2011 News Releases

December 2, 2011

SNAP SUWANEE EXHIBIT OPENS

Suwanee locales and people are featured in the 13 photos selected as winners of the 2011 Snap Suwanee competition. The photos were chosen from among 114 entries received from 35 shutterbugs and are on exhibit through the remainder of the year on the first floor of City Hall.

If there was a common theme among the entries, it would be the snow that arrived in Suwanee, both in February and on Christmas day of last year. More than two dozen of the entries featured snow.

"It's wonderful to see our community through the eyes – and camera lens – of our citizens," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "The exhibit of winning photographs provides an opportunity to pause and appreciate the beauty and many amenities that Suwanee offers."

Winning photographers include Suwanee residents Donna Charpentier, Natasha Fullard, Janet George, Dave Gillett, Michael Howard, Cris Koenigs, Mary Shaffer, Laura Shinliver, and Sandy Weaver. Other winners include Chrissy Jones of Dacula, Keri McDaniel of Lawrenceville, Jessica Roth of Snellville, and Steve White of Sugar Hill.


December 2, 2011

SUWANEE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY SELLS
HISTORIC PIERCE'S CORNER PROPERTY

Suwanee's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has sold one of the oldest commercial buildings along Main Street to a business focused on constructing, remodeling, and retrofitting buildings using green practices in order to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Deming LLC has acquired a 50-year lease purchase on the approximately 6,000-square-foot, two-story Pierce's Corner building, which was constructed in 1910. Vacant for several years, Pierce's Corner, located at 597 Main Street, was most recently an antique shop. Throughout its 100-year history, the building also has served as a general store, cotton gin, grocery store, dentist office, and silent movie theater.

Late last year, the DDA issued a request for proposals for Pierce's Corner that would serve as a catalyst for future growth and vitality in historic Old Town. The Deming proposal was one of 11 received earlier this year through that process. Deming has agreed to a lease-to-purchase price of $258,640, financed through a 3.5 percent interest rate paid in monthly installments of $1,161.41 (beginning in year three of the agreement). Deming has the right to purchase the building within the first 22 years of the agreement.

"We sought a unique proposition that would spur creative ideas and ultimately enhance the economic viability of Old Town and the City as a whole," notes Downtown and Business Development Manager Alison Starnes. "The Deming proposal certainly fits that bill, and we're very excited to welcome this green-focused business to Pierce's Corner. We hope that their presence and revitalization of this historic building will help stimulate further commercial and residential growth in historic Old Town."

As part of its three-phase plan, Deming will first remodel the main Pierce's Corner building. Design for renovations is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2012 and will include techniques designed to achieve LEED certification, such as providing parking for bicycles and fuel-efficient vehicles, collecting rainwater for landscaping and sanitary uses, adding a green roof, using solar panels, and sourcing building materials locally whenever possible. Future phases include potential new construction and residential uses.

Deming plans to have its offices on a portion of the building's top floor, leasing additional business incubator space on the second floor and rehabilitating the bottom floor to suit a future retail/commercial tenant's needs, which may include a restaurant use.

"We are very excited to be working with the City of Suwanee and the DDA on this project," says Michael D. Deming Jr. "We are confident that when completed, Pierce's Corner will stimulate growth in Old Town as well as the rest of Suwanee. Hopefully this will be the first of many projects for our group in this area."

Other principals with Deming LLC are Michael D. Deming Sr., Robert E. Gresham III, and Chuck Warbington. Deming will work in partnership with Community Development Partners, Inc., a Jonesboro firm with expertise in rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of historic downtown properties.


November 29, 2011

CONTRACTOR APPROVED FOR SUWANEE POLICE SUBSTATION

Suwanee City Council has approved a contract with Hogan Construction Group of Norcross for construction of a new 7,100-square-foot police substation and training facility at 2996 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road in the Suwanee Gateway area. Work is expected to begin on the substation by the end of December or early January.

Construction was approved at a maximum cost of a little more than $1.6 million; the anticipated total project cost is approximately $1.99 million. The project is funded primarily through SPLOST funds.

Designed by Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh & Associates, the facility will provide an enhanced police presence in the Suwanee Gateway and provide class space for regional police training and indoor firearms practice. A one-story facility, the building features clean lines in brick and a lofty, glazed entrance.

"Placing a police substation in the heavily commercial, heavily traveled Suwanee Gateway area serves several purposes," says City Manager Marty Allen. "Most importantly, it serves an operational need to provide ongoing training opportunities for our police personnel, reducing the need for them to travel to other jurisdictions for such training."

Construction is expected to require approximately 8 months.


November 17, 2011

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO OLD TOWN SUWANEE

Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice, conferring with Rudolph and the other reindeer, and preparing for his annual visit to Suwanee. Santa Claus will arrive via his tractor-pulled sleigh to magically light the red caboose on Main Street on Friday, December 2.

Old Town Holiday Festival and Caboose Lighting festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. with performances of favorite holiday tunes by schoolchildren from Level Creek, Riverside, Roberts, and Suwanee elementary schools. Hot chocolate, cookies, and s'mores will be available for free, and hot dogs will be available for purchase.

Children who have been "good for goodness sake" can share their wish list with Santa at the Burnette-Rogers Pavilion. Parents, bring your cameras to capture the magical moment.


November 8, 2011

JIMMY BURNETTE IS ELECTED SUWANEE'S NEW MAYOR

Suwanee voters have elected Jimmy Burnette as the City's new mayor. Newcomer Doug Ireland was elected to City Council, and incumbent Dick Goodman, who ran unopposed, will return for another term.

Uncertified election results are below:

Mayor Jimmy Burnette 876
  Dan Pittman 454
Council Post 1 Doug Ireland 804
  Jimmy Spiro 474
Council Post 2 Dick Goodman 1,056

In addition, Suwanee voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum that will allow alcohol package sales by retailers on Sundays. The vote was 1,023 in favor and 341 opposed.

In all, 1,374 ballots were cast in Suwanee's municipal election.


November 1, 2011

SUWANEE CREEK GREENWAY SECTIONS BEING CLOSED FOR 'MAKEOVER'

The oldest section of the Suwanee Creek Greenway, from Martin Farm Road to Suwanee Elementary School, will be closed in two phases over a seven-month or more period so that the City of Suwanee, through its contractor Georgia Development Partners, can rehabilitate and upgrade the approximately one-mile section of multiuse trail. 

The first phase, from the Town Center connector at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road to Martin Farm Road, was closed this week. Work on this phase will require 3-4 months, depending on weather conditions. When work on the first section is complete, rehabilitation will begin on the second phase, from the Town Center connector/ Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road to Suwanee Elementary, and that section also will be closed for 3-4 months, again depending on the weather.

With the possible exception of a few days between phases, the City plans to keep access to the Greenway open from the Town Center connector in one direction or the other.

This older section of Suwanee's popular, four-mile multiuse path was installed in the 1990s. Existing asphalt and boardwalk will be demolished, and new concrete and boardwalk will be installed at widths that match the newer sections of the Greenway. In addition, changes are being made to minimize as much as possible the impact of flooding along this section. For example, where possible, the trail will be moved to higher ground (6-18 inches higher) so that floodwaters will recede from the trail surface first.

The total project budget is approximately $1.2 million. Monies will come from SPLOST and remaining City of Suwanee open space bond funds.


October 26, 2011

SUWANEE PD TO MAKE CRIME DATA AVAILABLE ONLINE

Beginning November 1, citizens will be able to access City of Suwanee crime data online. This web-based service will allow residents to view data by location, type of crime, and date. The website may be accessed via a "Crime Data" link on the City & Other Services/Police page at www.suwanee.com or directly at www.crimereports.com/agency/SuwaneePD.

This new online service will provide basic information about criminal and traffic incidents around the City of Suwanee. Citizens, insurance companies, and others may still request formal incident reports from the police department's records division; each report is $3.

The online service is free to citizens. "This service will show citizens what's going on where in the community," says Lt. Dan Clark, adding that information is presented via symbols that appear on a Google map of the City. "This site also gives the police department a whole lot more crime analysis capabilities."

Using the website, citizens also may submit tips, view trends, and set up alerts and updates.


October 24, 2011

PARKER'S PARKS PARTY

The City of Suwanee is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2001 bond referendum vote that made possible acquisition of nearly 350 acres of open space and construction of six new parks with – what else? – a parks party. The City will host Parker's Parks Party on Saturday, November 5.

A variety of activities will be available at several of Suwanee's parks from 1-10 p.m. The event will be organized in a format similar to a progressive dinner, where people go from house to house, or in this case from park to park, for different "courses." In addition, Parker, Suwanee's oversized canine mascot, will greet guests at each park.

Schedule of Parker's Parks Party activities

  • PlayTown Suwanee, 1-3 pm: A reunion/cookout will be hosted for the hundreds of volunteers who helped construct the super playground on Main Street over four days in June 2004. 425 Main Street

  • White Street Park, 2-4 pm: The Harvest Farm Managing Board will host a petting zoo. Opened in June 2010, White Street Park is home to Harvest Farm, the largest organic community garden in Georgia. Visitors can also check out the scarecrows inhabiting the garden. 752 White Street

  • Sims Lake Park, 3-6 pm: We're breaking the rules! Fishing will be permitted from the 7-acre lake on November 5 only for the first time since the park opened in 2008. Bring your own fishing poles, bait, and tackle. Fish from the two lake access areas – near the streamscape and on the other side of the lake, near the koi pond. 4600 Suwanee Dam Road

  • Suwanee Creek Park/Suwanee Creek Greenway, 4-6 pm: Have fun getting fit with BodyPlex. Circuit training will be available throughout the park and along the Greenway extension, both of which opened in 2004. In addition, scouts will assist in making your own trail mix. 1170 Buford Highway

  • Town Center Park, 6-10 pm: Come to Suwanee's "front yard" and the first park to be completed (in December 2003) through the City's award-winning open space initiative for a hometown concert. North Gwinnett High School graduate and one of country music's brightest rising stars Andy Velo will headline at 8 p.m. He'll perform his new country single "Southern Thing." Vocalist Clark King will perform at 6 p.m. with Lanier High School senior Jordan Humphrey taking the stage at 7. Humphrey will perform his debut single, "That's What I'm Thinking." 370 Buford Highway

In 2001, Suwanee citizens voted with their hearts – and their pocketbooks – in favor of a $17.7 million general obligation bond referendum to acquire open space and create parks. Since that time, the City of Suwanee has acquired about 350 acres of open space and created six new parks, including a three-mile extension of the Suwanee Creek Greenway. The City has celebrated the 10th anniversary of the referendum vote this year with a "Parks Perfect the Place" promotional campaign.

Over the past decade, the City of Suwanee has won more than a dozen awards associated with its overall open space initiative and distinctive parks.


October 21, 2011

SUWANEE PD: GIVE US YOUR OLD, UNUSED, AND UNWANTED –
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, THAT IS, FOR SAFE DISPOSAL

The Suwanee Police Department, as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's national "Take Back" program, will accept expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for safe disposal from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, October 29. Prescription medications will be accepted – no questions asked – at the police station, located at 373 Buford Highway.

The "Take Back" program is designed to address the problem of prescription drug abuse, which is fueled by easy access to such medications. During two previous national "Take Back" events, more than 309 tons of pills were collected and safely discarded.

The Take Back campaign allows residents to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications in a safe, legal, and environmentally sound manner. Flushing prescriptions and other medications down the toilet or throwing them away in the trash pose potential safety and health hazards.

Medications may be dropped at the Suwanee Police Department and other locations anonymously. Intravenous solutions, injected medications, other liquid prescriptions, and needles will NOT be accepted. Illicit substances, such as marijuana and methamphetamine, also are not part of this initiative.

For more information about Suwanee's participation in this program, contact Sgt. Bryan Hickey at bhickey@suwanee.com or 770-904-7609.


October 20, 2011

GWINCO BOULEVARD RENAMED CELEBRATION DRIVE

As part of the now completed Georgia Department of Transportation project to extend McGinnis Ferry Road 2.7 miles from Satellite Boulevard, across I-85, to Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, the City of Suwanee has renamed Gwinco Boulevard. The road's new name is Celebration Drive.

"The City has for several years had a vision for this particular section of the Suwanee Gateway to serve as a hospitality hub," says Special Projects Coordinator Toni Shrewsbury. "A component of our plans called for changing the road's name. This seemed like an opportune time to do so with the conclusion of this significant road project that's really improving traffic flow and safety in the area."

