Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cosmic line-up: 5 planets for the price of 1

from http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2016/01/18/planets-morning-sky-january-february/78962134/
If you are up at the crack o' dawn over the next several weeks, face south to watch Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn line up (but not in that order) for your personal enjoyment. If you miss them, there will be another show, evenings, next August 13-19.

According to USA Today, the last time this happened was in 2005. So, not a once in a lifetime happening but also not something you see every day!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Red-Winged Blackbird crossing

better quality, longer video available here.
video

Sunday double-luck... first, to catch a massive flock of red-winged blackbirds as it crossed Scott Blvd and again as it flew over Harrington Road heading to towards the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve (which is having a clean-up day tomorrow Jan 18). 3+ minutes of fly-bys and blackbird chatter... priceless.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Coming soon: connection between Ira B. Melton & Mason Mill Parks

via Commissioner Jeff Rader
Greetings:

Work will soon begin on the path linking Ira B. Melton to Mason Mill Park.  You may have already noticed the stakes for the portion that Ed Castro Landscapes will be improving.  Please note, this passage will be cleared with construction fencing to a wider width of about 10 to 14 feet just to allow for materials to be brought to the creek’s crossing.  Once complete, the path will only be 6 feet wide.  Additionally, the path will be constructed of a pervious composite material to ensure that the sediments in the flood plain don’t become mucky, making the trail impassible.  Also of note are three sections of the trail which will be improved with wooden crossings of drainage swales, again to prevent degradation of the forest floor.  We hope you enjoy these improvements.

See you out on the trail!

Jeff Rader, Commissioner
District 2, DeKalb County
www.commissionerrader.com
404-371-2863

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Notes from Friends of Medlock Park meeting

notes prepared by Casey Bodreau and Lisa Crowder

Friends of Medlock Park
Notes from January Meeting
Saturday, January 9, 2016 - 9:00a

Attendees:
Chris Foster (DHYS President), Tex Blair (DHYS Operations), Casey Boudreau (MANA), Kaye Smith (Medlock Community Garden), Lisa Crowder, Jenna Zargon, Diana Flowers

1.         DHYS - DHYS is the "Friends of Medlock Park" group of record with DeKalb county's Department of Parks and Recreation.  Currently, DeKalb County Parks & Rec maintains very little of the park (primarily the grass outside the park and the pool) while DHYS (which is a volunteer-run organization) maintains the ball fields and related structures (batting cages, storage buildings, clubhouse), and most of the grass inside the park.

a.         DHYS role is to manage Medlock Park baseball/sports program
b.         Friends of Medlock Park should focus on all other common spaces in the park (except for pool)

2.         Recent park land survey

a.         DHYS commissioned the survey to mark park boundaries & update maps to guide plans for future improvements

3.         DHYS is starting capital campaign to raise money for:

a.         Re-paving and re-striping existing parking areas to allow for maximum capacity usage within these existing parking areas (N=75-80).  Because the park is in a floodplain, there are many requirements regarding surfacing.  Parking is a perennial issue for DHYS and the neighborhood.

i.          Discussed ideas for paving options
ii.          Not currently planning to address issues of water run off (to improve drainage)

b.         Reinforcing pathways to fields 2 & 3 to allow for greater accessibility (many grandparents, etc. come to see games and have difficulty accessing these fields)

i.          Discussed substrate options
ii.          Also looking to improve drainage on old stream bed near playground

c.         Improve the playground - the playground is used by both DHYS and the neighborhood and is an obvious focus for improvement

d.         Lisa asked if "Friends" could have separate fundraising campaign from "DHYS" with separate account to raise $ for non-baseball improvements, such as the playground

i.          Chris Foster will investigate

4.         Lisa Crowder reviewed results from her online survey (https://showing247.wufoo.com/forms/medlock-park-survey/).  The purpose of the survey is to determine who is using the park, how they are using it, whether they are satisfied with the park as it is and if not how they would like to change it, and whether they are willing to help in the process of improving the park.

a.         140+ responses so far

i.          Results available online at:  https://showing247.wufoo.com/reports/medlock-park-survey-report/

