Photo by David Douglas
Designs on downtown
The City of Suwanee will officially kick off its second update to the Downtown Master Plan at a community meeting at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Originally adopted in 2002 and last updated in 2009, the Downtown Master Plan provided the foundation for development of Town Center.
This Downtown Master Plan update, which will include a market analysis, design charrette for targeted areas, and other opportunities for public input, is intended to determine the kinds of development that will be appropriate for downtown and to position the City to be eligible for grant funds related to transportation projects associated with future development.
"The original Downtown Master Plan," says Planning Director Josh Campbell, "was one of the biggest factors in transforming Suwanee into what it is today. Hopefully, this update will have similar transformative effects. As the economy is picking up, we anticipate significant development opportunities over the next several years. Downtown Suwanee is by no means a finished product, and we're looking forward to broadly programming additional pedestrian-oriented, mixed uses in the area while respecting the character of what we already have."
In addition to considering specific development opportunities in the downtown area, the plan will focus on transportation, open space, and connectivity. The area in the study covers Town Center and Old Town and includes the entire Downtown Development Authority area.
See a map of downtown area and additional information about the Downtown Master Plan update on the Community/Downtown Master Plan page.
Food, music, fun & more
A total of 48 events, including 19 runs/walks, six Food Truck Fridays, numerous traditional favorites, and several new events, are sprinkled throughout the City of Suwanee's 2015 event calendar.
New events include the Big Cheesy Festival on April 18, Chili Cook-Off on May 2, Melanoma Awareness event on May 31, and Alive! Expo on October 24.
Suwanee's very popular Food Truck Fridays are back the first Friday of the month April-October, with the exception of July. Also back are favorites such as Suwanee Beer Fest on March 14, Woofstock on May 9, Arts in the Park May 16, and Taste of Suwanee October 10.
Broadway in the Park returns to the Town Center stage July 24 and 25 with performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Suwanee Fest will be September 19 and 20.
Here are a few changes to the 2015 events calendar:
- The Suwanee Farmers Market, which opens May 2, will be Saturdays only this year.
- The Memorial Day weekend kick-off event is being reworked and tentatively will be rebranded as Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach.
- All Movies under the Stars presentations – on June 6, July 18, and August 29 – will be double-features.
For the Love of Suwanee
Two messages that author and bottom-up community development guru Peter Kageyama hammers home in his book For the Love of Cities are that little things matter a lot and that creative, innovative, and engaged citizens are essential to producing vibrant, lovable communities. Kageyama will explore these topics and inspire residents to work together to make Suwanee even more loveable when he visits March 23-25.
Kageyama's keynote presentation will be an interactive community workshop, offered from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the George Pierce Park Community Center. All Suwanee residents and businesspeople are invited to attend this free workshop. Please RSVP to email@example.com by March 17 if you plan to attend.
In addition to discussing what people love about Suwanee and strategies for how to increase citizens' emotional engagement with their community, Kageyama will challenge participants to come up with small, inexpensive ideas that will make Suwanee more lovable.
In his 2011 book, Kageyama outlines a city hierarchy, similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that posits that once a community's "basic" needs of function (e.g., potholes are repaired expeditiously) and safety are met, citizens aspire to live in places that provide social interaction, are interesting and unique, and offer meaningfulness.
The season of fresh produce, lovely flowers, and yummy baked goods returns to Suwanee when the City's Farmers Market opens on Saturday, May 2. The market is in search of farmers, herb and flower growers, butchers, bakers, jams and soap makers, and others to participate in its 11th season. Vendor applications are due March 30.
"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, and baked goods."
The Suwanee Farmers Market does not accept arts and crafts, non-licensed products, or produce re-sold from other markets. See additional guidelines.
Vendors who have been part of the Suwanee Farmers Market for less than two years are required to attend the annual Farmers Market meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. In addition, all farmers may be subject to facility inspections by the market manager.
The Suwanee Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May 2-October 3, at Town Center Park. The City of Suwanee will not host Tuesday markets this year.
