Avondale Estates commissioners ready to change Development Authority
By Dyana Bagby, contributor
Avondale Estates’ Mayor and Board of Commissioners are looking forward to new appointments to the city’s Downtown Development Authority, hoping “new blood” will re-energize the group.
Other residents who attended the City Commission’s Oct. 21 work session said now is the time for the DDA to be revamped and contribute to creating a downtown that people want to visit.
At the work session, much discussion centered on the DDA although an update on DDA appointments and DDA funding was basically scrapped from the agenda.
Downtown Development Authority member Alan Kirwan told the commissioners that a DDA meeting on Oct. 20 to recommend new members to the city commission was postponed due to a lack of a quorum. Another DDA meeting will be held Oct. 27 to go over recommendations, he said.
There are three vacancies on the board to immediately fill and one more seat will open in January on the DDA, Kirwan said. The DDA is a seven-member board.
Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager said that the DDA has had a particular “mindset” for a number of years.
“They never thought they needed to do stuff,” he said. “And I have friends who have served on the board. They say we use the same agenda we used seven years ago. They use the same agenda every month.
“I believe new blood and new leadership and a new direction is definitely what the DDA needs. This is a great opportunity for the city,” Giager added.
When asked by a local businessman if there was a timeline to roll out the new DDA’s funding, appointments, structure and goals, Mayor Jonathan Elmore answered no.
“There is not a timeline and there should be. I think right now is, step one, we need to pick good DDA candidates. We could have a potential of five out of seven new members,” he said. “Step two, we need to allow that group to gel somewhat, to talk amongst themselves. Initially, I think we should have a lot of joint meetings [between DDA and commissioners].”
Commissioner Lindsay Forlines said the Avondale Estates DDA has been “more informal” than those in many other cities.
“Especially if it’s going to be funded, we need to give them a list of expectations and time frame for what we want done,” she said. If the commission does give money to the DDA, it is crucial the commission state what it expects in return.
And now, with so many new members coming on board, is the perfect time for the commission to give a “very energized set of marching orders,” she added.
Former DDA chairman Robert James and co-chair Megan Grove resigned in September. James, who wanted the city to increase its support of the DDA, said at the time he was tired of waiting for the relationship between the two entities to improve.
Mayor Elmore also gave an update on annexation, noting that any such plans hinge on what happens in the Nov. 3 election when voters in LaVista Hills and Tucker will decide if their areas will become cities.
State Rep. Karla Drenner currently has the city’s annexation plan in the House and new plans have been drawn up that do not include the DeKalb Farmer’s Market, Elmore said.