Clarkston discusses plan to add social worker to police department staff

Clarkston City Hall and Police Department. Photo by Dean Hesse

Clarkston, GA — The Clarkston city council at its Sept. 27 work session discussed adding a social worker to the Clarkston Police Department. The social worker would be on call to diffuse or address mental health crises or other situations where a social worker’s intervention would be useful.

Clarkston Chief of Police Chriss Hudson said that most metro area police departments are adding social workers and that she planned to consult the Decatur police chief.

“I think this is a good idea. I really do,” said Hudson.

Vice Mayor Awet Eyasu asked if the city required a full-time social worker. Other members of the council, including Laura Hopkins, said that they were more concerned that one full-time social worker might not be enough.

“Right now, what we have is all the police are acting as social workers because they are the ones having to jump in,” said Hopkins.

The addition of a social worker to police department staff will be on the consent agenda at the city council’s October business meeting.

In other business:

— The council discussed providing additional funds to the calisthenic equipment, park maintenance and upgrade projects for the installation of a poured stone base and rubber surface for $17,275.  Another $6,000 would go for a proposed shade structure or canopy.

Public Works Director Rodney Beck stated that the pour-in-place rubber surface would be equivalent to mulch over the life of the material and has advantages including easier access for wheelchairs.

Hopkins said that the project is bigger than she was originally envisioning, and that she felt that the city needs to hire a parks director before making long-term decisions.

Councilmember Susan Hood agreed that the project was much bigger than she imagined and would like to see more extensive plans.

Eyasu said that the project was already approved and if the council doesn’t like the additions they can be removed, but he does not want to see the project delayed.

The additional funds will be a discussion item on the agenda for the city council’s October business meeting.

— A sign and façade refurbishment program for business properties located in Clarkston’s town center has been under discussion by the city council for some time. The city plans to fund the program through the American Rescue Plan.

Resident Brian Medford said that the process of building a new multi use facility at the Mustang warehouse location is already under way. Medford said that it’s a good time to refurbish downtown as a whole, to bring buildings up to code and create an inviting location for new businesses to come into spaces that are currently empty and also into the new facility being built.

“This needs to be done, and there needs to be found some way to do it,” said Medford.

— The city council discussed a variance request from Doug Steverson and Rajen Sheth of Boardwalk Development Group for the properties located at 795, 801 and 803 Glendale Road to reduce parking requirements and possibly reduce the landscape buffer from 50’ to 10’ to construct a storage facility. A public hearing will be held Oct. 4, 2022.

— The council also discussed reopening the rental assistance program, allocating $250,000 from ARPA funds for three months.

— The city plans to issue proclamations for Energy Efficiency Day on Oct. 5, National Hispanic Heritage Month; Sept. 15 – Oct. 15, and Congo Week; Oct. 16-22. Those items will be on the consent agenda for the October regular meeting.

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