(a)        94 female respondents - 48 male respondents
(b)        Approximately half of respondents are DHYS participants
(c)        Most respondents aged 30-49
(d)        Many respondents willing to volunteer (largest number willing to volunteer for creek clean-up but significant number also willing to volunteer for park maintenance, playground committee, building committee and more
(e)        3/4s of respondents willing to make donation to park improvements
(f)         Majority of park respondents live in Medlock or in 30033
(g)        Approximately 1/3 of respondents use the park more than once a week
(h)        Single biggest amenity used by respondents is The PATH (85%); 59% playground; 52% greenspace; 42% baseball fields; 40% creek
(i)         Of respondents who report they use the creek, nearly 80% say they would participate in a creek clean-up
(j)         Many respondents left comments of ideas for improving the park

b.         Friends of Medlock Park Facebook group has been created as a way to better communicate with the community, and currently has 40 members (it is a "Closed" group that people may join at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/friendsofmedlockpark/)

5.         Casey reviewed status of Scott lots masterplan - (The Scott lots are sites of former homes along Scott Circle that were bought out by the county using FEMA money because of persistent flooding.  The lots were adjacent to Medlock Park and are now under the control of DeKalb Parks & Recreation.)

a.         Met with County Commissioner Jeff Rader on 11/23 – he is supportive of neighborhood effort to improve Scott lots (further details from this meeting previously shared)
b.         Master plan was submitted to and accepted by Parks Dept
c.         Next steps

i.          apply for grants & otherwise raise money
ii.         recruit help to implement, in phases

6.         Tex asked about plan for South Peachtree Creek PATH to connect to Druid Hills Middle School – no one else was aware

7.         Should DHYS and Friends group be separate entities?

a.         Chris not sure DHYS wants to do this, thinks better to work together
b.         Some think could improve relations between neighborhood & DHYS
c.         Group agreed best to continue to have stand-alone Friends meetings (like this meeting) rather than having the Friends meeting be part of a DHYS board meeting (as has been the case in recent history)

i.          Need to harness the energy of both communities
ii.          DHYS happy to help with fundraising (DHYS is 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization) & willing to match funds for non-baseball improvements
iii.         Try to get Parks & Rec official (Paige Singer ?) to attend future FOMP meeting for better sense of what county can/will do for park

8.         What are the priorities as far as non-baseball activities?

a.         Playground

i.          Fix surface
ii.          Add shade
iii.         Upgrade structures

(a)        Action Points
•           Identify landscape architect/designer/playground designer to help figure out what can do
•           Set up working group to provide input (Lisa will coordinate)
•           Identify and review grant opportunities
b.         Scott lots

i.          Organize cleanup of current space (debris; undesirable plantings; etc.) – tentatively in Mar 2016 (prior to significant Spring growing season)
ii.          Action point:  Casey to contact Dave Butler for assistance
iii.         Identify and review grant opportunities

c.         Creek

i.          Based on survey responses, many people use the creek and would like to see it cleaned up and better maintained
ii.          Lots of mud & sand get washed out during rain, hard to clean up (may be coming from Horse Park) - Tex to contact Paige at Parks & Rec
iii.         Ideas to pursue further

(a)        Better maintain creekside trail
•           Maybe enhance surfacing along the creek to make it less treacherous? Cannot interfere with flood drainage.
•           Action point:  Lisa to contact South Fork Conservancy & Keep DeKalb Beautiful for help
•           Action point:  Identify landscape architect with appropriate expertise who can assist with project
•           Action point: Organize cleanup (potentially piggyback with Scott lots clean-up in March 2016)
(b)        More plantings (trees help soak up water)

9.         Next meeting:  Sat 2/13 at 9a in park clubhouse meeting room

Consensus was that we need greater participation from the community.  DHYS is a volunteer organization that has a lot on its plate with running the sports program and keeping the baseball parts of the park in shape.  If neighbors want park improvements they need to get involved both in the organizational efforts and by contributing time, skills and money.  Parks & Rec has no money for improvements and relies on DHYS for almost all maintenance to the park.  DHYS will try to match neighborhood donations.  We need to find outside funding sources, and we need more people to participate in planning.

