Friday, February 26, 2016

DeKalb District 6 survey

from Kathie Gannon...
Dear Neighborhood Leaders,

As your County Commissioner, I have made it my mission to make your voice heard.  For big and small issues alike, I insist that your interests "have a seat at the table."  I value your opinions.

A new survey is posted on my website so that you can make clear what our DeKalb County priorities should be.  Tell me what needs to be improved and what needs to be changed.

Please pass this along to your neighborhood groups. I look forward to reading the thoughts you share.

Kathie Gannon
DeKalb County Commissioner
Super District 6

Thursday, February 25, 2016

MARTA / Clifton Corridor presentation to the Medlock neighborhood

MARTA representatives attended the MANA community meeting on February 15, 2016  to discuss the proposed Clifton Corridor expansion that would bring light rail connectivity to our area.  The Clifton Corridor encompasses some of the largest employers in the area: Emory University, Emory Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control, Children’s Healthcare, and Veteran’s Administration Hospital. The overall plan attempts to address current congestion while projecting for the area's needs as far as yr 2040. The Clifton Corridor rail would connect Lindberg and Avondale stations, with multiple in-between stops.

In contrast to heavy rail (like MARTA trains that are powered by ground-level electrified third rail), light rail would be powered by overhead lines. Typically, light rail travels less quickly than heavy rail but offers stops that are more closely spaced. Compared to buses, light rail travels faster (due to right of way) and has higher capacity.

Public meetings and discussions have been ongoing for years (see our Clifton Corridor posts and MARTA's Clifton Corridor page) and through public input meetings, MARTA  is coming closer to defining the locally preferred alternative (LPA) plan.

Current LPA (click to enlarge)
The presentation below includes maps of alternatives being considered, with highlights for our Medlock neighborhood. All options include stops at Emory University / CDC, Suburban Plaza and DeKalb Medical. The current LPA includes Clairmont Rd. service to the VA Hospital. Other alternatives bypass Clairmont and provide service along North Decatur Rd. only, or along North Decatur Rd. and Haywood Drive.

The Haywood Drive option would potentially reduce Clifton Road traffic by 50%. North Decatur Road would have to be widened to allow for a dedicated lane.

MARTA has additional information on federal funding for these types of projects. In a best-case scenario (the proposed T-SPLOST garners support at the November election and additional federal funds for the project are secured), the project could be completed as early as 2025.

The last page of the presentation includes contact information, as MARTA continues to receive input about this plan.

These images provide some ideas of what light rail vehicles and stations may look like (images shared by MARTA).

Notes from MANA Community Meeting (Feb 15)

via Tanya Myers, MANA Secretary

State Representative Rahn Mayo gave a brief recap of the legislative session thus far. Asked about whether there were any cityhood bills he would be voting for, he stated that he’s not been convinced that the cityhood proposals are the solution to the problems that people are looking to have solved. Stonecrest and Greenhaven are the two that might move forward this session, but sentiment of DeKalb delegation for cityhood legislation is lukewarm at best. Answering another question, Rep. Mayo also said the bill to eliminate the CEO position had slim odds of passing.

State Senator Elena Parent mentioned Chamblee annexation proposal, but mentioned that it is large (adds over 100% in area to Chamblee) and doesn’t think it will move forward this year. She also stated that Avondale Estates and Decatur have decided not to move forward with their annexation initiatives this year. As part of the study initiatives, recommendations included a much more comprehensive review process that would include impact on county and school systems and a codification of the rules for how legislation moves forward. Bill to forward study commission recommendations has been introduced and she is hopeful that the bill may move forward. Georgia Municipal Association may be opposed. With respect to Representative Taylor’s bill to reduce the millage rate for DCSD, she is hopeful that it will not move forward.