A new road, Celebration Connector, links Celebration Drive to Old Peachtree Road.

Several hotels and restaurants are located on Celebration Drive. For safety reasons, access to and from Celebration Drive at both ends is limited to right-in and right-out only.

Those traveling east on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road or west on McGinnis Ferry may access these businesses by turning right onto Celebration Drive; those driving west on Lawrenceville-Suwanee or east on McGinnis Ferry access the businesses via Old Peachtree Road and Celebration Connector.


October 19, 2011

TREK OR TREAT

Spooky, funky, or silly costumes are the suggested attire for the annual Trek or Treat event from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, October 29, at Suwanee Creek Park. The park is located at 1170 Buford Highway.

Lil' pumpkins, superheroes, princesses, and scary monsters are invited to enjoy fall festival-style games, crafts and activities, and trek or treating along the Suwanee Creek Greenway.

This event is free and open to the public. Prizes and hot dogs will be available while supplies last.


October 19, 2011

SPOOK-TACULAR FUN LINED UP
FOR FINAL TOAST @ TOWN CENTER

The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) will host a pumpkin carving challenge as part of the final Toast @ Town Center event of the season. Area residents are invited to come in costume or "come as you are" for frightfully good meals…good deals…and good times from 6-10 p.m. Thursday, October 27, at Suwanee Town Center.

Carved, embellished, painted, and pierced pumpkins will be judged in a variety of categories – such as cutest, funniest, and scariest – in different age groups, from pre-school through adult. Participants may bring finished pumpkins to Town Center Park or carve/decorate on site from 6-7 p.m. Be sure to bring your own pumpkins and materials. Pumpkins will be judged and lit at 7 p.m. with winners announced at approximately        8 p.m.

In addition, several Town Center restaurants are participating in a mixology contest. Corralejo, Ippolito's, Mellow Mushroom, and Olde Towne will offer scary concoctions with names such as Spook-tini or Dracula's Kiss. These Halloween-themed cocktails will be available inside the restaurants during Toast @ Town Center and throughout the week preceding the event.

Singer Dave Craver will perform classic rock favorites from the '50s through today at Olde Towne while Mellow Mushroom will offer a free half order of pretzels for customers in costume (limit two per table). In addition, Hairllucinations will provide pink streaks, in support of breast cancer awareness month, for $10.

Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events on the fourth Thursday of each month April through October. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.


October 19, 2011

SUWANEE INSTALLS SHARROWS

The City of Suwanee has installed nearly 5 miles of sharrows – street markings that remind motorists to share the roadway with bicycles – as part of implementation of its 2011 Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. The sharrows – identified by a bicycle symbol with a double arrow above – are intended to improve the safety relationship between cyclists and drivers.

Research has shown, says Suwanee's Director of Planning Josh Campbell, that these markings make cyclists more comfortable in their portion of the roadway and encourage drivers to give cyclists more space. However, unlike bicycle lanes, sharrows do not designate part of the road exclusively for cyclists.

"Sharrows," Campbell says, "don't create any additional rights for bikers nor diminish rights or responsibilities for drivers. They simply create an awareness to share the road."

The sharrow-marked routes in Suwanee include Eva Kennedy, Main Street, Martin Farm Road, Russell Road, Scales Road, and Station Center Boulevard.

"Suwanee wants to encourage alternative forms of transportation," says Campbell, who recreationally bikes 80 miles each week. "Sharrows give bikers the assurance that they're allowed to use those roads as well."

The routes marked are intended to be used primarily for transportation, rather than recreational, purposes and take bikers to and around downtown Suwanee without having to access busier main roads. The marked routes lead to destination locations, such as historic Old Town, the Suwanee Creek Greenway, and McGinnis Ferry multiuse path, from which additional destinations are accessible.

The sharrow markings, spaced 250 feet apart, were installed by the City's public works department. Signs also have been installed, indicating the beginning and end of routes as well as any turns along the way.


October 6, 2011

SCULPTOUR SNAGS DOWNTOWN AWARD

Suwanee SculpTour, the City of Suwanee's public art encounter that features 15 outdoor sculptures in a walkable exhibit in and around Town Center, has received a Downtown Excellence Award for "Best Image-Building Campaign." The award was presented in Rome, Georgia, last week at the Georgia Downtown Association's annual conference.

The award, presented to Suwanee's Public Arts Commission, honors a coordinated public campaign that promotes overall attention to downtown activities.

Installed in May and running through March 2012, the inaugural SculpTour is comprised of sculptures of varying sizes, styles, and materials. SculpTour is an interactive exhibit in that citizens and visitors may vote – via QR codes or the City website – for their favorite sculpture; the winning piece becomes the "people's choice" and will be purchased by the Public Arts Commission to be added to the City's permanent collection.

Walking guides for the SculpTour exhibit are available at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue, or online by clicking the "SculpTour" link at the top of the City's homepage at www.suwanee.com.


October 4, 2011

TERROR ON THE TRAIL

By day, Sims Lake Park is an idyllic retreat for four-legged creatures on leashes, children who frolic on the playground, and walkers and joggers pacing themselves around the 7-acre lake. But beware the park after dark! Over two weekends this month, the park's 1.2-mile looping trail will be transformed into a haunting backdrop for zombies and tales of terror.

In cooperation with the City of Suwanee, the Aurora Theatre will bring Terror on the Trail, a haunted attraction, to life Friday and Saturday, October 14 and 15 and October 21 and 22. Zombies will lead the brave of heart through Sims Lake Park to hear tales of terror. The first tour will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening with the last tour starting at 9:30. Tours last approximately 75 minutes.

Tickets are $15 in advance and available at www.terroronthetrail.com or by calling the Aurora Theatre Box Office at 678-226-6222. Tickets also may be purchased at the park for $18. Sims Lake Park is located at 4600 Suwanee Dam Road.

"Teenage zombies will lead guests to tormented, tortured souls, who will recount for them their personal tales of horror," says Al Stilo, director of sales and marketing with the Aurora Theatre. "The legions of undead who haunt the lake subsist on human fear, and our storytellers are charged by their zombie captors to frighten folks for their pleasure and sustenance."

In reality, Stilo says, Terror on the Trail is somewhere between a historic storytelling and haunted house experience, featuring professional storytellers who weave a new mythology and lore around the historical grounds that surround Sims Lake. There are some special effects, but nothing will jump out to startle visitors.

Guests are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear and to dress for the weather. No flashlights please (the zombies don't like light). While the tour is wheelchair accessible, strollers are not permitted. The tour is not recommended for children under 10; it is strongly suggested that children 12 and younger be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, visit www.terroronthetrail.com or call the Aurora Theatre at 678-226-6222.


September 26, 2011

HIGHLY RATED SERVICES GARNER SUWANEE TWO NATIONAL AWARDS

The City of Suwanee received two Voice of the People Awards for Excellence for having the highest resident-rated parks and overall services among jurisdictions nationwide that participated in the 2010 National Citizen Survey. Suwanee was among nine communities throughout the nation – and the only one in Georgia – to be recognized.

The awards were presented last week by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and National Research Center (NRC) at the ICMA annual conference in Milwaukee. Award recipients were identified from among the 42 jurisdictions that conducted the National Citizen Survey in 2010.

"This means a lot to us, to be recognized on a national level because our citizens have expressed a high rate of satisfaction with our services," says City Manager Marty Allen. "You've got to remember that the communities that typically participate in the National Citizen Survey are among the best of the best so it's really saying something to be at the top among this group."

To qualify for the Excellence awards, communities had to rate among the top three in service areas according to the 2010 national survey and be in the top 10 percent among more than 500 jurisdictions in the citizen survey database.

The City of Suwanee conducted the survey in November 2010; survey results were released in February. Suwanee residents generally rated City services and the overall community very highly, putting the Gwinnett city of 15,500 above the national benchmark in 63 areas.

As related to overall quality of life, 98 percent of surveyed citizens said that Suwanee was an excellent (68%) or good (30%) place to live. Residents also regarded the City's parks highly with 95 percent of those surveyed rating them as excellent or good.

The NCS enables local governments to gather citizen data on budgeting, goal-setting, performance measurement, and program planning. The City of Suwanee generally conducts the National Citizen Survey every two years.


September 26, 2011

COMMUNITY GARDEN HOSTS SCARECROW COMPETITION

Suwanee's Harvest Farm Community Garden is hosting a communitywide scarecrow competition.

About 10 gardeners participated in the competition last year. This year, by opening the competition to the community, the Harvest Farm managing board hopes that more scarecrows will take up residence at the community garden. Harvest Farm gardeners may place their scarecrows in their plots any time from October 1-21, while community members are invited to line their scarecrows up along the inside of the garden's perimeter split-rail fence; signs at White Street Park, 752 White Street, will indicate where scarecrows should be placed.

Prizes from local businesses will be awarded to winners in categories such as scariest, funniest, and most creative. Judging will take place on October 22.

Scarecrows should remain at the White Street Park through November 13. After that, individuals may pick up their scarecrows. Any remaining scarecrows will be discarded after November 30.

For additional information, contact Kim Thompson at kimdthompson@bellsouth.net or 678-644-5793.


September 16, 2011

CRUISE-IN AND CRAVER @ TOAST @ TOWN CENTER

The September 22 Toast @ Town Center event will include a "Cruise-In" featuring antique cars and hot rods as well as the music of Dave Craver.

Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events from 6-10 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month through October. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.

About a dozen stylish cars are anticipated for the Cruise-In, while Craver will perform classic rock favorites from the '50s through today outside Olde Towne Tavern & Grille. Other merchants also will be offering good meals, good deals, and good times.


September 14, 2011

FITCH UPGRADES SUWANEE'S BOND RATING TO AA+

The City of Suwanee's general obligation bond rating has been raised three times over the past 17 months. This week, Fitch Ratings upgraded the City's rating on its general obligation and revenue bonds to AA+ from AA.

Last year, in a recalibration, Fitch raised Suwanee's rating from AA- to AA. In April, Standard and Poor's upgraded Suwanee's general obligation rating from AA- to AA based on the City's historically strong financial position and solid economic foundation.

Fitch Ratings issued its upgrade this week following a routine review. The financial ratings company based the upgrade on "the [C]ity's very strong financial profile, marked by the consistency of operating results and maintenance of robust reserves and liquidity over a prolonged period of time."

"To say that we're excited about this would be a huge understatement," says Suwanee Mayor Dave Williams. "That two separate, independent, and well-respected financial rating companies have upgraded the City of Suwanee's bond rating in these financially turbulent times says a lot about our fiscal policies and practices.

"Keep in mind, too, that Suwanee has actually lowered the property tax rate each of the past two years," Williams adds. "So, yes, we take this upgrade as validation that we're doing things right financially and being good stewards of our taxpayers' money. I'm very proud of our entire staff, who have worked hard to make these ratings possible."

In its review of Suwanee, Fitch also noted that:

  • Suwanee's unemployment rate has remained relatively steady and well below the state and national average.
  • The City's overall debt is approximately 2.1% of market value, which Fitch considers low, and that debt ratios benefit from the City's use of recurring revenue to fund capital needs.
  • Suwanee's attractive social and economic characteristics, central location, proximity to Atlanta, and access to extensive transportation infrastructure encourages commercial growth.
  • The City's pension plan is well-funded, and annual contributions to the plan are approximately 1% of total spending.

An AA+ bond rating from Fitch Ratings, its second highest rating, denotes a "very high credit quality" and indicates that the organization has a very strong capacity for payment of financial commitments.


September 12, 2011

SUWANEE OFFERS 'WINDOW' WORKSHOP FOR BUSINESSES

The City of Suwanee is hosting a visual merchandising training workshop for local businesses on Monday, October 3. The workshop, "Designing Window Displays That Sell," will be led by Susan Shaddox, interior design consultant with Main Street Arkansas.

The workshop will take place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue, and at area retail businesses. The registration fee is $20 and includes lunch; Suwanee businesses will receive priority for the limited number of spaces.

This hands-on training session will focus how to stimulate local retail sales with eye-catching window displays, improved product placement, and positive image-building. Shaddox has worked in interior and commercial design with Felcor Lodging Trust in Dallas and Baptist Health Systems in Little Rock. She has designed window and in-store visual merchandising displays for numerous small retail businesses in Arkansas as well as for Dillard's department stores.

