GPNA Monthly Meeting Minutes

GPNA Meeting Minutes - 2007, March 20

GPNA Minutes, March 20, 2007
By Karen Greene, secretary

Phil Cuthbertson, president of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA), called the monthly meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. He reviewed meeting conduct and voting eligibility. Cuthbertson requested that individuals who address the group state their full name and address. He then invited new members to introduce themselves and reminded all to sign in.
Cuthbertson paid tribute to Ben Teasley, a long-time Grant Park resident who passed away March 13, 2007. Teasley held several positions, including president, with GPNA and was active in the early stages of forming the organization. Cuthbertson added that Teasley’s widow, Jeanne, plans to maintain Grant Park Home Services, a home remodeling and renovation company, and invited residents to continue to do business with the firm. He added that a donation of $200 from GPNA was contributed toward flowers for the memorial service.
Next Cuthbertson asked members to attend the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) monthly meetings on a regular basis. The city, he explained, has designated 26 NPUs across Atlanta; NPU-W represents the Grant Park, East Atlanta, and Ormewood Park areas. There are eight NPU-W representatives from Grant Park. He said that issues, such as zoning, public safety and transportation, come up for vote at NPU-W before continuing on to city hall. To be eligible to vote, an area resident must have attended three NPU-W meetings within a 12-month period. He encouraged residents to become eligible to vote at NPU-W to support issues that come out of GPNA that continue on to city hall. Monthly meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the East Atlanta library.
Public Officials
Atlanta Police Department (APD) Maj. Finley reported 11 vehicle larcenies and eight auto thefts for the month of February, adding that numbers for this year were down from 2006. He said there were a few incidents reported at Grant Park Place and Mead and Hill streets, adding that additional patrols are sent to areas experiencing spikes in criminal activity. He acknowledged speeding, especially during morning commuter traffic, on several area roads, and said the department is taking steps to address this issue, including additional units to the affected areas, when available, to assist neighborhood patrol Officer Jim Hodge. Responding to questions regarding incidents in the park, Finley reminded residents to call 911 to record and track incidents, and invited all to call his mobile phone at 404-538-4650. He explained that if a number of incidents are reported to 911, the police will sweep the park for offenders
Chris Newman, Public Safety committee chairman, introduced Janie Foy, membership coordinator with the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), a citizen group promoting dialogue and collaboration between APD and the community. Foy stated the group’s goal is to promote a safer city. She explained that most support for the 501(c)3 organization comes from corporate sponsorship, and added that funding is being expanded to include residents and small businesses. The foundation, she explained, focuses on six areas: recruitment, mounted patrol, housing for police officers, Crime Stoppers, scholarships and training, and the Atlanta Security Council, a roundtable of corporate security executives, government officials and community representatives who work with the APD to solve common safety and security concerns.
Foy noted that Atlanta, up until this year, was the only major American city not to sponsor a Crime Stoppers program. The anonymous tip line, launched January 2007, has already resulted in three arrests. She said APF was responsible for re-establishing the mounted patrol unit in Grant Park with its adopt-a-horse program. APF has issued $27,000 for scholarship and continuing education programs for police officers. They are active in locating affordable inner-city quarters for officers who are interested in living within the city limits. To make a donation or for more information, she encouraged residents to log on to www.atlantapolicefoundation.org.
Lt. Mitch Austin from fire station number 10, announced the fire department’s “spring tour of hydrants” and urged residents to contact the firehouse for any hydrants needing repairs. He also spoke of the department’s smoke detector installation program and asked anyone who would like a smoke detector installed to call the station at 404-853-4410 to schedule an appointment (there is an approximate two-week turnaround time). Austin noted that with the resignation of Atlanta’s fire department chief a nationwide search is ongoing for a replacement. Responding to a question regarding colors of hydrants, he explained that silver, yellow and green correspond to pipe sizes, from smallest to largest respectively, with red signifying private ownership.
Officer Reports
Cuthbertson announced that copies of the February meeting minutes as well as an updated treasurer’s report were on the back table for review. He explained that treasurer Michelle Botwinick was not able to attend the meeting due to income tax deadlines. Cuthbertson pointed out that GPNA’s fund balance is $37, 822.55 in the black for 2007, with income from the business directory reported; printing and distribution expenses, he explained, will be forthcoming. Last year’s expenditures, he noted, were around $8,000; currently revenue for the directory tops over $9,000. With layout and design complete, Cuthbertson said printing was scheduled for later this week with distribution planned for the weekend of March 31/April 1. Workers are needed to distribute the directories to approximately 2500 homes. Workers will be paid $10 per hour and treated to lunch at Grant Central Pizza on that Saturday. Interested personnel should call him at 404-521-0938.
