From the Mayor

Tucker High School crossing with path.

We’ve made a lot of progress here in the City of Tucker both recently and since we incorporated as a city in 2016. I often talk with community groups about that progress and I try to emphasize that it’s about getting a good result, but that getting the process right can be even more important. As the government, we have to consider and protect the rights and interests of all the parties involved, often with special attention to those with the smallest voice, since the loudest usually take care of themselves.

This was a concept I wrote about at length in the March 2020 issue of InTucker. If you recall, there had been a lot of talk in the community about a huge sinkhole on the old Tucker Tire property along Lawrenceville Highway just east of Main Street. It was a sinkhole that started small, but grew exponentially over the course of several years to the point where the business had to relocate and we had to cordon off the property to keep someone from falling in. People were concerned about the aesthetics, they were concerned about safety, and they were concerned about the perception that the City of Tucker had done nothing to fix the problem. In reality, our role was limited, as this sinkhole was on private property and was the subject of lawsuits and legal actions between the property owner, DeKalb County, GDOT, and others. Eventually, we were able to use our local city code and environmental court to force the property owner to remediate the problem and ultimately fill the sinkhole. Today, you pass by that property and you would never know there was once a sinkhole there. We got the right result because we went through the right process.

Similarly, it’s been slow going in getting our Tucker trail off the ground. In 2019, our City Council approved a Trail Master Plan, calling for more than 30 miles of pedestrian and bike-friendly trails to run through the City and connect to trail networks in neighboring communities. It was an exciting prospect for our future, but we understood clearly that there would be a lengthy process before people were actually walking on a new trail. It was an easy decision that the first leg of the trail would be a natural fit downtown, where it would add to all the other exciting development of sidewalks, streetlights and so on. Accordingly, our staff reached out to roughly 20 property owners along the site of the proposed trail to see about acquiring the property we would need. Some were very small pieces, and others were more significant. Over the last couple of years, some owners have donated or sold us the property, others have given or sold us easements, and some negotiated other improvements in an exchange (to preserve parking or access, for example).

Just within the past month or so, we were able to secure the biggest piece of the trail puzzle: a group of four parcels behind Local 7 that will enable us to get the trail started, and also allow us to have some additional downtown greenspace and parking. The land was owned by the Cofer family, who you likely know from Cofer Brothers, the Tucker Cruise In or Holiday on Main. Before reaching any  agreement, the City of Tucker hired an outside engineering firm to conduct both Phase 1 and Phase 2 Environmental studies, to ensure there was no hazardous condition left there from any previous use of the property. Then we had an independent, third-party appraisal of the property conducted. Meanwhile, the Cofer family had their own appraisal done. All of that took time, and then there was a lot of back and forth about whether we might take a long-term lease on the property, purchase it outright, or enter into some kind of partnership. In the end, all sides agreed a purchase by the City would be best for everyone. We ultimately settled on a sale price of $1.2 million; higher than our appraisal, but lower than theirs. It’s a fair deal for both sides that will allow for some exciting improvements downtown, which has been everyone’s goal. 

With this piece now fit into the puzzle, we move forward. It may be ambitious, but I hope to see ground broken by the end of the year. In 2022, you’re certainly going to see a lot of construction going on parallel to Main Street just behind that row of restaurants. And once that construction wraps up, you’re going to have a walkable path that activates our alleyways and gives new life to our beautiful downtown. 

It didn’t happen overnight, but it is happening. And because we got the process right, the results will be well worth the wait.

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