County Commissioner Kathy Gannon and Jeff Rader spoke about the Doraville TAD and importance to the county. General questions from the audience expressed hesitancy for the school district to take on risk in support of development initiatives. Based on Gannon and Rader’s comments, it seems that there has not been a reasonable mechanism for effective communication and collaboration between the board of commissioners and DeKalb County School District. Gannon spoke about the Blueprint Initiative for reform of DeKalb county government. Budget setting process is ongoing, but she has concerns about some expenditures and is planning to vote against it as it currently stands. Smoke testing of sewer lines will be ongoing throughout the year. Glass recycling was also discussed, and difficulty finding a vendor to accept glass from a multi-stream recycling program (comingled glass breaks and contaminates the more valuable paper recyclables). Audience members mentioned dissatisfaction with the trash/recycling pickup inability to completely service the neighborhood on the target day.

MARTA presented on the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative, giving a general overview of the project and the different alignments under consideration as well as neighborhood impacts. Detailed handouts are included as an attachment to the minutes. [This presentation is covered in a separate post.]

Casey Boudreau gave a Greenspace Update, including cleanup dates initiated by Druid Hills Youth Sports and the workgroup working on the playground. Regarding questions about the lights at the field – these are on timers and DHYS will provide the neighborhood with a number to call when lights are on too late.

Tanya Myers gave a quick schools update on HB 969 to lower the millage rate supporting DCSD.

Theresa Same gave a zoning update, including when stores are expected to open at Suburban Plaza and on Fuqua Phase I (addressing a deviation from negotiated conditions at the corner of North Decatur Rd. and Scott Blvd.). Phase III of the Fuqua Development is in planning; DeKalb Cross-Neighborhoods Committee has provided extensive feedback and revisions to the initially presented plan are coming. Chevron Station on Scott is officially closed, and a national mattress retailer is expected to go into the space. Medlock Gulf is still interested in developing Maddie’s BBQ space into a hybrid battery repair shop, but rezoning will be required and formal plans aren’t available yet. R60 rezoning at corner of Sunnybrook and Medlock is still under consideration.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Paving on Superior Avenue

From DeKalb Watershed Management via Commissioner Kathie Gannon's office:
Please be advised that the cut and plug on N. Decatur was a success. We will begin grout filling of the 14in. on Thursday and Friday. The pouring of concrete cap will take place tomorrow. Weather permitting we are still on schedule for paving on Monday.[February 22]

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Notes from Friends of Medlock Park meeting [2/13/16]

notes prepared by Casey Bordeaux, MANA Greenspace Coordinator

Notes from Friends of Medlock Park meeting, 13 Feb 2016:

Review of action points from January meeting (updates in italics):

1.     Identify landscape architect/designer/playground designer to help figure out what can do

a.     Set up working group to provide input (Lisa will coordinate):  Lisa is organizing work group with Jen Raby and Katie Curtis.  Will send information out via existing channels and try to recruit parents with kids who use the playground to provide input.

b.    County is supposed to maintain playground, including replacing mulch on regular basis but inconsistent.  Parks Department budget has been cut in half in recent years and causes inability to provide a lot of necessary maintenance.  County should still respond to actual safety issues. 

c.     Working group will collect list of safety issues with photos and send to Parks Department:  Paige Singer (Supervisor of Maintenance), Revonda Cosby (County liaison to Park Pride), copy Roy Wilson (Director of Parks & Rec), as well as Commissioner Jeff Rader.

2.     Identify and review grant opportunities:  below is link to Park Pride website

a. home page

i.       According to Dave Butler, we could potentially apply for 2 types of grants with Park Pride.  Small grants (up to $2,500) which are awarded throughout the year as well as the large community grants (up to $50k) which are only awarded once per year with deadline in the fall for applications

c.     Create list of items for smaller grant or donation options, like benches or message board to place near playground to display notices of interest to Park users.  MANA could potentially help raise funds for these types of small projects.  Identify possible Eagle Scout projects.  Notify Revonda of any such projects.

