Tucker City Council discusses reports on finances, park improvement plans

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA  — The Tucker City Council heard reports from the city’s finance director, Discover DeKalb and the Tucker Parks and Recreation department at the council’s work session on Oct. 24.

Finance Director Beverly Ragland said that the city is 25% into the fiscal year and the city’s revenues were either at or above expected amounts. The city is paying for an audit to be conducted, and Ragland said that she would present a report on it once it is complete.

Part of the city’s revenue comes from a hotel tax. Executive Director of Discover DeKalb James Tsismanakis described the organization’s efforts to draw travel to Tucker via Expedia ads, social media, and earned media in publications like Atlanta Eats.

Occupancy for Tucker hotels was at 60% in 2020, and rose to about 70% in 2021 and 2022. Tsismanakis said that post-shutdown, leisure travel rose because people wanted to get out after being forced to stay home, but that normal travel has still not fully resumed.

“Business travel is only now coming back. Meetings are just starting,” Tsismanakis said.

Discover DeKalb is also planning a campaign to promote the third annual Tucker Restaurant Week in early 2023. Tsismanakis said that when promoting individual restaurants, they would highlight what is unique about Tucker.

“Chain restaurants would love for us to promote them, but we try to focus on the individually owned restaurants,” Tsismanakis said.

Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson presented an update on the department’s plans to make improvements to Lord Park, Fitzgerald Field, and the Tucker Recreation Center campus, as well as the final draft of a master plan for a new town green. Tucker’s parks master plan was adopted in 2019 and has been diligently pursued, not without controversy.

At their regular meeting Oct. 10 the city council approved contracts for improvements at Johns Homestead Park and signs for seven other city parks.

Robertson said that his department was currently negotiating with a church across the road from Fitzgerald Field for parking, but would try to have as much parking as possible inside the park. There will be new lighting and sound throughout the park, a maintenance building, and a playground. In response to community feedback, a walking trail will also be added. A water and sewer project for the park is making progress.

“They will start construction next week, and we hope to have it completed by the end of the year,” Robertson said.

Robertson added that the proposed installation of a disc golf course in Ford Park had raised some alarm in the community that the trees in the park would be cut down.

“We are committed to preserving as many trees as possible. In addition, there will be a 75-foot buffer all the way around the park,” Robertson said. “It will remain predominantly wooded.”

There will also be a hiking trail and a stream overlook.

Improvements at the Tucker Recreation Center will include pickleball courts in a currently underused field to help accommodate the rapidly expanding popularity of the sport. Additionally, areas for sand volleyball, bocce ball, and additional parking will be added.

The final draft of the design for a town green includes a stage, a walking path, green space, a terraced area with tables and chairs, public restrooms, and passive water features.

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