The workshop will include a presentation, hands-on exercises, and site visits to several Suwanee businesses.

Registration is due by September 20. For an application or more information, contact Downtown and Business Development Manager Alison Starnes at astarnes@suwanee.com or 770-904-3388.


September 8, 2011

BADGE OF HONOR

The next session of Suwanee's Citizens Police Academy will begin Tuesday, October 4. This eight-week, hands-on program allows participants a chance to get to know many of Suwanee's officers personally and provides a better understanding of the responsibilities and risks of being a police officer – plus it's a lot of fun!

Consider these comments from two participants in last fall's program:

"I particularly enjoyed the building search and burglaries [activities]. Overall, the entire program has made me more aware and smarter about my environment."

"[Citizens Police Academy] is a great way for the citizens of Suwanee to become educated about the police and to help support them."

The deadline for applying to the program is September 23. Applications are available at www.suwanee.com.

Class sessions will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway. Some of the topics covered include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification. For more information, contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at ecasanas@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612.


August 31, 2011

SUWANEE'S ANNUAL REPORT RECOGNIZED

The City of Suwanee's 2010 Annual Report has received a Popular Annual Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). GFOA's program recognizes popular annual financial reports that are readily accessible and easily understandable.

Suwanee's report was evaluated for its creativity, presentation, understandability, and reader appeal.

Last year was the first time that Suwanee produced and received recognition for a popular annual financial report. However, the City has been recognized by GFOA for several years for its budget documents and Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports.

All three current documents are available in the Financial Documents section of the Docs & Downloads page at www.suwanee.com.


August 29, 2011

REMEMBERING 9/11 WITH CANDLELIGHT, BAGPIPES, GOOSE BUMPS – AND A WORLD TRADE CENTER ARTIFACT

Candlelight, bagpipes, and goose bumps will be on order when Suwanee remembers loss, courage, and resilience during a 10th anniversary 9/11 commemorative ceremony to be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 10, at Town Center Park. Area residents are invited to attend this free event at which the 1,638-pound World Trade Center artifact that the City of Suwanee has acquired will be unveiled.

The City obtained the artifact, which has been named Remembrance, from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in July. The piece, an exterior panel from the 101st-104th floors of one of the World Trade Center towers that collapsed on September 11, 2001, is described as the lower one-third of three columns, but is so twisted and damaged that it's difficult to distinguish the three columns.

In addition to the unveiling, the September 10 candlelight remembrance ceremony will honor public safety officials and others. Police, fire, and EMT officials from throughout Gwinnett County have been invited to the event. Fire trucks and police vehicles will be on display as part of the ceremony.

"We're planning a respectful, reverent, spine-tingling event," says Office Administrator Billie Marshall, who, along with police and fire officials and other City staff members, has organized the ceremony. "We really want to pay homage to our public safety officials, our community, and this sacred artifact."

Following the ceremony, Town Center Cinema will show World Trade Center, a 2006 Oliver Stone movie starring Nicholas Cage. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images, and language. If you're staying for the movie, bring chairs and blankets. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase; alcohol may not be brought to the park.

Remembrance will remain on exhibit at Town Center Park at least through Suwanee Day on September 17. The City currently is considering permanent locations for display of the artifact.


August 25, 2011

CITY OF SUWANEE LOWERS PROPERTY TAX RATE – AGAIN

For the second consecutive year, the City of Suwanee has lowered its millage rate for property taxes. On Tuesday, City Council approved a millage rate of 5.65 for fiscal year 2012, a slight reduction from last year's rate of 5.70. In 2010, the rate was 5.77.

"As the tough economy lingers, we're pleased to be able to lower our tax rate for our citizens and businesses for the second year in a row," says Mayor Dave Williams. "There aren't very many communities that have done that."

The City began the 2012 fiscal year on July 1 with an $11.8 million operating budget, which is about $420,000 less than the adjusted 2011 budget.

Suwanee's strong and stable fiscal standing, says City Manager Marty Allen, is due in large measure to the City's history of careful and conservative fiscal policies and practices. This spring, Standard and Poor's upgraded the City's credit rating from AA- to AA.

Suwanee's millage rate has remained level or been decreased every year since the 2003 fiscal year after voters approved open space bonds that have financed acquisition and construction of more than 300 acres of parks and open space and an extension of the Suwanee Creek Greenway.


August 17, 2011

MUSIC AND ART PART OF AUGUST 25 'TOAST'

Music and art will take center stage at the August 25 Toast @ Town Center. The A-Town A-List band will perform on the Town Center stage while North Gwinnett Art Association artists and Harvest Farm gardeners will color the event with art and other items available for purchase.

Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events on the fourth Thursday of each month through October. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.

As part of this month's festivities from 6-10 p.m., Gwinnett Church is hosting a free concert by the A-Town A-List band. A metro variety band, A-Town A-List performs pop music from the past 60 years, from the Temptations to Black-Eyed Peas, Frank Sinatra to Michael Bublé, and CCR to Train.

As part of a joint fundraiser, members of the North Gwinnett Art Association (NGAA) and Harvest Farm community garden have teamed together to offer artsy garden items such as a watercolor print of the garden, flower pots, and plant stakes as well as t-shirts for purchase. NGAA artists will exhibit additional artwork, which also will be available for purchase.


August 11, 2011

‘IRON MAN 2’ COMING TO SUWANEE BIG SCREEN

B at the Movies when B98.5 FM, Publix, and the City of Suwanee bring Iron Man 2 to the extra large screen at Town Center Park on Saturday, August 20.  This free movie will begin at dusk, but festivities and food vendors will be ready to go at 7 p.m.

In this sequel, which was in theaters last summer, Robert Downey, Jr., who portrays billionaire Tony Stark and superhero Iron Man, collaborates with characters portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson to save Stark from himself and the world from villains portrayed by Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, and a host of weaponized drones.

The film, which won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and violence as well as some language.

Says Movie Talk Critic Jason Best of the film: “Robert Downey, Jr. squeezes back into…Tony Stark’s incredible suit…and his charismatic presence gives the movie a bigger boost than his character’s jet-propelled boots.”

B at the Movies is presented by Publix. Bring chairs, blankets, and snacks, but no alcohol please. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.


August 5, 2011

SUWANEE RECOGNIZED FOR DISTINCTIVE MANAGEMENT

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) knows a thing or two about local government management, and the organization is suitably impressed by practices in the City of Suwanee that it awarded Suwanee, for the third straight year, with a Certificate of Distinction for “superior performance management efforts.” Suwanee is one of 47 jurisdictions throughout the country to be recognized through ICMA’s certificate program and one of 11 to receive the Certificate of Distinction, which represents the middle level in the certificate program.

“We know that people’s eyes probably glaze over when we get geeky about performance data, comparisons to other jurisdictions, and operational decision-making,” says Amie Sakmar, Suwanee’s director of financial services. “But for Suwanee, these measures and practices are important components in effective decision-making. They help us to know that we’re headed in the right direction and provide us with red flags on those occasions that we’re not.”

According to ICMA, performance management encourages accountability and transparency and aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement.

“Through our certificate program,” says Michael Lawson, director of ICMA’s Center for Performance Measurement, “local governments are recognized for exceptional commitment to continuous learning and improvement. The criteria on which the certificates are based serve as a checklist of effective, results-oriented management practices.”


August 4, 2011

WHAT COULD BE ‘BETTER THAN’ A FREE CONCERT?

Alternative rock trio Better Than Ezra will provide the “rock,” and area teams will provide the “jocks” for Suwanee’s Rock & Jock Festival on Saturday, August 13. This free annual summer concert event will serve as a pep rally of sorts for local high school teams as well as provide an energetic line-up of musical performances. Festivities begin at 5 p.m.

Known for putting on a high-energy live show each time they hit the stage, Better Than Ezra will headline the evening, taking the stage about 8 p.m.

Musical performances will begin at 6 p.m. with Gasoline Bros., an Atlanta-based band that offers classic country with great stories and played with the hammer down. Ingram Hill, a Memphis-based rock trio, will play at 7 p.m.

In addition to local high school teams, the event will include athlete appearances from college and professional teams.

Bring chairs, blankets, friends, and neighbors; however, no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Food and beverages, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase.

Town Center Park is located at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Buford Highway. Limited parking is available in Town Center and historic Old Town, which is accessible via a pedestrian tunnel. Free shuttle buses will be available from 5:30-10:30 p.m. from Shawnee North Business Center, 305 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.


August 2, 2011

SEND A NOTE THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY WITH SUWANEE POSTCARDS

The City of Suwanee has created postcards from some of its favorite photos of some of its favorite spots around town. The postcards are available for purchase at City Hall.

“Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot of requests for postcards,” says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. “So, we figured why not? We’re fortunate that we have many great photos from around the City, and they’ve made lovely postcards.”

Five postcards were produced; four are standard-sized and one is oversized. The postcards feature City Hall in the spring, Harvest Farm at White Street Park, the red caboose in historic Old Town, Main Street after a snow, and the Big Splash interactive fountain at Town Center Park.

Standard postcards are 50 cents each, and the oversized postcard (of Big Splash) is $1.


July 21, 2011

TAKING COMMUNITY CONVERSATION TO A DEEPER LEVEL

While Suwanee area residents may continue to offer input and big ideas via the 20/20 Vision Open House at 3930 Charleston Market Place through July 28, the City of Suwanee is readying for the next step in encouraging community discussion about Suwanee’s future.

The City hopes to enlist about 300 people to participate in small-group, in-depth roundtable conversations as the next step in its ongoing strategic planning process. These facilitated conversations in groups of 8-12 people will begin in late August/September and carry through the fall.

“This is an opportunity for community members to get together for rich discussions about important topics regarding Suwanee’s future,” says Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth.

Each roundtable group and facilitator will stay together throughout the process. The groups will meet in restaurants, local businesses, and residents’ homes approximately four times for about 90-120 minutes each session.

Registration for these roundtable discussions is available through August 10 at www.suwanee2020.com. If you’re interested in being a facilitator, for which training will be provided, contact Jessica Roth at jroth@suwanee.com.


July 21, 2011

‘HAIR’ TO BE ALL THE RAGE FOR TOAST @ TOWN CENTER

The July 28 Toast @ Town Center event is adopting a ’60s theme in honor of the Suwanee Performing Arts’ production of Hairspray. Dress rehearsal for Hairspray and an original mini-musical, Rapunzel’s Twist, both of which will be officially staged on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, will take place Thursday evening, July 28, and Toast @ Town Center revelers are welcome to attend.

In addition, July 28 is the final night that the City of Suwanee’s 20/20 Vision Open House will be accessible to area residents, who are invited to stop in at 3930 Charleston Market Street to offer input and ideas related to the kind of community they want Suwanee to be in the future.

The North Gwinnett Arts Association also will host an ArtWalk with an opportunity to view and purchase artwork as well as speak with artists.

A monthly happening, held from 6-10 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month through October, Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.


July 20, 2011

‘CAN’T STOP THE BEAT’ AT BROADWAY IN THE PARK

This year’s Broadway in the Park musical is about acceptance and change – and the Suwanee Performing Arts production is modeling a few changes of its own: This year’s performances are free to the community!

A talented cast of young artists will stage Hairspray, the upbeat, foot-tappin’ musical that takes its audiences back to turbulent times in 1960s Baltimore. Come to Suwanee Town Center Park Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, to root on lovable, larger-than-life teen Tracy Turnbald as she manages to vanquish a reigning princess, integrate a television show, and find true love – singing and dancing all the while with nary a hair out of place!

Performances will begin at 7 p.m. with the production of an original mini-musical Rapunzel’s Twist, a delightful retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale with a 1960s twist.

Suwanee Performing Arts Executive Director Patti Etherton says of Hairspray: “The message is phenomenal. The story of love and acceptance and even taking those that don’t fit the cultural norm and bringing out the best in everybody – it’s a great message, a great story that we all need to hear and be reminded of. It’s a classic.”

Broadway in the Park will continue to serve as a Suwanee Performing Arts fundraiser in that donations will be requested at each performance and a drawing will be held. In addition, refreshments will be available for purchase.

Bring your neighbors, blankets, chairs, and picnic baskets to Town Center Park for Hairspray and Rapunzel’s Twist. No alcohol may be brought to Town Center Park, nor will alcoholic beverages be available for purchase at these productions.


