anticipated that the UMCH will vacate the property by late summer or early fall, 2017. Once the City owns the property, the City will annex the acreage and begin a community-based master planning effort engaging nearby neighborhoods, UMCH alumni and other stakeholders to help determine a vision and plan for future use.

And the United Methodist Children’s Home put out this press release…

Responding to the growing needs of the children and families it serves, on April  12 the Board of Trustees of The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH) agreed to sell the ministry’s 77 acre campus to the City of Decatur.

The Decatur City Commission approved the purchase at their April 17, 2017, Commission meeting held earlier this evening at Decatur City Hall. Proceeds of the sale – priced at $40 million – will help UMCH reach more children and families in crisis in new communities across North Georgia.

The sale terms include preservation of the historic Moore Chapel and the gravesite of UMCH’s founder Rev. Dr. Jesse Boring.

Continue reading “City of Decatur To Purchase United Methodist Children’s Home Property for $40 Million”

How Will Decatur Use the United Methodist Children’s Home Property If Purchased?

The Decatur City Commission will vote at tonight’s meeting to purchase the United Methodist Children’s Home 77 acre property that sits along South Columbia Drive, just outside the Decatur city limits.  If approved, the city would then move to annex the property into the city limits.

But then what?

The City Manager Peggy Merriss’ memo to the commission notes that the city would then start up one of its favorite activities – community-based master planning!  But her note also goes on to give a sense of what the city is thinking about in terms of utilizing the property in the coming months/years….

The property includes athletic fields and a gymnasium that can be used to address the increasing demands of Decatur’s families and children for places to play and socialize. There are also existing facilities that could be used to house the City’s Children and Youth Services Division and help provide an opportunity to expand afterschool and summer programs.  There are approximately 25 acres of open and green space that can be preserved.

“The UMCH staff anticipates that they will be able to vacate the property in late summer/early fall, 2017.” , according to the City Manager.  So look for a lot more activity surrounding this purchase in the coming months.

Mayor Pro Tem Fred Boykin Stepping Down at the End of the Year

The AJC reports that Mayor Pro Tem Fred Boykin – who’s been on the Decatur City Commission since 2000 – is planning on stepping down from his commission seat at the end of the year.   According to the piece, the Bicycle South founder and cycling advocate plans to spend more time on his new boat, which is docked in Ft. Myers, FL.

Qualifying for the open seat on the city commission isn’t until August.

Photo courtesy of Bicycle South Facebook page

Kathie Gannon Selected as DeKalb Commission Presiding Officer

Commissioner Kathie Gannon sent around this announcement…

The results of last year’s elections in DeKalb came into focus on Tuesday when a new Board of Commissioners elected Kathie Gannon as presiding officer. At the first Board of Commissioners meeting of the year, the Board selects its presiding officer who chairs the Board meetings and establishes the Board agenda. Gannon, who represents the western half of DeKalb County, replaces Larry Johnson who had served as presiding officer for 7 of the past 8 years.

“I’m honored to have been chosen by my peers, and I thank Commissioner Larry Johnson for his dedicated service” said Gannon. “My goal is to improve how the Board of Commissioners work. In our form of government the CEO is responsible for the day to day operations of the departments. The Board of Commissioners establishes policies.”

Gannon has immediately called for a Board retreat to reach a consensus on which policies the Board will address first. “There are plenty of issues we must consider: police retention, dilapidated housing, economic development, funding for roads and transportation, and more. I want our Board to reach a consensus on what we tackle first. Then I want to use our committees to focus on them, hear from experts and find solutions” Said Gannon.

Kathie Gannon represents approximately 350,000 citizens in the western half of DeKalb County. She is one of two Super District Commissioners. The DeKalb Board of Commissioners is comprised of five district commissioners and two super districts. She was re-elected in 2016 to a fourth term.

MARTA Working with GA Legislature On $5.5 Billion Rail Projects Bill, Which Could Fund Clifton Corridor

According to the Atlanta Business Chroncle, MARTA is working with the Georgia Legislature pass a bill this year that would ask voters to approve a sales tax increase that would fund $5.5 billion in new rail projects in Fulton and DeKalb County over the next couple of decades.

MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe characterized the effort as ““What we’re looking for is to give Fulton and DeKalb the same thing Atlanta got in 2016,”.  In 2016, Atlanta residents the General Assembly passed and voters ratified $2.5 billion for new rail projects in the City of Atlanta, but nowhere else.

“Does this better connect the Decatur rail commuter to the broader region?”, you ask.  Why perhaps.  Perhaps indeed.  From the ABC…

Rail projects that could be funded through the new legislation include a light-rail line along the Clifton Corridor, an extension of MARTA’s North Line from Dunwoody to Alpharetta, an extension of MARTA heavy rail east along Interstate 20 and bus-rapid transit service, also along the I-20 corridor.

Here are a couple of Clifton Corridor maps that show the current alternatives for routes/stops as of late 2016 from a MARTA “fact sheet”. Click to enlarge.

More as this develops.

MARTA proposed map from 2015 courtesy of WABE

Decatur Commission To Vote on PATH Plan for 9.2 Miles of Ped/Bike Trail Improvements

The Decatur City Commission meets this evening to vote on a Decatur PATH Connectively and Implementation Plan.

According to a note from Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon, “The Plan identifies 9.2 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trail improvements in Decatur in 7 segments at a cost of approximately $12 million over a 10-year period.”

The Commerce Drive Cycle Track is the plan’s top priority, connecting an already approved and planned Church Street Cycle Track and the currently under construction North McDonough Cycle Track.  The Commerce Drive Cycle Track runs along the westside the of the Commerce Drive downtown bypass and then turns and goes up Trinity to connect with N. McDonough.

The Church Street Cycle Track would take cyclists north to Medlock Road and connect up with the Mason Mill Trail via Medlock Park.

The planned East Decatur Greenway and a proposed cycle track from McDonough thru Oakhurst Village to Kirkwood via Oakview Road are also included on the map.

The Commission meets tonight at 7:30p.  Here’s the full agenda for the meeting.