Mayor says in state of city address Tucker has prospered despite obstacles

FILE PHOTO USED FOR The Hugh Howell Market Place construction site at the corner of Hugh Howell Road and Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Tucker on Feb. 7, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Tucker Mayor Frank Auman delivered a State of the City address on July 1, listing the city’s accomplishments in recreation, economics and infrastructure. Auman said after months of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is operating swimming pools at full capacity, kids are returning to summer camp and Main Street is prepared for a celebration of Independence Day on July 3. 

“We have flown far and fast this past year, despite mountainous obstacles and strong headwinds,” Auman said. 

During the past year, Tucker Parks and Recreation offered youth and adult sports and held adult field day and holiday-centered events. Peters Park received the biggest set of play equipment in the city with adult workout equipment and a walking path. Tucker’s first dog park also opened this year. 

After the death of a council member, Smoke Rise Bath and Racquet Club was renamed Bill Rosenfeld Park. 

“We lost Bill as a friend, a founding member of our city council, a neighbor and a leading business man back in January, and this is our way of ensuring that his memory and his example live on,” Auman said.  

Tucker Rec Center hosted four movie and TV productions in the last year, generating revenue and publicity for the Parks and Rec Department. 

Peter’s Park neighborhood received gateway and street signage, and remediation of “dangerously dilapidated property,” Auman said. The junk car lot next to the railroad tracks downtown was also abated by the city’s planning and zoning efforts.  

Tucker has rebuilt or repaved 16 miles of roads, completed traffic signal projects at Brockett Road, Cooledge Road and U.S. 78, and Chamblee Tucker Road and Livesey Road, and planned a new traffic light at Flintstone by the new Smoke Rise Elementary School. New sidewalks were installed all over the city. 

Tucker City Hall moved to Lakeside Parkway during the pandemic, where staff has “worked hard to make sure those courts operate efficiently throughout the pandemic,” Auman said.

“All the work that I’ve mentioned so far leans toward the overarching purpose of the city, which is what we call community and economic development,” he said. “Economic development is the culmination of everything we do. It results in the tangible visible improvements to the community and to our quality of life. It’s new employers, new businesses, new housing of all kinds and all the things that cause people to want to come and stay in Tucker. It’s what I mean when I talk about being in a place where a person can live, work, play and pray for the length and breadth of their lives.”

Economic development successes include Emory Healthcare’s new facility that will house 2,000 employees at a 250,000 sq. ft. facility at Northlake Mall; a Publix-anchored shopping center at Hugh Howell Road and Mountain Industrial Boulevard; and a dozen business that relocated or added facilities in Tucker. Auman said 402 new business licenses have been issued since May 2020. 

Auman approximated 315 townhomes, 235 multifamily units and 239 single family homes are in development in Tucker, both rental and owner-occupied. 

Fiscally, Tucker is projecting about $27 million in total revenues for the coming year and about $29 million in spending. The city has $9 million in reserves, and plans to use $2 million to make up the difference in spending. The big-ticket spending items are: 

– $10 million to run the city, from city staff salaries to office space.  

– $8.3 million for rebuilding and resurfacing about another 15 miles of roads in Tucker and two major projects on Chamblee Tucker Road and Rosser Road. 

– $1.7 million for improvements of parks, including Fitzgerald Field and Rosenfeld Park. 

– $1.8 million on trails and sidewalks. 

“We have been very prudent in these early years of our life as a city,” Auman said, adding the city’s finance director forecasted sharply reduced revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic. “… a large reserve is not the purpose of government. Our job is to deliver the services we are required and authorized to provide.” 

Tucker received $4.1 million in CARES Act funding last fall, and distributed it to small businesses, residents in need of mortgage, rent and utilities assistance, virtual learning and public health. 

Auman said he is proud of elected and appointed leaders and city staff for protecting the physical health of Tucker’s citizens and the mental health and financial wellbeing. 

“The pandemic was incredibly difficult, and many people suffered greatly, but where the result of this pandemic could have been widespread devastation that took years to recover from, Tucker is already prospering again,” he said.

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