July 12, 2011

VOTE FOR SCULPTOUR ART
Winning piece to become part of Suwanee’s permanent art collection

Will it be the oversized sun at which people are snapping photos with heads peeking through the hollow middle? Could it be the totem pole made of car bumpers, which some think is a subliminal safe driving message? Perhaps it will be the free-spirited lady whose open arms many have imitated. Suwanee residents and visitors now may vote for their favorite art piece among these or one of a dozen other sculptures that comprise the inaugural Suwanee SculpTour. The sculpture with the most votes at the end of the exhibit in March will be deemed the “People’s Choice” and purchased for permanent display.

“We’re really excited about the conversations that the variety of sculptures is generating,” says Suwanee’s Economic and Community Development Director Denise Brinson. “People are talking about which ones they like and which they don’t. The Public Arts Commission is going to buy one of these sculptures for the City’s permanent art collection so we really encourage people to vote for their favorite.”

Residents and others may vote for their favorite sculpture in a variety of ways:

  • Visit www.suwanee.com/whatsnew.sculptour.php and click on the green “People’s Choice Vote for Me” button beside the description of your favorite sculpture. Those viewing the exhibit also may share comments about the sculptures via the same webpage.
  • Those with smart phones and, if necessary, a free downloaded application, may access the website and vote via QR codes printed on the signs on each sculpture.
  • Paper ballots are available in a box just outside City Hall on Charleston Market Street. The completed ballots should be placed in the adjacent secure silver drop box.

A printed guide/map of the exhibit is available at City Hall as well as in the box on Charleston Market Street and at Ippolito’s Italian Restaurant.

Suwanee resident Chris Dolgetta sent an email to the City of Suwanee in June, stating: “I absolutely LOVE seeing all the pieces!  I didn't realize what a nice effect the sculptures give – it's a beautiful added dimension to our already amazing Town Center.” 

City officials are encouraged to note that the SculpTour pieces are indeed getting noticed, provoking reactions, and drawing attention to the Suwanee community.

“It’s really cool to see people of all ages going up to the sculptures, studying them, imitating them, and having their picture taken with the art,” says Brinson. “Through programs like SculpTour, what we’re building is Suwanee’s unique tourism draw. Combined with our interactive fountain, community garden, greenway, and Town Center, Suwanee is really becoming a destination, offering fun, educational, outdoorsy, and cultural amenities.

“We’ve got enough great things going on now that Suwanee makes not just a great place to live or to come for special events but also a great weekend getaway for people in the region.”

No City tax funds were expended to bring the 2011 Suwanee SculpTour to the community. The exhibit is funded by generous private sponsors, including Georgia Natural Gas, Law Offices of Richard Yoon, and Peoples Bank & Trust.

The 15 art pieces, created by a dozen artists, in the Suwanee SculpTour include:

  • Amne and Dreams of Flying by Harry Zmijewski (Buford, GA)
  • Arachnid by Damon Lusky (Dawsonville, GA)
  • Bright Ideas 2 by Lori Sturgess (Roswell, GA)
  • Catching the Wind by Gregory Johnson (Cumming, GA)
  • Deconstructed Bolt by Andrew T. Crawford (Atlanta, GA)
  • Free Spirit and Ribbon Dance by Jennifer Freeman (Johns Creek, GA)
  • Intrusion by Harry McDaniel (Asheville, NC)
  • Magic Rain and Sunset by Gus and Lina Ocamposilva (Clearwater, FL)
  • Mother & Child by Eluisa Altman (Bogota, NJ)
  • Prayer Booth by Dylan Mortimer (Kansas City, MO)
  • Sticks 7 by Dennis Primm (Buford, GA)
  • Sunbeam II by Sydney Atkinson (Woodstock, GA)

June 30, 2011

MIDDLE SCHOOLERS CREATE BENCHES FOR SUWANEE PARK

As a community service project, some 600 eighth grade students at North Gwinnett Middle School (now rising freshmen) created six stone and mosaic-style benches, three of which were donated to the City of Suwanee. The colorful benches were presented to City Council on June 21 and installed at PlayTown Suwanee on Main Street earlier this week.

Located beneath a tree beside the pavilion at PlayTown, each bench features a different word: unique, visionary, remarkable. These characteristics, along with “Suwanee quality,” serve as Suwanee anchor points (those qualities by which City Council and staff weigh significant decisions).

The eighth grade class project was organized by parents Heather Thomas and Joni Baraban as well as North Gwinnett Middle School art teacher Jennifer Droske. Each student created a small colorful clay tile that adorns the tops of the six benches.

Suwanee’s three curved benches are now part of the City’s permanent public art collection and have been included on the Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable exhibit of outdoor sculptures on loan to the City as well as several permanent public art pieces. The other three benches created by students are located at the school.


June 29, 2011

SUWANEE PD USES GOHS GRANT FOR MOTORCYCLE ENFORCEMENT

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has awarded the Suwanee Police Department a $10,000 small agency incentive grant. Suwanee earned the grant by participating in and reporting on a variety of GOHS traffic safety enforcement programs (e.g., Click It or Ticket, Georgia HEAT) throughout the year.

Suwanee has used the grant to equip its motorcycle enforcement unit with a video camera as well as tablet computer and electronic printer in order to produce electronic tickets.

“All of this equipment,” says Capt. Cass Mooney, “will make our motorcycle traffic enforcement unit more effective. We appreciate the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for providing assistance to our agency.”


June 21, 2011

SUWANEE BUDGET SLIGHTLY SMALLER FOR FY2012;
MILLAGE RATE DECREASE PROJECTED

Suwanee City Council adopted this evening an $11.8 million operating budget for fiscal year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012), which is about $420,000 less than the adjusted FY2011 budget. The adopted capital improvements budget for 2012-2016 stands at $24.9 million and provides for 24 equipment and vehicle, facilities, recreation, transportation, water, and stormwater projects.

The adopted operating budget proposes a small decrease of 0.5 mills in the millage rate, by which property taxes are calculated. The proposed millage rate, which City Council is expected to consider in August, is 5.65 mills.

“We’re pleased to be able to hold the line on operational expenses and to reduce slightly the burden on taxpayers during this sustained economic downturn, all while continuing to provide high service levels for our citizens,” says City Manager Marty Allen.
“I’m proud to report that the City of Suwanee remains stable and fiscally strong for the coming year, in large measure, thanks to Suwanee’s history of careful and conservative fiscal policies and practices.”

Allen notes that City’s historically strong financial position and solid economic foundation were considerations in S&P’s upgrade of the City’s rating from AA- to AA this past April.

While the City of Suwanee has planned for an overall slight decrease in revenues, it does expect a modest increase in two areas. Suwanee’s 76% population growth from 2000 to 2010, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, will account for an increase in revenues from state and local allocations in certain categories (excise taxes on insurance premiums, for example). Also, says Allen, Suwanee is seeing evidence that development will be comparable to pre-bubble (pre-2005) levels, providing a small increase in building permit income over the previous couple of years.

Some of the new expenditures covered in Suwanee’s 2012 general fund budget include:

  • contract for maintenance of right-of-way areas along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, previously provided by Gwinnett County
  • one new full-time position, a budget analyst in the financial services department, and one new part-time position, a dispatcher in the police department, as well as 12 additional hours/week for part-time custodial services
  • a 2.5 percent merit cost of living adjustment for employees
  • $75,000 for the 20/20 Vision strategic plan (total cost for the plan is budgeted at $150,000; $75,000 was included in the 2011 budget)
  • four new police vehicles and a new truck and mowing equipment for public works

June 17, 2011

JUNE TOAST TO FOCUS ON UPSIDE

A band performance. An art walk. Test drives of the 2012 Ford Focus. A “Visioning Happy Hour.” Good meals…good deals…good times. The June 23 Toast @ Town Center event has a lot going on and offers a little something for everyone.

A monthly happening, held from 6-10 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month through October, Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.

The Town Center salon Hairllucinations is hosting The UpSide, a local Suwanee band that plays original songs as well as popular covers. The trio of musicians has played throughout the Atlanta area and lists among its influences Dave Matthews, Kings of Leon, Jack Johnson, Pink Floyd, Rob Thomas, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and Led Zeppelin. The UpSide’s performance is free and open to the public.

Artists from the North Gwinnett Arts Association will host an Art Walk at which their work will be exhibited and available for purchase.

As part of its Drive with Purpose tour, Ford will offer test drives of the newly redesigned 2012 Ford Focus. For each test drive taken, Ford will donate $2 to Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (D.A.D.S.), a committee of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta. D.A.D.S. is a not-for-profit community group composed of fathers whose children have Down Syndrome and who work to support one another and their communities.

Also, as part of Toast @ Town Center, the City of Suwanee will launch the citizen engagement phase of its 20/20 Strategic Plan. Area residents are invited to a “Visioning Happy Hour” from 6-9 p.m. at 3930 Charleston Market Street where they may offer input, engage in a variety of creative exercises, and learn more about the 20/20 strategic plan.


June 15, 2011

CITIZEN VOICES NEEDED TO CREATE 20/20 VISION

The City of Suwanee is set to encourage community conversations in unique, high-energy ways as it never has before. It’s all part of the launch of the City’s strategic plan initiative, 20/20 Vision.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” says Assistant to the City Manager Jessica Roth. “We’re truly committed to encouraging citizen participation at a whole new level through this strategic planning process.”

The creation of a shared, inclusive, exciting strategic plan, a plan that will shape the Suwanee of 2020, will require input from as many citizens as possible. To launch those conversations, a “Visioning Happy Hour” will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at 3930 Charleston Market Street in Town Center, Suite B1.

Then over the next five weeks, through July 28, citizens can drop in at the community open house on Charleston Market Street to offer input, engage in a variety of creative exercises, and learn more about the 20/20 Vision strategic plan.

“We want this to be an exciting process,” Roth says. “We want to generate widespread participation from the community. By extending the open house over five weeks, there’s no excuse for anyone not to come and participate. We hope that every single community member stops in.”

Residents are encouraged to stop in at the open house at their convenience on one of the four days it will be open each week. After the kick-off on June 23, which coincides with the monthly Toast @ Town Center event, it will be open, through July 28, from
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and 9-11 a.m. Saturdays.

To further encourage citizens to participate, those who show up for the initial open house on June 23 will receive a coupon good for a 15% discount at participating downtown Suwanee businesses. In addition, a drawing for a $20 downtown Suwanee gift certificate will be held that evening and then once each week of the open house.

Philadelphia-based Interface Studio, the City’s consultant-partner through the strategic planning process, has designed several engaging, creative – even quirky – activities to jumpstart the community conversation. Some of the activities will include postcards, photo suggestion booth, a green/sustainability challenge, collaborative map, and a budgeting exercise.

Despite the purposefully built-in fun factor, Interface Principal Scott Page notes that Suwanee’s strategic planning process is more than an exercise or game. “Suwanee’s 20/20 Vision is a community-driven strategic plan for the next decade,” he says in an article in Suwanee’s community newsletter CrossRoads. “It will seek to capture the hopes and dreams of Suwanee’s residents in order to develop specific strategies and action steps that can help the vision become reality.”

A community-based steering committee has been established to help guide the process. In addition, small-group community conversations will be a key component to the planning process and will begin in late summer. Area residents may register to be part of those small-group conversations at www.suwanee.com.


June 15, 2011

TOMAHAWK CHOP – AND ATLANTA BRAVES – COMING TO SUWANEE

When Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, and the rest of the Atlanta Braves take on the San Diego Padres in PETCO Park on Saturday, June 25, Atlanta area fans, especially those in Gwinnett County, can enjoy FREE “field-level” seats as the Braves host Game on the Green. The June 25th Game on the Green will be telecast live on a giant outdoor movie screen at Suwanee’s Town Center Park.

First pitch is at 8:30 p.m. with festivities beginning at 6:30 p.m. This event is presented by FOX Sports South, SportSouth, 680 The Fan, ROCK 100.5, and Q100. SportSouth’s coverage of the game begins at 8 p.m.

The game will be telecast on a 25’ x 25’ outdoor screen set up at Town Center Park. Pre-game activities include a free concert by Full Circle and appearances by the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Team, Heavy Hitters Drumline, and mascots Homer, Chopper, and Parker. Prizes and giveaways will be available as will a free KidZone play area with t-ball and fast pitch inflatable games, an obstacle course, giant slide, and jump house.