Put your 'designs' on Suwanee Fest
Your creativity + Suwanee Fest could = $500!
The winning creator of the 2015 Suwanee Fest theme logo, which will be used on official festival t-shirts and marketing posters, will receive $500. The theme for the 2015 festival, to be celebrated September 19 and 20, will be "For the love of Suwanee."
The competition is open to professional and amateur designers of all ages. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Entries should be submitted in printed and electronic format. The deadline for submission is May 1. See guidelines for additional information and an entry form.
Suwanee Fest is the community's annual two-day fall celebration. The award-winning festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended the festival at Town Center Park. For more information, visit the Suwanee Fest website.
Google: Suwanee is 2014 eCity
Google has announced that the City of Suwanee is Georgia's 2014 eCity and one of the country's digital capitals. This designation from the global technology company recognizes Suwanee as having the strongest online business community in the state.
"We're thrilled," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, "and if I could speak in emoticons, I'd add several of those to this statement. More seriously, I'm very proud of our connected, forward-thinking, and engaged community. Like many of our businesses, the City of Suwanee has worked hard to keep pace with electronic technology and the opportunities it presents, maintaining a dynamic website, having a strong social media presence, and, most recently, making our website mobile-friendly.
"We know that e-commerce is a big part of Suwanee's thriving economy and we welcome that, and we'll continue to embrace electronic and other technologies to further strengthen our economy and overall community."
To determine America's digital capitals, Google and IPSOS, an independent research firm, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities across the country. Factors considered included whether small businesses had a website, used a blog, promoted themselves via social networks, sold goods directly from their website, and had a mobile-friendly website.
"Clearly there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in Suwanee, which should be embraced," says Brett Williams, Google's director of SMB marketing, Americas. "Businesses in Suwanee are turning to the internet to start and develop their own businesses and we hope Suwanee becomes an inspiration to other areas in the country."
The Suwanee Town Center Master Plan is one example of community plans effectively implemented by the City of Suwanee.
Suwanee attains 'PlanFirst' designation
The City of Suwanee is in the inaugural class of 10 Georgia communities being recognized for excellence in community planning. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) awarded the PlanFirst designation in recognition that Suwanee not only creates good community plans, it also implements them well.
"Good planning by local communities is the hallmark of economic growth," says DCA Commissioner Gretchen Corbin. "These are communities that can serve as statewide models for others in how to actively and strategically implement a vision for the future."
Thirty communities applied to the PlanFirst program in its inaugural year. Designated communities had to demonstrate a proven record of plan implementation success in areas that included goals, leadership, and community participation.
In addition to Suwanee, these communities are part of the PlanFirst inaugural class: Athens-Clarke County, Braselton, Coweta County, Gainesville, Johnson County, Jones County, Madison, Vienna, and Woodstock.
These 10 communities will receive their award at the Capitol on January 28, and the designation will last for three years beginning January 1. The designation means that these communities can take advantage of various incentives, including public visibility, eligibility for funding, and certain reduced interest loans.
The City of Suwanee has recently received awards or recognition from a variety of state, national, and international organizations.
The City's Connects community newsletter and 2013 annual report have been recognized. The newsletter won two Awards of Excellence in September, in the printed publications-external publications and graphic design-publications categories, from the City-County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA). Connects is written by City of Suwanee staff and designed by the Veugeler Design Group in Buford.
Earlier this summer, the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report received Excellence in Financial Reporting recognition and its annual report earned a Popular Annual Financial Reporting award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The publications are compiled and designed by City of Suwanee staff.
One of the City's annual events, Woofstock, co-sponsored with Star 94 radio, received a Georgia Downtown Conference Award of Excellence in August. The City was recognized in the promotions category with a silver award.
Finally, the City of Suwanee has been recognized for its performance management efforts with a Certificate of Distinction from the International City/County Management Association's (ICMA) Center for Performance Analytics. Suwanee is among 11 jurisdictions nationwide to receive the Certificate of Distinction and one of 49 (and one of two in Georgia; Decatur being the other) recognized overall. More information.