There was no report from Lauren Rocerta, vice president. Secretary Karen Greene noted the February minutes were on the back table for review. She announced plans to produce an electronic newsletter, in conjunction with the GPNA Web site, highlighting upcoming neighborhood events. She encouraged residents to sign up at the Web site at www.gpna.org, where they will be prompted to enter an email address to sign up for the newsletter. She asked those wishing to submit information for publication to email gpnasecretary@comcast.net.
Cuthbertson introduced Paula Jessup who announced restaurant dine-outs on Tuesday March 27 at Six Feet Under (all day) and Thursday April 19 at Grant Central and Grant Central East from 5 to 9 p.m. and all day at Dakota Blue. A percentage of the proceeds will go to support Grant Park baseball.
Committee Reports
• Public Safety: Chair Chris Newman announced a change in the monthly joint GPNA-NPU-W public safety meetings to the third Monday of the month. Time and place remain unchanged at 7 p.m. in the East Atlanta library. He reported there were no new Grant Park offenders participating in the District 1 Community Restorative Board, a program providing guidance to youthful offenders completing community service in lieu of jail time. Volunteers sign up to coach first-time non-violent offenders from their neighborhoods. With the advent of baseball season, Newman reminded residents to exercise caution when walking to and from Braves games. Responding to a question from the floor, he said he would publish alternate traffic routes avoiding Turner field during home games.
Newman said the meeting of the Grant Park Security Patrol (GPSP) will be held this Sunday at 3 p.m. at 383 Augusta Avenue. On behalf of GPSP, he thanked GPNA for funding additional patrols. He noted studies show that 90% of speeders caught in the area live in the surrounding neighborhood.
The next Public Safety committee meeting will be held April 16 (third Monday of the month) at 7 p.m. at the East Atlanta library.
• Education & Children: Chair Adelee LeGrand announced that the Grant Park Parent Network (GPPN) is now an ad hoc committee of the Education & Children’s committee, much like the Friends of Grant Park Pool (FGPP) is to the Parks & Recreation Committee. She reported that committee members have been working with neighborhood elementary schools over the past years to elevate the standards of the public schools. Parkside Elementary and the Neighborhood Charter School have met all expectations, she said, and are improving every year. The committee’s current project is targeted at elevating the neighborhood’s middle schools. When people canvass an area to move to and live in, she explained, they look at the grades of neighborhood schools, adding that collectively Grant Park “does not have good numbers.”
LeGrand noted that Martin Luther King Middle School is the committee’s next project. She toured the school and reported that the facilities are excellent ? the school possesses an Olympic-size pool, a dance room complete with mirrored walls and bar, audio-visual equipment and a pottery area with kilns and firing equipment. She introduced Kecia Ellick, a parent liaison with MLK Middle School. Ellick reported that the pool has been closed for two years and other facilities, such as the pottery area, go unutilized. A volunteer has been found to train students on the audio-visual equipment. But she called for more resources from the neighborhood – musicians, visual artist and dancers – to expose the kids to the arts, give them a sense of pride in themselves and the community, and nurture their development. She charged that the school is the recipient of students from surrounding areas who have behavioral problems, and that the administration is focused on grades and curtailing behavioral issues. Working with the principal, she has approval to paint a mural “for school pride” and hopes to host an arts festival in the future. Volunteers should contact Ellick by phone at 404-935-1503 or via email at KeciaEllick@gmail.com.
LeGrand announced the opening of a new neighborhood school – Imagine School – for grades K though 8 at the end of July. The school will follow a 12-month international program and will teach two languages – English and Chinese. She reminded residents of the GPPN’s annual Spring Fling Saturday, April 14 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. in the park. Festivities include a traditional egg hunt, face painting, musicians, a hot dog stand and bake sale.
• Fundraising: Chair Ann Floyd said she would like additional volunteers to form two committees to operate the annual Tour of Homes and Mothball events. She is soliciting volunteers to help find houses for the tour as well as creative writers and graphic artists. She reported a total of $10,500 collected for the business directory. The next meeting will be held April 4 at 7 p.m. at 307 St. Paul Avenue. For additional information, please contact Ann at 404-277-1900 or annf@chiefcontainer.com.
• Land Use & Zoning: Rick Hudson, chair, presented an update of the neighborhood’s first approved commercial node located at the corner of Confederate and Ormewood avenues. Since last month’s GPNA approval, the zoning will proceed to the Zoning Review Board before final vote before Atlanta City Council. The church across the street from the proposed restaurant has authorized a letter of their approval and they have contracted with the new owners to share parking facilities.
The second neighborhood commercial node located at Grant and Ormond streets is on the agenda, along with Beltline updates, for the next LUZ meeting to be held April 5 (first Thursday of the month) at 7 p.m. in the ARC building at Zoo Atlanta.