Bring your tomahawks, picnics, blankets, and chairs. Food and beverages, including beer, will be available for purchase, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. The park is located at the intersection of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. Parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street, which is accessible to Town Center via a pedestrian tunnel.


June 13, 2011

TWO HOURS TO SAFER TEEN DRIVING ATTITUDES & BEHAVIORS

With a two-hour investment of time and the assistance of the Suwanee Police Department, parents can help give their teen drivers fresh attitudes and more confidence behind the wheel.

The Suwanee Police Department’s Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error) program will be offered, in cooperation with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway.

This free course makes parents/guardians more aware of their own driving behaviors, assists parents in helping their teens to become safe drivers, and offers strategies for required supervised practice driving time. PRIDE is not a hands-on, “how-to” program.

Class space is limited and advanced registration is required. A parent is required to accompany participating teens. To download an application, visit www.suwanee.com or contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at elias@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612. The registration deadline is June 20.


June 9, 2011

LOVE SUWANEE DAY? JOIN THE CLUB

The Suwanee Day festival is starting its very own fan club this year, and it’s showing members “the love.” Join Club 30024 to help support Suwanee’s annual celebration of community and you can reap the benefits. This year, Suwanee Day is Saturday, September 17.

For a $100 donation to support Suwanee Day, Club 30024 members will receive:

  • two wrist bands for all-day bouncy fun in the children’s area OR two Suwanee Day t-shirts ($20+ value)
  • $10 in Suwanee Bucks, which may be used to purchase art or food at the festival
  • entry to a members-only VIP shade tent, where you also can view the evening concert
  • “first to know” emails about the festival, including entertainment line-up, parade details, etc.
  • photo opportunity with Parker, the City of Suwanee mascot
  • two limited-edition commemorative pins
  • reserved parade viewing area

Those who register by August 12 will be entered in a drawing to win one of four coveted VIP parking spaces for Suwanee Day.

To join Club 30024, download and complete the application at www.suwaneeday.com. A portion of each donation is tax deductible.


May 25, 2011

SUWANEE RESIDENTS TO VOTE ON SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES

On November 8, Suwanee citizens will vote on mayor, two City Council posts, and whether or not to permit off-premises alcoholic beverage sales on Sundays. City Council approved last night an ordinance calling for a special municipal election related to Sunday alcohol package sales.

The Georgia General Assembly approved earlier this year a bill that provides local jurisdictions with the authority to submit the question of Sunday package sales of alcoholic beverages to qualified voters.

If approved by voters, packaged alcoholic beverages could be sold in Suwanee by retailers from 12:30-11:30 p.m. on Sundays.


May 23, 2011

SUWANEE CLOSES ON PROPERTY
FOR POLICE SUBSTATION/TRAINING CENTER

The City of Suwanee closed last week on an approximately one-acre property in its Gateway area on which it plans to build a new police substation and training center. The blighted property near the I-85 interchange currently houses an abandoned BP gas station, car wash, and Waffle House.

The City plans to demolish the existing structures and build, beginning later this year, an approximately 7,000-square foot police substation and training center.

“Placing a police substation in the heavily commercial, heavily traveled Suwanee Gateway area serves several purposes,” says City Manager Marty Allen. “Providing a visible police presence in the Gateway is a key component to ensuring the area’s long-term viability. In addition, it serves an operational need to provide ongoing training opportunities for our police personnel, reducing the need for them to travel to other jurisdictions for such training.”

Allen adds that the substation will serve as an example of the kind of revitalization that the City would like to see take place in the Gateway.

Police Chief Mike Jones envisions “a very visible building that makes a real statement” and that will be utilized as a regional police training facility. “The new substation will provide 24/7 police visibility in the Gateway,” Jones says. “This facility will tell our citizens and visitors that safety in our community is a priority.”

Suwanee has contracted with Atlanta-based TSW to design the substation; TSW will partner with Cincinnati-based law enforcement and fire emergency facilities designer CR-A. The Hogan Construction Group of Norcross has been hired to build the facility. The construction budget for the substation/training center is approximately $1.6 million to be paid using primarily 2009 SPLOST funds.

The City purchased the property for $750,000. Suwanee will receive income of approximately $320,000 from lease payments on an existing billboard that will remain on the property, making the City’s cost for the property $430,000.


May 19, 2011

KICK OFF MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND MUSICALLY

With the help of the Gwinnett Community Band and Silver Wings parachute demonstration team, the City of Suwanee will kick off Memorial Day weekend with a patriotic concert beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, May 27, at Town Center Park. Sponsored by the Gwinnett Daily Post, this event is free and open to the public.

A nonprofit group of musicians from throughout metro Atlanta, the Gwinnett Community Band will perform patriotic marches and other popular favorites. As part of this event, at approximately 7:30 p.m., weather permitting, members of the Silver Wings will drop in – literally – at Town Center Park. Silver Wings is the Command Exhibition Parachute Team of the U.S. Army Infantry and is based at Fort Benning.

Canned good donations will be accepted on behalf of area food co-ops. Those who donate five non-perishable food items will receive a City of Suwanee reusable bag.

Parking is available at Town Center Park, located at the intersection of Buford Highway and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, and across the railroad tracks on Main Street (take the pedestrian underpass to Town Center). Bring picnic baskets, blankets, chairs, and canned goods, but no alcohol please.


May 18, 2011

SUWANEE UNVEILS SCULPTOUR

Heads are literally turning as folks who drive or walk through Suwanee’s Town Center notice something new. Make that 15 somethings new! Fifteen outdoor sculptures have been installed throughout Town Center – it’s all part of the inaugural Suwanee SculpTour, a public arts initiative that officially opens Saturday, May 21, during the Arts in the Park festival.

The sculptures, representing various styles, materials, and sizes, are on loan from a dozen different artists and will be exhibited in Suwanee through March of next year. Citizens will be invited to vote for their favorite sculpture via www.suwanee.com beginning in July; the sculpture with the most votes at the end of the exhibit in March will be the “People’s Choice” and purchased as part of the City’s permanent art collection. 

“The City of Suwanee values public art as a key component in our economic development efforts – great cities, big or small, have public art,” says Denise Brinson, economic and community development director. “The SculpTour provides a relatively low-cost way to bring quality public art of various styles and mediums to our community. Our hope is that the art pieces will engage our citizens and bring new visitors to downtown Suwanee.”

The 2011 Suwanee SculpTour is funded by generous private sponsors: Georgia Natural Gas, Peoples Bank & Trust, and Ssam’s Grill + Café. The Gwinnett Convention & Visitors Bureau and Ippolito’s Italian Restaurant also have provided funding support.

The sculptures – and other examples of permanent public art – have been arranged as an approximately one-mile walking tour; a brochure with a map and information about each of the pieces is available at City Hall.

In selecting the 15 sculptures from more than 30 art pieces submitted, Suwanee’s Public Arts Commission considered quality of workmanship, originality, structural soundness, ease of installation, and general community appeal. The pieces and artists selected were:

  • Amne and Dreams of Flying by Harry Zmijewski (Buford, GA)
  • Arachnid by Damon Lusky (Dawsonville, GA)
  • Bright Idea by Lori Sturgess (Roswell, GA)
  • Catching the Wind by Gregory Johnson (Cumming, GA)
  • Deconstructed Bolt by Andrew T. Crawford (Atlanta, GA)
  • Free Spirit and Ribbon Dance by Jennifer Freeman (Johns Creek, GA)
  • Intrusion by Harry McDaniel (Asheville, NC)
  • Magic Rain and Sunset by Gus and Lina Ocamposilva (Clearwater, FL)
  • Mother & Child by Eluisa Altman (Bogota, NJ)
  • Prayer Booth by Dylan Mortimer (Kansas City, MO)
  • Sticks 7 by Dennis Primm (Buford, GA)
  • Sunbeam II by Sydney Atkinson (Woodstock, GA)

“I love that each of the sculptures has such a distinctive personality,” says Brinson. “In the best tradition of public art, some of these pieces are sure to be conversation-starters.”


May 16, 2011

TOAST TO SUMMER

Come raise a toast…dance to a favorite tune…enjoy a good meal or a great deal as the May 26 Toast @ Town Center celebrates the fact that “School’s (Almost) Out for Summer!”

As part of the festivities from 6-10 p.m., Gwinnett Church is hosting a free concert by the A-Town A-List band on the Town Center stage. A metro variety band, A-Town A-List performs pop music from the past 60 years, from the Temptations to Black-Eyed Peas, Frank Sinatra to Michael Buble, and CCR to Train.

Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events on the fourth Thursday of each month through October. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.


May 12, 2011

SUWANEE OFFERS TRAINING FOR PARK AMBASSADORS

The Suwanee Police Department is recruiting volunteers to staff its new Park Ambassador program. A training program for volunteers will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 31; those who are interested must sign up by Monday, May 23, by contacting Ofc. Elias Casanas at ecasanas@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612.

Slated to begin in June, the program is an extension of the police department’s community policing philosophy.

“These ambassadors will be our eyes and ears in the parks,” says Police Chief Mike Jones. “The volunteers can report any damage they may see or suspicious individuals as well as offer visitors basic information about Suwanee’s parks. We envision that these volunteers, in cooperation with the police department, will ultimately enhance the safety and friendliness of Suwanee’s Greenway and parks.”

Identified by their bright yellow t-shirts imprinted with the Suwanee S logo, park ambassadors will not have any law enforcement powers. Rather, they will be trained to be sentinels who can assist residents and alert the police department or public works department to matters that may require their attention.

All potential volunteers must undergo a criminal background check before participating in the training session. Volunteers also should have their own transportation as well as access to a cell phone and computer and be at least 19 years old.


May 5, 2011

RESIDENTS CAN ROOT FOR HOME TEAM FOR LESS
AT SUWANEE NIGHT WITH THE GWINNETT BRAVES

Suwanee residents are invited to gather family and friends and head out for an evening of community camaraderie, up-close professional baseball, and discounted tickets on Thursday, May 19, when it’s Suwanee Night at Coolray Field. The hometown Gwinnett Braves will take on the Rochester Red Wings at 7:05 p.m.

Advance tickets are available at www.gwinnettbraves.com/suwanee; the promo code is, you guessed it, SUWANEE. Discounted tickets also may be purchased at the gate with proof of residency.

The seats being offered to Suwanee residents are:
Baseline box seats: $6 each (normally $8)
Field box seats: $8 each (normally $12)
Infield box seats: $12 each (normally $15)

May 19 also happens to be Taste of Gwinnett Night at Coolray Field. Attendees will have an opportunity to sample tasty treats from an array of Gwinnett restaurants.

City Councilmember and G-Braves fan Dan Foster says of the Triple AAA games: “It’s a great value for your entertainment dollar. I don’t know of another activity that you can take your family to for that price range, for that period of time, and for that much fun.”


April 28, 2011

RAISE THE WOOF FOR STAR 94’s PET PARTY IN THE PARK

Tongues will be lolling and tails will be wagging when Star 94’s Woofstock returns to Suwanee’s Town Center Park on Saturday, May 7. In addition to dog demonstrations, clinics, and contests, Woofstock features an impressive musical line-up for two-legged attendees with Sister Hazel headlining.

The tail-wagging fun begins at noon with dog sports demonstrations in agility, lure coursing, and Frisbee starting at 1 p.m. More than 30 pet vendors and 15 non-profit and rescue groups will be on hand as will inflatables for children. Contests for biggest dog, smallest dog, pet/owner look-alike, and best dressed pet will be held throughout the day.

Admission to Woofstock is free, and dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, etc. are welcome. All animals must be on a leash, and owners are reminded to please clean up after their pets.

Sister Hazel will perform at 6:30 p.m. This Gainesville, Florida, alternative rock band enjoys an almost 20-year career and close ties to its fans through Rock Boat excursions and its annual “Hazelnut Hang” on South Carolina’s Isle of Palms. Sister Hazel’s most recent album, Heartland Highway, was released last fall; the band’s biggest hit was 1997’s All for You.

Also performing on the Town Center stage during Woofstock are Ingram Hill, a Memphis-based rock trio, at 4:30 p.m. and soulful Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Gareth Asher at 5:15 p.m.

