As your District 8 Council member, I want to stay in touch and keep you informed. Thus, here is the second of our monthly newsletters. I want you to understand the thinking behind council decisions to return deeds to the Atlanta Public Schools and to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent misdemeanor charges.
We take a look at security cameras, give you a heads-up on major construction in Chastain Park and celebrate the start of a new youth baseball season.
In turn, I want to hear from you. You can reach me at jpmatzigkeit@AtlantaGa.Gov or (404) 330-6051. What needs fixing? What is the city doing right and, of course, what is it doing wrong? Information and knowledge are at the heart of a vibrant democracy.
In This Newsletter
Chastain Park: A Flurry of Construction
Security Cameras & Licence Plate Readers
We Got it Done
City Council has taken up three important legislative issues since the start of the new year. On January 16, I co-sponsored legislation authorizing the mayor to release deeds to the Atlanta Public School properties that the city still holds. City Council approved the legislation on February 19 and Mayor Bottoms signed it February 20. After the City and APS split in the 1970’s, the city retained legal ownership of several school sites and properties. The deed transfer will give APS autonomy over its land sales, trades and purchases. This has been an area of contention for too long, and I was eager to help resolve the issue with hope that it will lead to further cooperation between APS and the City.
City Council also voted 13-0 on February 5 to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent misdemeanor charges. Cash bail can unfairly punish the poor and an individual’s financial status should not determine the time spent in jail, critics of the existing system contend. While in jail, defendants can lose their jobs and miss other day to day responsibilities.
The new guidelines direct the Chief of Corrections and his or her representatives to release individuals charged with non-violent misdemeanors on a signature bond from the Atlanta City Detention Center. A signature bond is a promise to show up at a court hearing. It does not require cash collateral. The new directive allows the city to require cash bail for repeat offenders, violent offenders and individuals who fail to appear for their court hearing. Mayor Bottoms signed the ordinance on February 6, and the law will go into effect March 8.
Lastly, city departments have reviewed the Collier Hills transportation study, and I have introduced legislation to incorporate it into the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan and the Connect Atlanta Plan. Council will review the legislation and I anticipate a smooth approval process. My office will work with neighborhood representatives and appropriate city departments to prioritize recommended projects for implementation. The study, funded by the neighborhood associations and this office, aims to make area streets safer and easier to navigate.
Seventy-three-year-old Chastain Amphitheatre begins its 2018 season with a $5-million makeover. Work has been underway since November and includes a heightened stage, new bathrooms, improved catering and concession facilities, an expanded VIP area and a new courtyard. Accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act will also be improved.
‘We’ve done no meaningful renovation in 20 years,’ said Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, which books acts and manages the facility and is paying for the improvements. In a 2017 interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Conlon said, ‘We were getting more artists who didn’t want to play because of production challenges. It’s all about lighting systems.’
The Amphitheatre work is to be done in time for this season, which starts in June, according to the Live Nation website. The height of the stage will be raised six feet. As patrons look at the stage, the area to the left is where the new bathrooms, catering area and concession stand will go. Bathrooms and the concession area near Gate 1 and the box office are unaffected. They were updated about a decade ago. Seats in the bowl of the 6,500-capacity venue will not be affected, but boxes that flank the tables on the floor will be upgraded.
The Amphitheatre will not be the only construction site in the park this year. Two major street projects are also planned, each funded with Renew Atlanta taxpayer-approved dollars.
An architect’s drawing shows the new concession and catering area at the Amphitheatre.
The aging Powers Ferry Road bridge over Nancy Creek needs to be replaced. Bids are being sought for what originally was thought to be a one-year construction project. The goal is to get the work done in half that time, beginning in the fall and concluding six months later. Vehicular and pedestrian detours will be required and the city and the Chastain Park Conservancy will work together to keep people informed and to minimize disruption.
The Conservancy and the city are also working on a plan to widen the narrow West Wieuca sidewalk that runs from Powers Ferry to Lake Forrest Drive. This would bring the walking and running trail that rings the park and is known as the PATH up to the standards of the Lake Forrest and Powers Ferry segments. The Conservancy, relying on the PATH Foundation, has worked with the tennis center, the swimming pool, the golf course, Galloway School, Chastain Horse Park, the arts center, NYO and the Chastain Park Civic Association to accommodate their needs.
The Conservancy estimates that 2 million visitors come to the 268-acre park each year. It also hopes to install two large city-funded shade structures at the playground. The tot play area and the two giant parallel slides will benefit.
Security Cameras, Licence Plate Readers Cut Crime
Criminals know the blue lights beneath surveillance cameras mean someone may be watching. And that has led to 20%-plus reductions in property crimes where cameras have been installed, according to Major John Quigley, of the Atlanta Police Department’s Strategic and Special Projects Division.
‘I know cameras deter crime because criminals tell you they do,’ Quigley told a recent meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. Citywide, there are 10,000 security cameras tied into APD’s Operation Shield Video Integration Center, or VIC, Quigley said. Many are owned by businesses.
Some 720 belong to the APD, which relies heavily on the non-profit Atlanta Police Foundation to buy the cameras. Of the 720, according to Quigley, in District 8 there are 122 cameras that can store up to 14 days of video and 90 that can read license plate tags. Cameras cost $13,500; license plate readers $14,500, according to the Police Foundation.