Additional issues discussed:

1.         Lights are sometimes not turned off when fields are vacated, Tex to remind users to not leave lights on all night as are on 12 hour timer & costs $65/hour to run

2.         MANA to send info out by email to increase reach of information

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve work day [Jan 18]

Join us for our annual MLK Volunteer Day at the Preserve on Monday, January 18 from 1-3pm!

Help us mulch trails, finish painting the observation deck, and repair boardwalks after recent flooding.

Please bring work gloves, yard tools, and a wheel barrow, if you can.

If you want to join the "privet patrol," please bring loppers or pruners.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Year Pet Adoptions

LIFELINE ANIMAL PROJECT INVITES YOU TO CELEBRATE A HEALTHIER NEW YEAR BY ADOPTING A PET FOR ONLY $16 DURING JANUARY!
Special Adoption Rate Applies to All Dogs over 25 lbs. and all Cats

ATLANTA, GA -- (December 31, 2015)  LifeLine Animal Project, the nonprofit which has pledged to have its county shelters obtain historical no-kill levels by the end of 2016, invites you to keep your New Year’s resolution to be healthier by adopting a new pet for only $16!  During the month of January, adopters may choose any dog over 25 lbs. or any cat for only $16, including the pet’s spay/neuter, microchip and vaccines – a $250 value!

According to LifeLine Animal Project CEO Rebecca Guinn, everyone wins when a pet is adopted.  “When you adopt a pet, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of better health,” she says.  “According to The American Heart Association, people who own pets have a reduced risk for heart disease, visit the doctor less and live longer than people who don’t.”

All of LifeLine’s shelters are participating in the $16 adoption promotion, including:  DeKalb County Animal Services (DCAS), Fulton County Animal Services (FCAS), LifeLine’s Dog House & Kitty Motel and LifeLine’s Cat Adoption Center.

Whatever your needs, likes or limitations, there is a pet (or two) available right now that is perfect for your household. To view animals available for adoption, for adoption rates, or for the shelters’ addresses and phone numbers, please visit www.dekalbanimalservices.com, www.fultonanimalservices.com or www.lifelineanimal.org.

About LifeLine Animal Project
Founded in 2002, LifeLine Animal Project is Atlanta’s leading nonprofit organization providing lifesaving solutions to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals in county shelters, promote animal welfare and prevent pet overpopulation. As the managing organization for DeKalb County Animal Services and Fulton County Animal Services, Lifeline has dramatically increased adoption rates by 98 percent.  The organization also operates two low-cost spay/neuter clinics, which have performed 85,000 surgeries to date.  Other outreach efforts include its Catlanta trap-neuter-return program, the first and largest in metro Atlanta, for stray and feral cats.  For more information, please visit www.lifelineanimal.org.

Friday, January 8, 2016

DeKalb Delegation Townhall Meeting

DeKalb Delegation members listened to citizen concerns at the last pre-2016 legislative session townhall meeting.
MANA representatives were present at the DeKalb Legislative Delegation's Townhall meeting on January 7, 2016 at the Maloof Building.  It was a lively, well attended session that lasted around 2 hours.

Senator Gloria Butler's reversal of her appointment of Harmel Codi to the County's Audit Oversight Committee was a hot topic; multiple speakers asked the delegation to look into the situation and wondered if this is a sign that the effort to reform DeKalb is already compromised. When asked if the other Senators were part of the decision to remove Ms. Codi, Senators Parent and Millar responded no. Senator Butler did not attend the town hall meeting.

As expected, many topics were covered--potholes and speed limits, crime, mortar fireworks, police officer compensation, quality public education, concerns about home insurance providers using breed-specific lists to reject would-be policy buyers, among others. Cityhood was a common theme, specifically the proposed cities of Stonecrest and Greenhaven, with strong voices and a variety of arguments. The new cities had strong support with many people asking for action during this legislative session so that they can vote soon. Conversely, many speakers asked for careful consideration of how new cities impact the County's ability to function and emphasized their belief that creating cities does not fix the kinds of problems mentioned by citizens at this very meeting--the way out is to strengthen the County. A speaker compared ill-conceived cityhood proposals to the Wizard of Oz: there is a man behind the curtain, a master puppeteer, but that will not "give you courage or give you a brain" to fix the problems you already have.

