Clarkston City Council plans to resume in-person meetings soon

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA — After months of meeting virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Clarkston’s City Council tentatively plans to hold its first in-person meeting on July 27.

City Manager Robin Gomez discussed the city’s plans at the City Council’s May 25 work session.

“The COVID-19 data has shown improvements,” Gomez said.  “The positivity rate has declined. Half of our city staff has been vaccinated. We will still have that Zoom functionality.”

Gomez said the city council chambers at City Hall, located at 3921 Church Street, will receive audio and video upgrades in late July to improve its audiovisual capabilities and provide Zoom access. The city will continue to live stream its City Council meetings.

“Our plan is to resume in person meetings with our July 27 council work session, but it will depend on the A/V upgrade work which should be completed in time to have our Aug. 5 council meeting in person,” Gomez said.

If the work is completed sooner, the first in-person meeting would occur at the July 27 work session, he said.

People who do not feel comfortable attending the meeting in person won’t have to, Gomez said.

“Council members and city staff also will not be required to attend in person,” Gomez said. “They will be able to attend via Zoom if they prefer. I will attend in person as well as the police chief or assistant police chief.”

Councilmember Ahmed Hassan questioned whether it’s the right time to return and said the proposal “comes out of the blue.”

He said, “My basic issue was, is it time? Are we all OK? Is the CDC allowing all the offices to go back and do business as usual?”

Hassan said the City Council meets in an older building that’s poorly ventilated. Many of the people who attend are elderly.

He said not everyone is transparent about whether they are sick or if they’ve been vaccinated.

“There’s a lot of people, they get sick and they hide,” Hassan said. “Some of them refuse to get vaccinated. There’s a lot of issues.”

The City Council at its May 25 meeting discussed several items that will appear on the June 2 City Council meeting agenda.

At that meeting, the City Council will consider:

– Adopting an animal control ordinance.

Gomez said, “We found that our animal control ordinance simply referenced that we adopted the county animal control ordinance, which is fine. In the two years, four months I’ve been here, we’ve not had any issues communicated to us. However, it is likely better policy and certainly my recommendation that we adopt our own, that’s specific to the city of Clarkston.”

Gomez said the proposed ordinance borrows language from other ordinances and “codifies what the responsibilities are” for anyone who has a pet. In addition to regulating how the city deal with vicious animals, it recommends the city participate in a program to trap and neuter or spay feral cat colonies.

“I’ve never received any calls about colonies of cats kind of out and about,” Gomez said. “I do see what appear to be loose cats every now and then, but again nothing that has led to a level of people with concerns.”

The city typically get calls about dogs and those calls are usually about people failing to properly dispose of dog feces.

Councilmember Awet Eyasu recommended changing the language of the ordinance. He said the term “owner” should be changed to “caretaker” or “guardian.”

– The council plans to continue talking about the funding it will receive from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Clarkston will receive approximately $4 million. The council will need to decide how it wants to spend this money.

Under federal guidelines, the money may be used to help everyone affected by the COVID-19 emergency and its public health impacts, which includes providing money to households, small businesses and nonprofits; workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency; governments that have lost revenue due to COVID-19; and investing in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

– The council will discuss a proposal to install solar panels at Milam Park.

– The council will discuss installing electric vehicle charging stations in the city. The city intends to work with Georgia Power, which has launched a pilot program to help cities install these charging stations. The city will follow up with Georgia Power next week to discuss the details.

– The council will consider approving a Juneteenth Day proclamation and the city plans to hold a small event this year. More details will be published when they are available. City Council also is considering an LGBTQ Month proclamation and a World Refugee Day proclamation.

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