Food and drinks, including beer and wine, may be purchased. No alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Limited parking is available at and around Town Center Park and along nearby Main Street. Off-site parking will be available at 300 Shawnee North Drive. A free shuttle will run between Shawnee North Drive and Town Center Park from 1 p.m. until shortly after the conclusion of the event at approximately 8 p.m. Small pets (those that fit easily on one’s lap) are welcome on the shuttle.

For updated information about Woofstock, visit www.suwanee.com or www.star94.com.


April 27, 2011

SUWANEE UPDATES PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE PLAN

City Council adopted an update to the 2007 Alternate Modes Transportation Plan last night. The new plan, called Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, identifies 50 improvement projects to be implemented over a period of time ranging from this year to beyond 2030 at a total cost of almost $11 million.

The 13 top-priority projects, identified in Tier I, are slated to be implemented through 2015 at an estimated cost of $1.7 million, provided that funding can be identified. These projects include:

  • “sharrow” pavement markings and signage for along the right side of travel lanes on roads with lower traffic volumes, which re-enforce cyclists’ authorization to use the road and not the gutter
  • intersection modifications (e.g., pedestrian countdown timers, raised islands, and streetlight improvements) and installation of a pedestrian hybrid beacon that will make crossing Peachtree Industrial Boulevard safer
  • installation of small pieces of sidewalk along Martin Farm Road, Scales Road, Buford Highway, Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and Suwanee Creek Road where there are gaps in the existing system.

“This plan,” notes Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell, “will serve as a guide for implementing pedestrian and bicycle facilities that will continue to enhance Suwanee as a walkable community. We’ll reassess the plan and priorities regularly as we complete projects, obtain funding, and determine firmer costs.”

The City plans to use SPLOST monies, grants, and other funding sources for these projects; completion of projects will depend upon funding availability.

The updated Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan is available on the Documents and Downloads page at www.suwanee.com.


April 21, 2011

SUWANEE FARMERS MARKET OPENS MAY 3:
‘IT’S ALL ABOUT…KNOWING WHO’S GROWING YOUR FOOD’

For Scott Piehler and his family, the opening of the Suwanee Farmers Market on May 3 means peaches, fresh eggs, vegetables harvested that week, delicious baked goods, and having a personal relationship with the people who grow the food they eat.

“We like to eat local when we can,” says Piehler, a Suwanee area resident who shops the Suwanee Farmers Market every Saturday it’s open and often on Tuesdays as well. “Really, it’s all about the fresh produce and knowing who’s growing your food…. I don’t care how good an article grown in California or Florida is, it can’t touch something that was grown 10 miles down the road.”

The Suwanee Farmers Market opens for the season Tuesday, May 3. It will be open at Town Center Park from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through August 2 and 8 a.m.-noon every Saturday (except September 17) through October 1. The market will feature up to 28 vendors offering fresh produce as well as meat and eggs, bread, granola, spices, baked goods, canned sauces and jellies, and honey. (Spaces for the 2011 market are full; no additional vendors are being accepted.)

For Vicky Fry and her husband, Steve, who run the 12-acre Fry Farm 25 miles east of Suwanee in northern Walton County, 2011 will mark the fourth season that they’ve sold produce at the Suwanee Farmers Market. Fry describes the market as comfortable, easy-going, and friendly with a well-educated customer base.

“The customers are very interested in where the food is coming from, who’s growing it, and how it’s handled,” says Fry, who admits that it’s occasionally a challenge to grow produce without any chemical fertilizers or pesticides as her customers have made clear they prefer. “We feel a huge responsibility to our customers to have quality products. Usually, we pick the produce we bring to the market the day before.”

Fry enjoys being on a first-name basis with her customers and having a friendly camaraderie with her fellow farmers. “The farmers at the market are from different regions so there’s not a lot of [head-to-head] competition. We may have the same things occasionally but rarely at the same time. My loyal customers are other farmers’ loyal customers, too.”

Fry says that they’ll have asparagus, spinach, Swiss chard, green onions, kale, lettuce, radishes, arugula, and carrots when the Suwanee market opens May 3. They won’t have strawberries until a week or two later (although other farmers will likely have them May 3), and blackberries won’t come in until the first of June. And, Fry notes, the earliest they’ve harvested the perennial favorite tomatoes is the second week of June.


April 20, 2011

SUWANEE PD TO COLLECT UNUSED PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
AS PART OF NATIONAL ‘TAKE BACK’ PROGRAM

To help prevent prescription drug abuse, the Suwanee Police Department is once again participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “Take Back” event. The Suwanee Police Department and law enforcement agencies across the country will accept – no questions asked – expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Please note that due to storage and disposal issues, this is the only timeframe during which the police department can accept prescription drugs.

During the inaugural program last September, Americans turned in 121 tons of prescription drugs at 4,100 sites. More than 20 pounds was collected in Suwanee.

“We had a good turn out and a positive response in Suwanee last fall,” says Sgt. Bryan Hickey. “The Take Back program is designed to eliminate unused prescriptions from medicine cabinets, making them less accessible and tempting to teens and others. The Suwanee PD is happy to be part of that effort.”

The Take Back campaign allows residents to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications in a safe, legal, and environmentally sound manner. Flushing prescriptions and other medications down the toilet or throwing them away in the trash pose potential safety and health hazards.

Medications may be dropped at the Suwanee Police Department and other locations anonymously. Intravenous solutions, injected medications, and needles will NOT be accepted. Illicit substances, such as marijuana and methamphetamine, also are not part of this initiative.

For more information about Suwanee’s participation in this program, contact Sgt. Bryan Hickey at bhickey@suwanee.com or 770-904-7609.


April 18, 2011

Suwanee bucks national trend
S&P UPGRADES CITY’S RATING

According to a March 3 article in the New York Times Magazine, “Cities across America are facing dire financial distress” and are in danger of defaulting on bonds. According to Standard & Poor’s, the City of Suwanee is bucking that national trend.

On April 1, Standard & Poor’s raised its rating on Suwanee’s general obligation debt one notch to AA from AA-. The international financial-market intelligence company based its upgrade on the City’s historically strong financial position and solid economic foundation.

“The fact that S&P, an independent, conservative financial analyst, looked at the City of Suwanee during a regular annual review and found us to be strong in this turbulent economic environment is really positive,” says Amie Sakmar, Suwanee’s financial services director. “It means that the City of Suwanee as a team is doing a lot of things right, fiscally and managerially. This rating upgrade came about because of policies, standards, and practices that we’ve implemented over a period of time.”

In its rationale for the upgrade, S&P noted Suwanee’s inclusion in the deep and diverse Atlanta metropolitan market; the City’s historically strong financial performance, including maintenance of “very strong” operating reserves; implementation of several key financial management policies; and low overall net debt levels.

With this upgrade, the City of Suwanee’s rating from both leading international financial rating agencies stands at AA. Last year, Fitch Ratings recalibrated its rating of the City to AA.


April 18, 2011

PAINT THE TOWN PURPLE AT TOAST @ TOWN CENTER

Once again this year, the City of Suwanee and Town Center merchants are putting together good meals…good deals…and good times to entice folks to come out for the monthly Toast @ Town Center street festival.

Toast @ Town Center is a regular event through which merchants offer special deals, entertainment, and in-store events from 6-10 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month, April through October. Town Center Avenue is closed and a street-festival atmosphere is created. Patrons may purchase drinks at Town Center restaurants – coffee, sodas, beer, and wine – and take them from shop to shop and within the park.

The first Toast @ Town Center event of 2011 will be held on Thursday, April 28. The April event has a Paint the Town Purple theme, and 10 percent of each participating Town Center merchant’s proceeds from the evening will be donated to support the City of Suwanee team taking part in the Gwinnett County Relay for Life on May 6.

“We’re bringing renewed energy to this monthly event,” says City of Suwanee Downtown and Business Development Manager Alison Starnes. “We’re so excited for folks to come out and enjoy the live music and the street-festival atmosphere. And the merchants have really gotten into the Paint the Town Purple theme in a fun way. For example, one restaurant may serve up sandwiches on purple bread and a hair salon is putting on a streaking event – hair streaking, that is.”

In addition, the Gwinnett Chamber’s Young Professionals organization, hYPe, will host its monthly Thursday Schmoozeday beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Mellow Mushroom as part of April’s Toast @ Town Center. The hYPe gathering is open to all young professionals (ages 21-39) seeking networking opportunities.


April 14, 2011

‘ART ON A LIMB’ BLOOMS ON SUWANEE TRAILS

It’s just about that time of year again…when the flowers are in bloom, the trails in Suwanee begin to get busy, and the folks using those trails can find, literally, Art on a Limb.

Art on a Limb is the City of Suwanee’s annual “finders keepers” program designed to promote an appreciation for art as well as the Suwanee Creek Greenway and other City trails. Each day throughout the month of May, the City places two pieces of original artwork along the trails to be discovered and claimed by those running, strolling, or rolling along.

Last year, Sarah West found an Art on a Limb piece at Suwanee Creek Park. “What a great surprise to just finish a run and get such a lovely little piece of artwork,” she wrote to tell the City. “I was thrilled!”

This year’s Art on a Limb piece is a steel, ring-shaped candle lantern with an S-shaped hook created out of two horseshoes welded together. The artist is John Wareham, a relatively new Suwanee resident who moved to the community with his family last August.

Wareham, who in previous careers worked as an interactive media manager and landscape designer, now is a part-time fabricator at a local shop. He is working through his company, WarehamWelds, to establish himself as creator of high-end furniture and other interior functional pieces made of steel; he also has an interest in creating public art pieces.

“I like taking raw material that basically looks like a pile of steel and shaping it and designing it into a final product,” Wareham says, “and then starting over again, and the next project is completely different.”

The idea for the Art on a Limb pieces, he says, stemmed from game ball holders he had created for his avid Little Leaguer-son out a bucket of steel rings. While re-fashioning the piece for Art on a Limb, Wareham realized that he’d have to provide a way for the candle lantern to hang and he wanted to incorporate something that would identify Suwanee, thus the horseshoe-formed S.

Wareham’s candle lanterns may be found, two each day, along Suwanee’s trails – specifically the Suwanee Creek Greenway, Sims Lake Park trail, and White Street Park trail – May 1-31.


April 13, 2011

PITCH A TENT OVERNIGHT AT SIMS LAKE PARK

Area residents are invited to spend a night on Suwanee’s “wild” side. The Great American Campout is returning to Sims Lake Park Saturday, April 30. Participants can spend quality time camping with their family overnight in the great outdoors. It’s the most fun one can have in a 20 x 20 campsite – and an award-winning 61-acre park!

“The campout was great fun last year,” says Suwanee area resident Kim Towne. “We loved the music, the friends, the toasted marshmallows!”

The camping area will open at 6 p.m.  All campers must register in advance; applications are available at www.suwanee.com. Campsites are $25 each, and proceeds support the Suwanee SculpTour public arts initiative. Campers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Boosterthon representatives will host family games around the lake from 7-10 p.m.; be sure to bring flashlights. Other items to bring include tents, sleeping bags, non-alcoholic beverages, food, and bug spray. A light snack (s’mores and trail mix) will be provided.

Camp breaks at 8 a.m. Sunday, May 1.


April 13, 2011

BALLOON EVENTS FOR WEEKEND CANCELED;
LITTLE RIVER BAND CONCERT STILL ON

Due to a gusty, unpredictable weather forecast for Friday and Saturday, the City of Suwanee has canceled the Glow in the Gateway and Balloons & Breakfast events scheduled for April 15 and 16. The City will attempt to reschedule these events for the fall.

“There’s a possibility of thunderstorms this weekend and, equally as important, the forecast calls for gusty winds,” says Suwanee Events Coordinator Amy Doherty. “For the safety of the crowd and the balloon pilots, Mother Nature has forced us to cancel these events for this weekend.”

The Little River Band concert and other Atlanta’s Greatest Hits Birthday Bash activities will go on, as weather allows, on Saturday, April 16, at Town Center Park. The forecast calls for clearing Saturday afternoon, and the concert will take place rain or shine; only thunderstorms would delay the event. Atlanta’s Greatest Hits Birthday Bash activities begin at noon, with GLOW taking the stage at 4 p.m. and Little River Band at 7 p.m.


March 22, 2011

ENGAGING PHILADELPHIA FIRM SELECTED TO COORDINATE SUWANEE’S STRATEGIC PLANNING INITIATIVE

Interface Studio of Philadelphia, a full-service planning and urban design practice founded in 2004, has been selected to coordinate the City of Suwanee’s 20/20 Vision strategic planning initiative.