MANA's president, Lynn Ganim, asked the legislators to consider the impact of commercial annexations such as those pursued by City of Decatur these last several years. It is an issue of fairness, she said, with a significant impact on DeKalb County School System's budget.

The 2016 legislation session begins on January 11, 2016.

Mattress store, wireless provider coming to 1468 Scott Blvd. (Chevron gas station site)

1468 Scott Blvd. site
Atlanta's Tomorrow News Today Atlanta reports that a mattress retailer and cellular provider store will be replacing the Chevron gas station at 1486 Scott Boulevard. The existing SunTrust ATM will be "rebuilt and relocated as part of the new center" that encompasses ~ 6,000 sq ft. The report also indicates demolition to begin soon and construction to be completed by August.

See our previous report on this redevelopment and negotiated conditions here.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Notes from community meeting: proposed Phase III for Fuqua's Decatur Crossing development

Phase III of Fuqua's Decatur Crossing development is being proposed for the site of the old Banner Ford lot on Scott Blvd. Redevelopments for Phase I (former site of Scott Blvd. Baptist Church) and Phase II (formerly single-family lots on Barton Way and Blackmon Drive) have been approved are under way.
Phase III, bound by yellow line, is being proposed for the site of the old Banner Ford lot on Scott Blvd.
The meeting (January 6, 2016) was led by Dan Webb, representing Fuqua Development. 80-100 people attended.

Fuqua is proposing to develop the site to include:
  • senior affordable living (NOT assisted living but rather, smaller apartments for independent living; affordable per federal definition). 5 stories, 102 units proposed with podium parking (i.e., under the building vs. adjacent)
  • a grocer (more traditional as compared to specialty such as the Sprouts grocer coming to Phase II)
  • a restaurant with drive-through
  • a multi-story, multi-family housing building with parking located at its center (therefore not visible from the street). 260 units, 5 stories proposed.
  • a self-storage facility (to include storage in the upper floors and conference centers in the lower floor; the idea is that stock can be stored in the upper stories and vendors can use the lower levels to meet with clients)
  • there would be 2 access points on Scott Blvd. (one existing, one new) and two on Church Street
This is part three of the Decatur Crossing complex that began with Phase I at the site of the old Scott Blvd. Baptist Church.

Details for proposed Phase II, with access from Scott Blvd. and Church St. Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
The parcel is 9.2 acres and has C2 zoning and Fuqua would be requesting a zoning change to allow for the construction of the residential buildings (senior and multi-family housing).

There were a number of questions and comments from the audience around the following concerns. Answer is from Mr. Webb unless otherwise noted.

Q: Total number of residential units in the apartment building?
   A: 260

Q: Updates on Phase I and II?
   A: as previously reported. Phase I is under development, foundation work in progress. Parking deck should be complete in April and residents should be able to move in early in 2017. Phase II--land disturbance and demolition permits secured, utilities have been removed, preparing to install land disturbance fencing and should expect 6-9 construction period.

Q: Have traffic studies been done? 
  A: No, need to work with DeKalb on these.

Q: Workforce housing?
   A: Some of this was assigned on Phase II, 20%? [note: MANA is not sure that this percentage was agreed upon]

Q: Impact on Tuxworth condo residents' ability to enter/exit? 
   A: Stop light should slow things down a bit but the left turn onto Tuxworth likely to get a bit worse.

Q: Does a drive-through really fit our vision for the area (walkability, community-building) and if a drive-through must exist, can it be a nice one like is being done for the Suburban Plaza Starbucks?
  A: Will look at it. Fuqua agreed to install a drive-through in order to get one of the small property owners to move over.

Q: Active seniors are different.  They are ACTIVE.  They need pedestrian and bike access from their building to other area amenities – like the bowling alley.

Q: What is the parking for senior facility?
  A: it will be podium parking – building at grade.

Q: A blank wall of parking will not be a pleasant walking environment.

Q: Estimated rental cost for senior and multi-family housing?
  A: Not available at this point. Fuqua will partner with residential developer.