The license readers can send near-instant alerts to the VIC when the tag of a stolen car is spotted. Because stolen vehicles are often used by criminals, an alert may prevent additional crimes such as burglaries.
The VIC is located next to the 911 emergency-call center. Operators of the two units work in tandem. Nearby cameras can be rewound to show police what unfolded moments before a 911 call was received. License readers provide a vehicle’s tag, which adds to authorities’ ability to track it.
Police say when they are able to track vehicles arrests get made. In 2017, four children were in a vehicle that was carjacked. The VIC provided constant surveillance and a license plate reader led police to the suspect and the vehicle. The children were unharmed.
The Buckhead Community Improvement District, a self-taxing association of businesses, has been among the strongest supporters of the cameras. In early 2017, it provided $705,000 to buy 20 cameras and 30 license plate readers.
Yolanda Adrean, my predecessor as District 8 representative, used $500,000 she accumulated over her tenure from her budget to match the mayor’s office, private donors and neighborhood groups in acquiring 50 security cameras for the district.
APD Major Quigley said camera funding this year will go to areas downtown and near the Mercedes Benz Stadium as the 2019 Super Bowl comes to Atlanta.
Individuals and members of neighborhood associations can fund additional cameras through the Police Foundation and receive a tax-deduction since the foundation is a 501c3 non-profit.
ATL 311 is Atlanta’s phone number and one-stop shop for customer service and non-emergency services. It should be your first point of contact for any questions or concerns regarding basic city services. Atlanta launched the service in October 2014 with financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Since its start, the service has grown to a staff of 116 full-time employees.
Atlanta residents can call ATL311 by dialing 3-1-1 or 404-546-0311, Monday - Friday, 7 a.m - 8 p.m. Operators answer questions about city services, put in work orders for public services like potholes and leaks and help with personal issues such as trash collection, recycling, and water bills. ATL311 receives an average of 34,000 calls each month. Eighty percent of the calls are related to Public Works and Watershed issues such as water leaks, potholes, trash collection, yard trimmings and recycling. 311 has operators who speak English and Spanish, and it uses Language Service Associates, a telephone interpreting company, for other languages.
In addition, 311 has a website, ATL311.com, where residents can learn about Atlanta’s city services, report problems and make online payments for services like water/sewer, parking tickets and court tickets. ATL311 also has Facebook(@ATL311/), Twitter(@COA311) and Instagram(@ATL311) accounts that provide city information, service updates and other tips. 311 is also developing a mobile application to improve accessibility and ease of use. We will keep you updated on all ATL311 news, changes, and information regarding the mobile application.
For nearly 70 years boys have played Buckhead Baseball at Frankie Allen Park. For 50-plus years NYO Baseball has called Chastain Park home. In the early 1970s, NYO introduced slow-pitch softball for girls, switching to fastpitch in 1992. Tens of thousands of boys and girls have come through the two recreational programs.
On Saturday morning, March 24, the tradition continues. Each program will hold Opening Day ceremonies, which include parades for the younger ballplayers. Buckhead’s program begins at 9 a.m.; NYO’s at 11. I plan to attend each.
Although the two parks have been busy with tryouts and practices, March 24 marks the official start of each program’s season. In addition to the parade, there are speeches, festivities and the ceremonial first pitch. Parking, as always, will be at a premium, but you’ll see the sport at its purest.
Frankie Allen Park is in the heart of Buckhead, on the corner of Bagley Avenue and 425 Pharr Road. NYO’s entrance is at 140 West Wieuca Road, in Chastain Park.
NYO has 1,500 baseball players and 500 fastpitch participants. Buckhead numbers are equally impressive. Children begin playing as young as 4 in both baseball programs and continue to age 14 at NYO. Fastpitch players range in age from 5 to 18. Both programs continue until late May.
NYO Fastpitch softballers lead the 2017 parade at Chastain Park
March 13 - Northside Bridge Information Session
Georgia Department Of Transportation will host an information session on the upcoming Northside Bridge construction. The session will be at Northside Methodist Church from 5:00-7:00 pm.
March 17 - Shamrock ‘n Roll 5k & 10k
Atlantic Station will host the Junior League of Atlanta “Shamrock ‘n Roll 5K & 10K on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 in the Central Park area.
For any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call JLA Headquarters at 404-261-7799. Funds raised support the mission of The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.
March 30 - First Day of Passover
April 1 - Easter
If you would like us to include an event in a future newsletter, email Council Aide, Seth Moskowitz, at skmoskowitz@AtlantaGa.Gov. Please include the event name, a description of the event, the date & time of the event, and contact information.
Along with the Department of Watershed Management, we completed and scheduled road repairs on Springlake Drive Rd., Northcliffe, Valley Road NW and West Andrews.
With the Georgia Department of Transportation, we helped install semi- truck restriction signs at Moore’s Mill and I-75 to reduce truck cut-through traffic.
J.P. Matzigkeit - District 8 Councilman
Katie Howard - Chief of Staff, Senior Policy Advisor
Jim Elgar - Senior Policy Advisor, Community Affairs
Seth Moskowitz - Council Aide
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