20/20 Vision is a community-intensive effort to create a long-term, big-picture strategic plan for this award-winning community of about 15,500 people. The City of Suwanee will soon launch community conversations and other community-engagement strategies with the assistance of Interface Studio and its two Atlanta-based partner firms for this project, Market + Main, Inc. and Pond|Ecos.

“We selected a highly qualified team of local and out-of-town talent,” says City Manager Marty Allen. “Interface brings an astounding amount of energy and creativity to public involvement. They proposed an approach that is consistent with our culture and goals.”

In a November 2010 National Citizen Survey, Suwanee residents rated their community number one (compared to a national benchmark of 500 other jurisdictions who utilized the survey) for “the job Suwanee government does at welcoming citizen involvement.” Allen notes that Interface has a proven track record in meeting those kinds of expectations, employing nontraditional, varied, and graphic-intensive strategies to engage the community.

In its proposal, Interface describes its style as approachable, artistic, and playful. The company has relied on several key principles, including being rigorous about data and presentation and listening carefully, in its work on planning initiatives with a variety of cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Macon, and Detroit.

“This strategic plan may be the most important thing we’ve undertaken in the past few years,” says Allen. “It will impact the way of life in Suwanee.”


March 22, 2011

DESIGNER SELECTED FOR POLICE SUBSTATION

The City of Suwanee has contracted with Atlanta-based TSW for design and pre-construction services related to a new police substation and training center to be built in the Suwanee Gateway area. TSW will partner with Cincinnati-based law enforcement and fire emergency facilities designer CR-A in designing the substation, expected to be approximately 7,000 square feet.

Construction may begin as early as late this year on the substation/training facility, located on an approximately 1.1-acre parcel on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road where a BP gas station previously sat. The City currently has the property under contract and expects to close on it later this spring.

“Placing a police substation in the heavily commercial, heavily traveled Suwanee Gateway area serves several purposes,” notes City Manager Marty Allen. “Most importantly, it serves an operational need to provide ongoing training opportunities for our police personnel, reducing the need for them to travel to other jurisdictions for such training.”

The new training center, says Suwanee Police Chief Mike Jones will promote professionalism, academics, and tactical techniques.

In addition, Jones says: “The new substation will provide 24/7 police visibility in the Gateway. This facility will tell our citizens and visitors that safety in our community is a priority.”

Allen adds that the substation will serve as an example of the kind of revitalization that the City would like to see take place in the Gateway.

The TSW team was selected to design the facility because of its experience with projects of similar scoop and because its design style is consistent with the City’s vision. “What was particularly strong about TSW’s approach,” says Allen, “is that they understand that this needs to be a functional building that has beneficial impacts on the surrounding environment.”

The Suwanee Police Department substation will be designed and constructed using SPLOST public safety funds. The City of Suwanee will pay TSW $118,220 for design and pre-construction services.


March 16, 2011

APPLICATIONS FOR A ‘TOP 20’ FESTIVAL NOW BEING ACCEPTED

The Suwanee Day festival, named a Top 20 event for September 2011 by the Southeast Tourism Society, is looking for fine artists, talented craftspeople, and food vendors with a flair for flavor. Exhibitor applications for the annual family festival are now being accepted at www.suwaneeday.com.

The 2011 festival will be celebrated on Saturday, September 17. Each year, about 40,000 people come to Town Center Park to enjoy shopping, crafts, children’s activities, and on-stage entertainment.

“This is the best organized show that I’ve been to in a long time,” said glass artist Joanne Paller of last year’s festival. “An A+ for organization! All of the volunteers have been wonderful.”

Don and Beth Voit of Dandy Cotton Candy added: “Wanted to let you know we had the busiest day we have ever had running our little business. We had so much fun interacting with the crowd and being part of the event.”

The deadline for exhibitor applications is June 1.


March 7, 2011

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO PLANT TREES

Citizens are invited to dig in and help plant trees at White Street Park as the City of Suwanee commemorates Arbor Day on Saturday, March 26. Ten fruit trees, including apple, peach, and pear, will be planted at the park beginning at 9 a.m.

About a dozen volunteers are needed to assist with the planting. Those who are interested are asked to contact City Planner Daniel Robinson at drobinson@suwanee.com or 770-904-3381 by Wednesday, March 23. Volunteers will receive a red maple seedling.

This marks the 21st year that the City of Suwanee has been recognized as a Tree City USA.


March 4, 2011

SUWANEE EVENTS MORE THAN JUST A GOOD TIME:
THEY’RE ALSO AWARD-WINNING

The City of Suwanee’s signature family festival and another event were named Kaleidoscope Award winners during the Southeast Festivals and Events Association conference held last month at Stone Mountain.

The annual Suwanee Day festival received recognition in three categories, winning silver awards for Best Festival (with a budget under $75,000) and Best Volunteer and taking home a bronze for Best Green Component.

The Best Volunteer award recognizes Doug Schwendy, who has served as transportation chair on the Suwanee Day planning committee for the past three years. In addition to assisting with pre-planning festival parking and shuttle transportation routes, Schwendy puts in a nearly endless day at the festival ensuring that festival transportation and off-site parking run smoothly.

Suwanee won a fourth award in the Best Event Within an Event category for the Chalk Walk Art competition that is a component of its springtime Arts in the Park festival.

“We’re proud to provide several fun, quality events for our citizens each year,” says Events Coordinator Amy Doherty. “Our events not only entertain, but, we believe, they also enhance the sense of community and quality of life here in Suwanee.”


March 2, 2011

SNAP SUWANEE EXHIBIT OPENS

Suwanee locales and people are featured in the 13 photos selected as winners of the 2011 Snap Suwanee competition. The photos were chosen from among 114 entries received from 35 shutterbugs and are on exhibit through the remainder of the year on the first floor of City Hall.

If there was a common theme among the entries, it would be the snow that arrived in Suwanee, both in February and on Christmas day of last year. More than two dozen of the entries featured snow.

“It’s wonderful to see our community through the eyes – and camera lens – of our citizens,” says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. “The exhibit of winning photographs provides an opportunity to pause and appreciate the beauty and many amenities that Suwanee offers.”

Winning photographers include Suwanee residents Donna Charpentier, Natasha Fullard, Janet George, Dave Gillett, Michael Howard, Cris Koenigs, Mary Shaffer, Laura Shinliver, and Sandy Weaver. Other winners include Chrissy Jones of Dacula, Keri McDaniel of Lawrenceville, Jessica Roth of Snellville, and Steve White of Sugar Hill.


March 1, 2011

GO GAGA FOR GET IT IN THE GATEWAY

Get It in the Gateway, the City of Suwanee’s Facebook-fueled promotional campaign to bring awareness to Suwanee Gateway businesses and prizes to participants, is returning this spring. In order to entice residents to discover some of the eclectic businesses in Suwanee’s oldest commercial district, Suwanee Gateway businesses will offer area residents a chance to win daily prizes Thursday, March 10, through Sunday, March 13.

Participants can get clued in to the featured businesses –which they can then visit in order to register for that day’s prizes – on the City’s Facebook page and via www.suwanee.com. In addition to daily prizes, all registrants will be eligible for the grand prize drawing for a pair of tickets to the April 18 Lady GaGa concert at the Gwinnett Arena.

“We changed the timing of Get It in the Gateway this year to include the weekend in order to encourage more people to participate,” says Special Projects Coordinator Toni Shrewsbury. “The program really offers a fun way to learn more about the community, meet some terrific businesspeople, and maybe win a great prize.”

Last year, Get It in the Gateway received an Award of Excellence from the City/County Communications and Marketing Association for Most Creative Activity with Least Dollars Spent.

“I’m finding new places,” wrote 2010 participant Cathie Boron on the City’s Facebook page during last year’s promotion. “You just drive by them all the time, but never have time to stop and see all the shops. This makes you go in and see what they are all about.”


February 22, 2011

SURVEY SAYS…SUWANEE RESIDENTS RATE THEIR COMMUNITY
AMONG BEST IN NATION IN MANY AREAS

Think about it, it’s difficult to get nine out of ten people to agree on anything these days. But, Suwanee residents agree: 96 percent would recommend living in Suwanee to someone who asked.

Indeed, according to recently released National Citizen Survey data, City of Suwanee residents find a lot to like about their community. They like the overall quality of life in Suwanee, the availability of walking trails, and cleanliness of the community. They really, really like the preservation of natural areas and the job the Suwanee government does in welcoming citizen involvement. They’re not so crazy about traffic flow on major streets or ease of bus travel, but residents have to like how their community measures up nationally.

The National Citizen Survey (NCS), a statistically valid survey of resident opinions about community services provided by local governments, was distributed in November to 1,200 randomly selected households in Suwanee. The response rate was 30 percent, with 334 surveys returned. The 2010 results have been compared to 2008 Suwanee NCS results as well as national and regional benchmarks. National benchmarks are comprised of resident perspectives gathered via citizen surveys from approximately 500 jurisdictions.

Suwanee was rated above the national benchmark in 63 areas when considering community characteristics and local government services. In two areas, Suwanee was rated as similar to the benchmark; it was rated below the benchmark in two areas as well. The survey implemented by Suwanee used 120 different questions to measure the City’s performance in 31 community characteristic areas and 36 service areas. Residents’ responses to those 120 questions, when compared to the national benchmark, placed Suwanee in the 90th percentile or above 54 times and gave the City a top-10 ranking nationally on 28 of those questions.

In two areas, residents’ responses put Suwanee in the number one position nationally. Suwanee residents were the most satisfied nationally with their community’s preservation of natural areas, such as open space, (86% of residents rated this as excellent or good in Suwanee) and with the job the Suwanee government does at welcoming citizen involvement (80% of respondents rated this as excellent or good). Other areas where Suwanee scored a top-10 national ranking or better include Suwanee as a place to live (98% rated as excellent or good); overall appearance (93% excellent or good); City parks (95% excellent or good); sense of community (86%); opportunity to participate in social events and activities (85%); overall reputation/image of Suwanee (93%); and services provided by the City of Suwanee (87%).

“No matter how you look at the data – and there are many ways to do so – the news is great for Suwanee,” says Mayor Dave Williams. “Whether we look at how our residents rate our services and characteristics, or how survey results compare to those in 2008, or how Suwanee measures up nationally against some 500 other jurisdictions that have utilized the National Citizen Survey, our results are outstanding.”

“We’re pleased that our citizens support the direction that the City is taking,” says City Manager Marty Allen. “It’s always kind of nerve-wracking to ask the hard questions. I’m proud that our Council is committed to measuring citizen sentiment because it only makes us better.”

The approximately 500 communities included in the NCS database range in size from 1,250 in Hutto, Texas to 1,517,550 in Philadelphia. Suwanee, with a population of approximately, 16,750, is among 12 Georgia communities included in the database. Other metro Atlanta communities who have utilized the NCS include Alpharetta, Catersville, Conyers, Decatur, Milton, Roswell, Smyrna, and Snellville.

“The overall message from these results is that citizens support the direction that the City’s heading in and that we’re on track in areas where we largely control our own destiny,” says Allen. “At the same time, we realize that we must be mindful of those areas in which we can improve and work to make an impact regionally where we can.”

Suwanee’s 2010 NCS also included five policy questions related specifically to Suwanee. Three of the questions sought to gauge citizen support for public art, a permanent police presence in the Suwanee Gateway/I-85 business district, and the use of video cameras for safety purposes at public parks.  Seventy-two percent of respondents felt that providing art in public spaces would add “a lot” or “some” value to the quality of life in Suwanee. In regard to a permanent police presence in the Gateway area, 86% of respondents “strongly” or “somewhat” support while 85% “strongly” or “somewhat” support the use of video cameras for safety purposes in public parks.

Another Suwanee-specific question related to the importance of certain factors in residents’ decision to move to Suwanee. Respondents who had moved to Suwanee since 2005 rated the following areas as essential or very important: community appearance (86%), police/public safety (82%), Suwanee’s image/reputation (82%), overall community feel/vibe (81%), and county-run school system (80%).

The NCS, a joint program of the National Research Center and the International City/County Management Association, measures community characteristic and government services in eight categories: community quality, community design, public safety, environmental sustainability, recreation and wellness, community inclusiveness, civic engagement, and public trust.

A presentation about Suwanee’s National Citizen Survey results will be offered Tuesday, March 22, during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.