Q: Where are the bike trails and connectivity? All I see is buildings.  There is a creek that runs under Banner Ford.  Can’t you take advantage of it? This is over-building.  Need progressive thought – be creative; put a field on top of the parking lot, make beautification and greenspace a priority.  This is an opportunity to have a development that enhances the quality of life. People are taking more responsibility for their health and wellness. We need more green space per capita given the number of residents being added? [Clapping from the audience]
  A: 1 acre park in Phase II, pocket park, sidewalks are adding connectivity within the development and out of it

Q: Square footage for apartments?
  A: Small, in the 1-2 bedroom range

Q: Need to do traffic studies now, after many people move in, it's too late. Same for greenspace. Emphasis on multimodal transport is needed.
  A: There was a traffic study for Phase II. Fuqua could add more commercial that would further increase traffic rather than residential.

Q: Phase II didn't include recommendations from previous meeting at this same location
  A: Sidewalks are being added, met with Cross-Neighborhoods Committee and incorporated much feedback

Q: What is considered affordable senior housing. Will this be HUD housing? Need in-between housing, for people who don't qualify for HUD but cannot afford the expensive senior housing
  A: federal definition. The financing sets some guidelines and so does the market. We need a number of units "affordable" in order to get the tax credit.

Q: Need a stop light for seniors to get in and out of Scott Blvd.
  A: will be right in, right out on Scott

Q: Stops for MARTA, Cliff Shuttle?
   A: yes, on Phase II

Q: Who is the developer for the senior facility?
   A: Can't say at the point

Q: Connectivity? Sidewalks on other side of Scott Blvd?
  A: The crosswalk is in place, will have pedestrian island.
  A: Acknowledgement this area is not very walkable right now. There is a very narrow, overgrown sidewalk on that side.

Q: Any chance to eliminate that drive-through restaurant concept
   A: It's this market that adds this kind of set-up. 
       Q: Then can we at least make it look good?

Q: Development with retail on bottom floor?
    A: not on Phase III. The jury is out on whether putting business under apartments is good.

Q: Can't we have something original and creative, like Ponce City Market? Add quality of life and still have options to be outdoors?

Q: There is a community within the development. Need bike lanes.
  A: will look at it

Q: Any environmental remediation needed on this site?
  A: no issues so far; none for Phase I and II.

Q: Can we just make this a 9 acre parking lot so we can drive here and park our cars and take the Clifton Corridor (train)?

Q: Concerns about the glut of apartments being built in the area (Decatur Crossing, Milscott, Church St.) when there are vacancies in nearby apartments on DeKalb Industrial
  A: Building to meet projected needs. We are still under the recommendations of the Medline Study. People don't want to live in "dinosaurs" like the apartments on DeKalb Industrial. "Folks with liquidity" want nearby amenities.

Q: This is a suburban development and not what people in Decatur want. This is not mixed use--it's 85% residential.
  A: We've heard your concerns; you were the sole opposition on Phase I and II.
  A: an audience member said he felt he's the so-called target audience and the development does not appeal ("I would never go here")as it's high on residential as compared to developments such as Ponce City Market, Krog... Edgewood is NOT the goal here.

Q: Paces and Jamestown are good progressive developers. This is suburban development here--we don't want suburban development.
  A: Town Brookhaven is very successful. I've seen lots of people walking within the development -- many successful restaurants
  A: (from audience member) There are 5 closed restaurants in Town Brookhaven right now. People don't walk to it
  A: the location doesn't have any residential so you have to drive to it.

Q: The access point on Church St. has serious elevation problems.
  A: We know.

Q: Has Fuqua considered developing incubator space for start-ups?
  A: There is office space facing N Decatur Rd in Phase II. That could be used as incubator space. Can't answer if Fuqua could subsidize. Will talk later about what exactly the questioner is talking about.

Q: Is Fuqua going to listen to any of these comments?
  A: Mr. Webb took notes and read back the issues he had annotated.

Q: Look at northeastern cities -- old trees lining streets make the cities beautiful. THey must be given space to grow -- like large oak trees. Cannot stuff a crepe myrtle into a box and call it tree-lined. Not healthy for trees.
  A: We had community feedback about types of trees to install in Phase I and II.