3.     Organize cleanup of floodplain lots (debris; undesirable plantings; etc.) – tentatively in Mar 2016 (prior to significant Spring growing season):  possible dates 3/26 or 4/2

a.     Action point:  Casey to contact Dave Butler for assistance:  Dave has agreed to help.  Dave to confirm whether or not 3/26 will work for him.  Consider having monthly events to increase opportunities for neighborhood and user involvement, such as create "Medlock Park Rangers" group

b.    Identify and review grant opportunities:  Casey made contact with Trees Atlanta, need to follow up but could be possible.  Casey sent email requests to Trees Atlanta 2/13.  Further research needed to determine if should apply for grants through Park Pride.

4.     Lots of mud & sand get washed out during rain, hard to clean up (may be coming from Horse Park);  Dave has pursued working on mitigating these issues with the horse park for a number of years without significant progress

a.     Tex to contact Paige at Parks & Rec:  County is supposed to come out next week to power wash PATH (paved area) and other areas to remove mud

5.     Better maintain creekside trail

a.     Action point:  Lisa to contact South Fork Conservancy & Keep DeKalb Beautiful for help  KDB needs 5 day lead time to provide supplies for event.  No response yet from SFC – Dave B is currently working with SFC, which has no Exec Dir.  Suggest plan for fall event (creek usually lower in the Fall), coordinate with Rivers Alive program

b.     Action point:  Identify landscape architect with appropriate expertise who can assist with project.  Table for now.

c.     Action point: Organize cleanup (potentially piggyback with Scott lots clean-up in March 2016) - Suggest change of plan to have fall event instead of Spring (creek usually lower in the Fall), coordinate with Rivers Alive program; Dave Butler has experience organizing creek cleanups (and has relationship with South Fork Conservancy) and he will help in Fall.

i.       More plantings (trees help soak up water)

Dave Butler:  on Parks Community Advisory Board (CAB).  Fuqua (and Selig) owe trees to DeKalb county tree bank due to development.  Tex:  has been informed by Paige that Medlock Park is on the list to get trees but no timeline. Type and size of trees depends on request and location.  He has a plan for the park proper (by PATH and along field in back), will send to Paige and Steve Strickland, County Arborist.  Casey will review with MANA to ensure tree request is on radar for both Selig and Fuqua.  There are no good options to plant trees (for shade) or bushes (to soak up water) near playground.

Consider involving other groups such as trail runners to assist with maintaining creek side trails.  Lisa has Intown Ace gift certificates that could be used as incentives, rewards. 


Update on capital campaign?  Not yet started, still in planning phase of multi year proposal.  There will be a field work day next Sat, 2/20 from 9 am – 1 pm.  Focus is mainly on ball fields and immediate areas, including culvert area near playground and playground itself.  Chris and Tex will be present to organize volunteers, there will be a sign in table and some equipment provided.  Lisa will send out notice of clean-up to Friends of Medlock Park Facebook group and main Medlock Park Neighbors Facebook group to try to get residents to volunteer.

Inquiry about land survey few months ago: DHYS commissioned to mark boundaries for proposed plan to increase compliance with ADA and assist with potential future drainage work.  Lingering plastic ties will be removed during cleanup day, anyone can also remove – please just ensure proper disposal!


Update on bids for 979 Scott Circle – vacant white house:  Email from Brian Shoun, DeKalb Flood Management on 2/11:  Still working on it and the demolition date is not set.

Continue to followup with Brian on 979 Scott.  Also discussed flood plain lots on Hunting Valley – KDB is supposed to maintain but inconsistent and inadequate response.  Consider cleanup day, either linked to Scott lots one or other day.  Hanging wires near the community garden are likely phone lines that neither the demolition companies nor the utilities will remove.  As they are not electric, can be removed or at least trimmed during a cleanup day.

Emails from Medlock residents:  

Lights in ball fields:  Are on timer, max is 12 hours which means sometimes could accidentally be on past 11 pm cut off time.  DHYS tries to ensure lights are off before departing, and will investigate replacing some timers to ease manual shut off.  DHYS will provide an after-hours phone number on main light box to report problems, this number will also be shared on MANA web page when made public.