February 21, 2011

SUWANEE’S 2011 EVENT SEASON AGLOW WITH FUN

The City of Suwanee’s 2011 community events season begins in April with a glow, that is a hot-air balloon glow in the Suwanee Gateway, the City’s oldest commercial district. Near the end of the season in November, the community will toast the 10th anniversary of its award-winning and quality of life-transforming open space initiative with a Progressive Parks Party. And in between, there are an arts festival, pet party, concerts, farmers markets, movie nights, an overnight campout, races, a taste of Broadway, and, of course, Suwanee Day.

The City of Suwanee’s 2011 events calendar includes more than 40 events, either sponsored by the City of Suwanee, often in partnership with other organizations, or organized by private groups. All events on the 2011 calendar are open to the public and almost all are free. The full 2011 schedule is available at www.suwanee.com on the What’s New/Events page.

Most City of Suwanee events take place at Town Center Park, but some events are scheduled at other parks and in historic Old Town as well.

Suwanee kicks off the event season with a double-header weekend April 15 and 16. Glow in the Gateway, the hot-air balloon glow, takes place Friday evening, April 15. The next day, a Breakfast & Balloons event will be held in the morning while Atlanta’s Greatest Hits Birthday Bash begins at noon. The Birthday Bash will feature the Little River Band performing on the Town Center stage about 7 p.m.


February 10, 2011

40 NEW ‘RESIDENTS’ TAKE ROOT IN SUWANEE

When the City of Suwanee conducted a tree inventory in late 2009, it found that the community had 3,866 public trees in parks, medians, and along streets. It also found that, while most of the trees were healthy, some had died, others were in need of maintenance, and still others would require careful monitoring. This week, in an effort to more proactively manage Suwanee’s urban forest, the City planted 40 trees, replacing those that had died.

Seventeen of those 40 trees were planted along Main Street, seven at Sims Lake Park, and four in the median along Suwanee Dam/Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road; the remainder are scattered throughout the community.

Russell Landscape Group was contracted to plant the trees at an approximate cost of $12,000. The dead trees were replaced with the same specimen of tree, except for along Main Street, where elms replaced Bradford Pear trees. All of the new trees are a minimum of 3 inches in diameter and 6 feet in height, though most are at least 10 feet tall.

“Trees are beneficial in so many ways,” says City Planner Daniel Robinson. “They add to property values; provide for safer streets, slowing traffic and creating a buffer between sidewalks and streets; and they offer shade. The fact that Suwanee has been a Tree City USA for 20 years demonstrates our commitment to healthy trees.”


February 10, 2011

ARTISTS INVITED TO SHOW ARTWORK & PROCESS AT MAY FESTIVAL

The North Gwinnett Arts Association and City of Suwanee will host the annual Arts in the Park celebration on Saturday, May 21. Hundreds of people will come to Town Center Park to celebrate, appreciate, and witness art in all its various, wonderful forms, from fine art to performance art.

Artists, especially those willing to demonstrate or educate the public about their art form, are encouraged to be part of this exciting event. Exhibitors will be selected through a jury process, and the number of artists in each category will be limited. Juried artists are eligible for prize money totaling $2,000.

“We’re looking for handcrafted, unique artistry that can be demonstrated on site,” says Vickie Johnson, president of the North Gwinnett Arts Association. “We realize that not all art forms, like glasswork for example, may be appropriate for demonstration, but the process can still be explained through photos or before-and-after examples. This event is designed to be a fun and educational experience for attendees.”

More information and an exhibitor application are available at www.suwaneeartsinthepark.com. The booth fee is $75, which includes all jurying fees. The application deadline is April 1.

The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) was formed last year for artists and art lovers to provide opportunities to increase knowledge, skills, and friendships. Based in Suwanee, the NGAA has nearly 100 members.


February 3, 2011

SUWANEE SEEKS ARTISTS FOR OUTDOOR SCULPTURE EXHIBIT

Suwanee’s Public Arts Commission has issued a Call to Artists/Request for Proposals (RFP) for original outdoor sculptures to be featured in the debut of this spring’s Suwanee SculpTour. Depending upon available funding – all support is provided through private individuals and companies – 10-20 sculptures of various styles, types, and sizes will be exhibited throughout downtown Suwanee beginning in May.

“The City of Suwanee values public art as a key component to creating a world-class community,” says Denise Brinson, economic and community development director. “The SculpTour provides a relatively low-cost way to bring quality public art of various styles and mediums to our community. Our hope is that the art pieces will engage our citizens and bring new visitors to downtown Suwanee.”

Artists may submit up to three original sculptures for consideration. Selected artists will receive a stipend of up to $1,000 and be eligible to win cash awards totaling more than $5,000. The RFP is available at www.suwanee.com on the Business Matters/Requests for Proposals page. The deadline for submissions is March 1.

Artwork selected will essentially be on loan to the City throughout the SculpTour, scheduled for May 2011-March 2012, with the possibility at the end of the exhibit, again depending upon funding, that the City will purchase one or more of the pieces for display in one of Suwanee’s public spaces.

Submissions will be evaluated based upon originality/creativity, relation to architecture and themes of downtown Suwanee, general community appeal, maintenance/longevity, quality of materials and execution, ease of installation, and other factors.


February 1, 2011

GET A GLIMPSE BEHIND THE BADGE

The next session of Suwanee’s Citizens Police Academy will begin Tuesday, March 1. This eight-week, hands-on program allows participants a chance to get to know many of Suwanee’s officers personally and provides a better understanding of the responsibilities and risks of being a police officer – plus it’s a lot of fun!

Consider these comments from two participants in last fall’s program:

“I particularly enjoyed the building search and burglaries [activities]. Overall, the entire program has made me more aware and smarter about my environment.”

“[Citizens Police Academy] is a great way for the citizens of Suwanee to become educated about the police and to help support them.”

The deadline for applying to the program is February 18. Applications are available at www.suwanee.com.

Class sessions will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning March 1. Some of the topics covered include crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification. Classes meet in the training center at the Suwanee Police Department, 373 Buford Highway. For more information, contact Ofc. Elias Casanas at ecasanas@suwanee.com or 770-904-7612.


January 27, 2011

CALLING GREEN THUMBS, TALENTED BAKERS, & JELLY MAKERS

Got a green thumb? Do you like to play in the dirt? Are you itching to get your garden planted or maybe you have a winter garden?

If you answered “oh, yes!” to any of these questions, then you may be interested in applying to be a vendor at one of Gwinnett’s oldest and most popular farmers markets. Applications for the 2011 Suwanee Farmers Market are available online at www.suwanee.com and will be accepted during the annual meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 28, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. Applications will not be accepted before the annual meeting.

Interested vendors are strongly encouraged to attend the annual meeting, which offers vendors an opportunity to discuss guidelines and provide copies of current state licenses as well as submit applications.

Beginning May 3, the Suwanee Farmers Market, now entering its eighth year, will be open at Town Center Park from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through August 2 and 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays through October 1. Farmers and gardeners with fresh produce will receive first preference, but the market also is open to appropriately licensed vendors offering baked goods; jams, jelly, and honey; meat products; eggs and other dairy products; and plants. Arts and crafts items will not be accepted.

For additional information, visit www.suwanee.com or contact Events Coordinator Amy Doherty at adoherty@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.


January 21, 2011

AU NATURALE AMPHITHEATER

Challenged to find a creative use for large oak and pine trees that were removed at White Street Park last year in order to make room for the Harvest Farm community garden, three members of Suwanee’s public works department have created an au naturale educational amphitheater. The White Street Park amphitheater, located between the garden and trail and overlooking the creek, features four terraces with log-hewn seating for about 60 adults or 80 children.

Public Works Supervisor Scott Moretz and Equipment Operators Jeremy Fryar and Daniel Sutton, using chain saws as their primary tool, spent several weeks late last year creating the amphitheater. “We just let our imaginations go,” says Moretz. “We really got into it and tried to use natural materials for everything that we could. The project offered a great opportunity for the guys to think outside the box and use their carpentry skills.”

The seats, podium, railings, and steps are all crafted from the felled trees, an estimated two tons of lumber, and the backfill for the terrace was created using dirt and other materials on site. The only materials that were purchased were nails and treated wood used as support for the terrace levels.

Moretz envisions the amphitheater being used for natural purposes as well, ideally as an outdoor classroom where presentations on topics such as gardening/farming, erosion, and wetlands, can be offered. The educational amphitheater, like the pavilions at many of Suwanee’s parks, may be reserved/rented. For more information, contact Nicole Schnepper at nschnepper@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.


January 14, 2011

SUWANEE SEEKS ARTISTS WHO WANT TO PUT ‘ART ON A LIMB’

The City of Suwanee is looking for artists and other creative individuals who’d like to have their artwork displayed on tree limbs and in other natural settings. The City is hosting a competition for artwork to be considered for its 2011 Art on a Limb program.

Art on a Limb is a month-long initiative designed to celebrate and bring attention to the arts as well as the natural beauty of Suwanee’s parks. Through the program, two pieces of original artwork, especially created for the City of Suwanee, are placed along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and at other parks each day throughout the month of May. Those who find the art pieces get to keep them.

The award-winning Art on a Limb program is now in its seventh year. Past Art on a Limb pieces have included clay orbs, original paintings on small pieces of Suwanee’s old water tower, nature-themed ceramic tiles, vintage magnets, giclees of old and new Suwanee icons, and gourds painted to resemble birds.

Original artwork, including small paintings and drawings on a variety of materials as well as sculptures, glasswork, ceramics, or any other suitable medium that can be placed outside (on a tree limb or on the ground) and carried by hand will be accepted. Additional guidelines and an application are available at www.suwanee.com. The deadline for submissions is February 21.


January 12, 2011

CITIZEN FEEDBACK SOUGHT
ON ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION PLAN PRIORITIES

The update to the City of Suwanee’s Alternative Transportation Plan is nearly complete. Working with transportation planners from Pond and Company and incorporating citizen feedback obtained through two public meetings, Suwanee has completed a draft of recommendations for projects and prioritization. Before finalizing the updated plan, the City is seeking citizen input and comments on the proposed projects.

Residents are invited to review the draft Alternative Transportation Plan project list, available at www.suwanee.com, and provide feedback by January 21 to Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell at jcampbell@suwanee.com or 770-945-8996.

Projects on the list include sidewalks to fill gaps in the City’s network, intersection modification along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, additional trails, and share-the-road signs and markings. The projects are prioritized with some expected to be implemented in the coming year and others scheduled out as far as 2030.

“Ultimately,” says Campbell, “the goal of our updated Alternative Transportation Plan is to create better connections and move our community closer to truly being walkable and accessible to bicyclists.”


January 6, 2011

SUWANEE TO EXPLORE OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES
RELATED TO HISTORIC PRESERVATION

The City of Suwanee invites residents to a public meeting Saturday, January 15, in order to explore, discuss, and offer feedback on the benefits and challenges of establishing a local historic preservation program in Old Town. The meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. at City Hall, will last approximately three hours and will include presentations by experts in the field as well as a question-and-answer session.

“A historic preservation program,” says Planning Division Director Matthew Dickison, “can provide an avenue for citizens to protect their neighborhoods. There are a whole range of levels of protection, and it can be done so that it’s not intrusive.

“But in order to be successful,” he adds, “historic preservation programs require grassroots, local support and that’s what we’re trying to gauge.”

The meeting will include three educational sessions that will address the basics of historic preservation, local programs, and challenges and constraints. Presenters include Monica Callahan, planning director with the City of Madison, Pratt Cassity, associate professor of public service and outreach at the University of Georgia, and Robert Forro with 4.0 Construction.

Open to the public, this informational meeting will be held in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. For more information, contact Matt Dickison at mdickison@suwanee.com or 770-904-3371.


January 5, 2011

MAYOR TO PRESENT ‘STATE OF SUWANEE’ ADDRESS

Mayor Dave Williams will present the annual “State of the City” address at     6:15 p.m. Wednesday, January 12, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. The presentation is part of the January Suwanee Business Alliance meeting, which will continue at BB&T, following the mayor’s presentation, with refreshments and networking. BB&T is located at 350 Town Center Avenue.

In addition to highlights and achievements from 2010, Williams will share information about the upcoming 20/20 Vision community strategic planning initiative and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the vote that made Suwanee’s award-winning open space and parks initiative possible.