• Parks & Recreation: Chair Nancy Mau reported that the Park Safety Committee, a partnership with the Grant Park Conservancy and GPNA, will meet the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Conservancy on Broyles Street. Agenda items include a designated off-leash dog area in the park, dog waste pickup and discussion of park ordinances. She said a survey for neighborhood input will be forthcoming and stressed the importance of following protocol in reporting park incidents for proper recording. The procedure for complaints, she continued, is to first call 911 to document the call, then (optionally) call the Zone 3 precinct and let them know you called 911. Finally, she noted that residents can call Maj. Finley if there has been no response. The procedures will be posted on the GPNA Web site (www.gpna.org) in the future.
Mau announced several important upcoming meetings. She urged residents to attend a meeting sponsored by the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs seeking input for proposed renovations to the recreation center building at Grant Park. The meeting will be held at the recreation center from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday March 21. Alvin Dodson, representing the city, will display a charrette of the park and will collect neighborhood input. Suggestions, she added, include windows, a rooftop restaurant and a fitness facility with membership fees. Responding to questions concerning garbage cans in the park, she asked that people email their concerns to her; the email address can be found at www.gpna.org.
Mau urged members to attend upcoming Beltline meetings for public input. The first Beltline Study Group meeting for the sub-area that includes Grant Park will be held March 29 at 7 p.m. in the Boys and Girls club at 790 Berne Street. A charrette of the proposed Beltline will be presented and neighborhood input is welcomed. Quarterly updates convened by Atlanta Beltline, Inc. are scheduled for April 13, August 9 and October 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the old City Council Chambers in Atlanta City Hall, 68 Mitchell Street.
Cuthbertson responded to a question regarding commercial usage of the park and the recent filming of a Chevrolet advertisement which debuted on television during the Super Bowl. He explained that a valid permit must be obtained for any event in the park and the minimal fees charged by the city go into the city’s general fund, with no money coming back to the park. He added that Chevrolet made a $750 donation to the Grant Park Conservancy and he will work to increase such donations for similar groups. The Conservancy can ask but not require a donation.
• Transportation Committee: John Liebl, chairperson, pointed out the new sidewalks on the west side of Cherokee Avenue, noting that the renovation is conforming to the use of historic brick and the herringbone pattern. A planting strip for dogwood and/or crepe myrtle trees is also underway and a sample can be seen at 909 Cherokee. Cuthbertson added that the city has taken old cobblestones, excavated when trenching for water lines, to a landfill when they could be used to build a wall in Grant Park. He asked that citizens contact him when they witness similar actions.
Responding to a question regarding sidewalk repair, Liebl noted that the city is not responsible for work done by private citizens and will not respond to damage created by private contractors. Another resident asked about regulations concerning long-term parking on city streets, complaining about an RV parked for a year at the corner of St. Paul Avenue and Broyles Street. Liebl suggested residents call Code Enforcement at 404-33-06190. Another resident noted that the city is using asphalt to repair brick and cement sidewalks being ripped up for new water meter installation. Liebl promised to look into the situation. Another member reported the number 32 bus driving down Sydney Street when I-20 traffic backs up; Adelee LeGrand volunteered to investigate and report back. A member noted that sidewalks are being torn up on Boulevard to make way for new plantings by Trees Atlanta. Responding to a question concerning bike lanes to be implemented by the city, Liebl replied that he is working with Rick Hudson on amendments to the historic regulations, which were approved at last month’s GPNA meeting, to present to city council representative Carla Smith.
The next transportation committee meeting will be held March 27 (fourth Tuesday) at 7 p.m. in room 209 at the Georgia-Hill Community building.
Old Business
A motion was entered and seconded to approve the February meeting minutes. They were approved with one correction to remove the word “Officer” preceding Lt. Finley.
New Business
State senator Nan Orrock reported there are about 10 more legislative days left in the 2007 session with no budget yet approved. She said there is an uphill battle to preserve and fund the state’s healthcare program for children. PeachCare, she explained is a national program funded by Congress which has delayed funding. It’s a simple matter, she said, to allocate monies until Congress reauthorizes funds. Options she opposes include cutting programs and lowering eligibility. When asked about a new regional transportation funding proposal, Orrock noted that the governor of Georgia did not mention one word about transportation in his state of the state speech. A workaround to empower regional transportation is being discussed. She pointed out that although Atlanta brings in more than 50% of the state’s revenue, state government is not committed to the city, adding that state funding should be given to Grady Hospital, to the “brain train” between Atlanta and Athens as well as other projects.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:12 p.m.
The next GPNA meeting will be held April 17 (third Tuesday each month) at 7:30 p.m. in room 316 of the Georgia-Hill Community building.

NOTE: These minutes are subject to the approval of the GPNA membership.