Hazards in the park:  Report any safety issues to FOMP group, DHYS or MANA

Inquiry about dog park:  as previously reported, a dog park is NOT possible in the current MP footprint nor in the Scott lots greenspace due to being in floodplain and close proximity to stream or ditch – law requires 200 foot buffer.  DHYS requested reminder that dogs are NEVER allowed on fields, and both MANA and DHYS remind dog owners to comply with state laws to keep dogs on leash (if caught, ticket can be $200+) and to pick up and properly dispose of poop.

To Stay Informed:

People can find updates relating to the park at:

Friends of Medlock Park Facebook Group -

can subscribe to for the Friends of Medlock Park email list at:

Updates are also posted on the MANA web site:

Next Friends of Medlock Park meeting:

Saturday, March 12 at 9:00a at the Clubhouse meeting room in the park

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Suburban Plaza shops: a quick peek inside

Construction and remodeling continue at Suburban Plaza.

Here are some photos for those of us who like peeking through not-yet-open storefronts to see how construction is coming along...

Ross Dress for Less will be located at the end closest to Walmart. This store is expected to open in June 2016.
Next to Ross is HomeGoods. Their store sign is up and a banner reads "Now Hiring." According to Tomorrow's News Today Atlanta, March 13, 2016 will be opening day.
Then there's Half Price Books,
opening in summer 2016. To the
right, a video of how they furnish
and stock their stores

Sitting across LA Fitness is the future location of JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store. Their banner says they will open on April 28. 
JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store frontage and landscaping, with the Church Street entrance visible.
On the North Decatur Road side, Starbucks and its drive-through window are taking shape. 
And across the street, Phase I of Fuqua's Decatur Crossing is rising very quickly. Click to enlarge.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Great Backyard Bird Count [Feb 12-15]

Join the 2016 annual, world-wide Great Backyard Bird Count! Since 1998, over 100,000 people have participated in this citizen-powered science project. The requirements are simple: for the period of February 12-15, set aside 15 minutes to count birds on one or more days. Then, submit your observations to the bird count website.

Those new to the count will need to create an account first.

To get started, go to

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DeKalb schools: AdvancEd/SACS accreditation reinstated

Congratulations to the DeKalb County School System for regaining full accreditation! For additional information and a link to their press release, go to

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Decatur annexation is off the table for 2016

City of Decatur has released a statement indicating that it will not be pursuing annexation during the current legislative session, Decaturish reported this morning.

Because an updated Senate agenda was not released confirming this announcement (and the last available agenda showed the annexation bill being discussed on February 4), MANA and CHCA representatives headed to the state capitol for answers. Senator Butler's assistant (Senator Butler chairs the DeKalb Senate Delegation) was able to confirm that the item was being pulled from the agenda, and Senator Parent followed up by email with an updated agenda that no longer included House Bill 663:
-Homestead Exemptions for Seniors
-City of Decatur & City Schools of Decatur Homestead Exemptions
-DeKalb County Charter Review Commission
-DeKalb County Legislative Agenda
*The Chairwoman reserves the right to change the agenda at her discretion at any time.
DecaturMetro has City of Decatur's press release here, which ends with "It is anticipated that the City Commission and the Board of Education will revisit annexation later in 2016 to determine what options should be pursued in the future."  Decaturish also recently reported that Decatur is updating its comprehensive plan which, per City Manager Peggy Merris, relates to infrastructure and issues like zoning and land use:
Here’s where we think the land use might change in the next 10 years, or here are the big developments we think might happen, or it could be a new road system or a new transit system. It’s really dealing with the physical placement of development and infrastructure.” 
One way or another, it's safe to say we will be hearing about annexation again.

We want to acknowledge our MANA and CHCA neighbors and volunteers and DeKalb County residents everywhere for seeing the bigger picture (impact on DeKalb's public schools), signing this year's anti-annexation petition, and contacting our elected officials.