Bowl Improvements. Construction continues in the lawn and splash pad area of The Bowl. The VIP suites are in use now, although with temporary power, but have been a big hit for the two exciting shows held in the venue so far. The splash pad and equipment building are the next significant milestones on the work program, aiming for a July completion. With heavy demand on the materials, there is a possibility that the water feature will not be ready for Independence Day and will have to open later in the month.
Retreat at Orr’s Ferry. The repairs to the HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems are substantially complete and the house simply lacks some cosmetic improvements to round out these interim level upgrades before we start showing the site to potential partners on the project. Some landscaping work, painting and flooring are next on the work program for the facility and should reach completion by this fall.
EpiCenter. The Groundbreaking Ceremony is right around the corner (June 22nd at 11:00 a.m.) and design meetings are furiously underway to get the site development work permitted and scheduled. The program management team is actively pushing the timeline with the project team to keep the target opening date of December 2017 in our sights.
Highway 20 Widening. The GDOT contractor continues to make progress during the hot dry weather in May, having completed several segments of the westbound lanes with asphalt binder. There are a few additional segments west of Arbor View that have required more substantial earthwork and drainage improvements that are still being completed. The intersection of Highway 20 and Suwanee Dam Road are also going to require more time and attention from the contractor as they work to complete the project later this fall.
Buford Highway. Georgia DOT recently completed the resurfacing of Buford Highway from Suwanee up to Highway 20 in Sugar Hill. Along with the county’s project to install a stop and go traffic signal at the intersection of Buford Highway with Westbrook, the route is receiving more attention and construction over the last couple of months. The city was able to negotiate with the county for the intersection improvements at Westbrook which will result in a westbound left-turn lane and traffic signal at minimal city expense.
Planning and Development:
Five single family home permits were issued for the month of May with an average of 3,361 square feet. This is a net decrease from the nine permits issued in May of 2015. However, so far this year there has been a 205% increase for new residential permits including townhomes and single family detached dwellings compared to this same time period last year (70 in 2015, 104 in 2016).
In the month of May, 228 building code inspections were completed; a slight increase from the 217 we performed in May 2015. There has also been a 16% increase in inspections completed year to date (1034 in 2015, 1204 in 2016). We are seeing the effects of residential growth and many of our current property owners are making improvements. A total of 25 applications were received for fences, decks and sunrooms this month.
Our staff completed a total of 445 zoning and property maintenance code inspections in May, a slight decrease from 451 performed a year ago. Overall, there has been a decrease in these types of inspections for the year, with 1,542 carried out last year and only 1,218 this year. This is primarily due to the sharp increase in development activity.
The Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission unanimously approved our memorandum of agreement which allows us the authority to review and approve our own erosion control plans associated with local development permitting. This accomplishment represents a significant investment of time and energy which will result in considerable savings in cost and time through the review process. Our development partners will appreciate the benefits of reducing the points of contact and eliminating ambiguity in a significant portion of the review process. Our staff will see huge value from being able to consolidate and streamline our work flow.
Parks and Recreation:
Recreation. Recreation programs at E.E. Robinson Park are being handed off to county management at the end of June and several of the historically local leagues, like softball, will come under the administration of the county. Our staff has been working to prepare for the transition by cleaning and maintaining the batting cages, buildings, and playground areas. All-in Futbol Club and i-9 are busy at Gary Pirkle Park with league play and practices. Wi-Fi and cameras are now in place as an enhancement to the services at the park.
Golf. Weather contributed to a strong month with the number of rounds for the month just below the monthly average and keeping us ahead of the year-to-date total from last year. The annual aeration of the greens and sanding was completed at the end of May and mulch placed along the course to provide ground cover. All Mondays in June are booked with tournaments.
Marketing, Events and Economic Development:
Downtown Development Projects: Four major private sector developments downtown are in various stages of construction or development review with the DDA and the city. Together these four projects – RaceTrac (Highway 20/PIB), Stephen Macauley (Buice), JWM Ventures (Temple) and Solomon (Bailey Avenue) will represent nearly $200 million of private investment in our downtown as well as bring a significant number of jobs to our community.
Sweet Life Concert Series. The Mavericks concert had a great turn-out with over 1000 people in attendance and Blues Traveler brought in nearly 1400 to The Bowl. Kool & the Gang is set to perform on July 16th and The Purple Xperience is on August 13th. Tickets for Third Eye Blind on September 3rd are also on sale. Advance tickets for both Kool and the Gang and Third Eye Blind are outpacing the first two concerts. To purchase tickets or a table, visit www.thebowlatsugarhill.com.
Sounds of Summer Concert Series. This free concert series kicks off this Saturday and features Joe Hall as well as the Haley & Alexis Band. Later this summer we will have Ants Trippin’ with the Fly Betty Band (August 27); and Red Head Diamond with Moby Dick (September 17).
Sparks in the Park. Our recreation staff is gearing up for our annual Sparks in the Park fireworks event and concert to celebrate Independence Day. The festivities will be held at E.E. Robinson Park. We are expecting a great turn out for the evening that will feature great music from A1A (the official Jimmy Buffet tribute band), excellent food and an amazing fireworks display. We encourage all guests to arrive early and carpool if possible; be prepared for the hot weather; enjoy themselves responsibly; and drive home safely.
Boot Camps. Our own Scott Andrews is hosting a boot camp on Tuesdays and Thursdays in front of City Hall at 5:30 p.m. The boot camp is free to the public. Average attendance is 25 for this fitness opportunity.
Thursdays @ The Hill. Thursdays @ The Hill has picked up where it left off last year after shaking off a wet April and early May. Our staff has lined up some family fun, activities, entertainment and food trucks for this twice a month downtown festival, hosted on the first and third Thursday of each month on the Town Green.
Social Media. The city’s Facebook page is one of the best places to find out information about the Sugar Hill and all of the exciting events and projects. With 6,500 followers, the page continues to grow at a faster rate than similar municipal pages. With the use of Facebook Live, we have been able to live-stream several of our events to allow our followers the opportunity to experience our concerts and world-class venue. Sugar Hill’s Instagram account also continues to gain more followers as the city attempts to reach out to a younger audience. Staff and interns are also looking at ways to use SnapChat to promote the city.
Other Marketing. The city’s event calendar will be found in Suwanee Magazine as well as Southern Distinction Magazine. Advertisements can also be found in the AJC (digital and print) as well as Gwinnett Daily Post (digital and print). Staff is also working with Wild Timber to include the event calendar in the neighborhood’s newsletter and with Chuck FM to play radio advertisements promoting our upcoming shows. In addition to these efforts, we have developed an advertisement that will play before each movie at Suwanee Movie Tavern. This effort is furthered using technology to track movie-goers and show advertisements on their phones once they leave the theater. The department’s interns have been working hard to make sure that our events are on every digital platform possible.
Public Works and Utilities:
Gas Department. Department staff is making the most of its new Hiperweb work order system, providing a tool to track and report our workload for compliance purposes more efficiently and effectively. Nineteen new services were installed in May along with two replacement meters set in our system. We also investigated sixteen (16) leaks or leak-related requests for service in the month.
Street & Stormwater Department. The annual Spring Cleanup was held during the first week of May this year and received a tremendous response. Also during the last week of the month, the first round of mosquito spraying concluded with a second round of spraying scheduled for July. We also were able to move some of the downtown development projects along by supporting the demolition of two houses recently acquired by the DDA on First Avenue.