Q: Can you meet with the PATH foundation --they installed the beautiful path from Medlock Park to the tennis courts (Mason Mill Park). They have grants for thsi type of thing.
  A: We will meet with PATH. We will meet with the County and ARC.

Q: What now? What is your next meeting? How do we continue?
  A: MANA has done a good job serving as the mouth piece on these developments. Check the website. Fuqua will be meeting with neighborhood leaders so talk to your representatives [Cross-Neighborhoods Committee email appears below]

Additional comments and discussion:
  • about the Clifton Corridor, area traffic/transportation issues. Davis Fox (from Commissioner Gannon's office) provided a brief summary about routes being considered as part of MARTA's potential expansion in this area. He wondered if Clifton Corridor would be better served by connecting to Decatur station via Church St. Also mentioned light rail down N Decatur Rd. with bike paths. This could cause people to change their route. PATH is still working to better connect to Emory and Druid Hills Rd.
  • about not being short-sighted in developing the area: a desire for walkability, healthy outdoor spaces, preserving large trees and the importance of conducting studies now rather than later and trying to retrofit livability into the area
  • about whether Fuqua is going to use the email addresses in the sign-up sheet to stay in touch with those in attendance
  • recommendation that Fuqua contacts the PATH Foundation that built the South Peachtree Creek trail (that connects Medlock Park to Mason Mill Park), asap.
Thoughts, comments, concerns? Email them to crossneighborhoodscommittee@gmail.com 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reminder: Fuqua Phase III meeting tonight [Jan 6]

Phases of Fuqua. Modified from GoogleMaps
Fuqua Development is gearing up for Phase III of its nearby development that began at the former site of Scott Blvd. Baptist Church (aka Phase I). Phase II involves adjacent land formerly occupied by single family homes. Phase III, in current discussion, will include the now-abandoned Ford dealership on Scott Boulevard.

Lase December, the AJC reported Phase III will feature "a mix of restaurants/retail/apartments, possibly including senior affordable housing" and that Fuqua plans to file a land use plan tomorrow, January 7.

Fuqua Development will host a community meeting at 7 p.m. on January 6, 2016 at the North Decatur United Methodist Church (1523 Church St., Decatur). MANA will attend this meeting and will report on it asap. If you are able to attend and have additional feedback following the presentation, please share it with us at medlockassoc@gmail.com.
Visualization of nearby developments. Phase I and II of Fuqua's developments are visible along the Scott Blvd. corridor. Phase III is located in the area partially covered by the legend in the above image.
See our previous posts for details on approved plans for Phase I and Phase II. Or click here for all our posts about this evolving redevelopment at the very heart of the Medline LCI study area.
The Atlanta Regional Commission's Medline LCI vision plan, as presented to the community on June, 2014.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Atlanta Region's Plan -- seeking input


This plan will become a blueprint for the next 25 years of development in the Atlanta area. Visit the website at http://atlantaregionsplan.com/ to learn more and add your feedback! The comment period ends on January 15, 2016.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Friends of Medlock Park meeting [Jan 9]

from Casey Boudreau, MANA Greenspace Coordinator

Dear Medlock Park neighbors and Park users:

There will be a Friends of Medlock Park meeting this Sat, Jan 9 from 9 am – 11am at the DHYS clubhouse in Medlock Park. The Friends group works with the Parks Dept of DeKalb County on improvements to Medlock Park, agenda items will include proposed projects to the existing Park and next steps for the vacant lots on Scott Circle. Please try to come to the meeting and learn how you can be more involved with this wonderful greenspace! We will also provide regular updates about meetings and projects on this site so please check here for more information.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Advertise in Medlock Matters! [deadline: Jan 15]

Effective 2016, MANA's newsletter will be produced and distributed by KDA Communications. KDA handles newsletters for a variety of organizations and neighborhoods such as Druid Hills and Candler Park.

MANA volunteers will continue to provide content but will no longer deliver the newsletter door to door (we are switching to US Mail delivery). The newsletter will reach 1400 households and will be issued three times a year in February, June and October.

Deadlines for ads are January 15, May 7 and September 7, 2016. Please visit our business directory for additional information on how to advertise in Medlock Matters