Following is a series of respectful and informative messages exchanged between two members of the Yahoo Group Tucker Discussions. All messages have been copied verbatim, save for the members names. The two members are CL, who initiated the conversation in response to other posts at Tucker Discussions, and BD, who responded point by point.
April 16, 1:06am
Jim and Others-
For those who haven't been here for longer than 20-30 years, there are a few historical components I would like to point out regarding the area west of 285 at Northlake and heading out to Stone Mountain Village:
1. "Tucker" was considered anything east of Fellowship Rd and from folks who have been here a really, really long time, Tucker used to be P-ridge or Pea Ridge
2. Up until 1984, TCA used to be called East Tucker Civic Association because there was a delineation at Fellowship Rd.
3. The Henderson family built up the area we know as Northlake and those of us who live west of Fellowship and grew up here have known it as the Northlake area and we identified more with Henderson HS when it was around than Tucker
4. If you look at the map of the proposed City of Tucker back in the 2006 plan, you will see that the group "cherry picked" back then and did not include one of the most traditional parts of Tucker - Idlewood. These same people are now going to say what Tucker is when back then they didn't even want the tried and true parts of Tucker in the map?
5. Smokerise is Stone Mountain - Stone Mountain zip, Mailing Address, location - even the country club is in Stone Mountain
6. The leadership at TCA lives in Smoke Rise, including the Gwinnett County portions of Smoke Rise - why should they lead the charge what occurs with our homes and our votes?
7. These "community" groups are not speaking with LCA, which is the only group that has organized itself well to examine facts and viability tied to cityhood when you look at all the placeholder bills that have been dropped. Add LCA to docket and then you have viable community discussions because as a voter and a resident, I will have an opportunity to vote for a viable city that will help develop our depressed residential area because the county has proven completely incapable of doing so.
I am a business person and have made multiple attempts to talk to our Tucker civic leadership about what would be best for our homes and areas and have been personally rebuffed. My phone calls are not returned and instead these groups come out and laud how wonderful the county is and what a great relationship we have with DeKalb and the BOC.
I have lived in Tucker and DeKalb when it was the BEST place to live and now it is one of the worst. Lack of leadership, corruption, pot holes, increased taxes and depressed property values - the county is really working well for us.
So, here are my thoughts as LCA conducts its feasibility study:
1. Their proposed city boundaries make good business sense and will benefit the taxpayers' property
2. There is recognized leadership - Kevin Levitas was our representative and a good one at that.
3. As a business person, I will tell you that I hope that there are folks thinking about how to bring investments in both for the gain of the community and personally - that is called commerce. People do not invest in areas out of the goodness of their hearts and volunteerism only goes so far. We need a true economic development plan to spur investment and in turn help our businesses grow. A CID, where the businesses will tax themselves is not effective on its own - you have to have the business acumen involved to spur the growth where the additional 3% is peanuts compared to the return on the investment. I have yet to see, hear of find anything that shows that Tucker has a plan. Instead, how many farmers' markets and "Alliances" do we have for the small strip of Main Street? There is a lack of unity even with the alliances.
I ask you all, as homeowners, to be logical about your real estate investment and the community around you. I love our area and want it to grow and flourish for my family and the friends around me who are like family. The divisiveness and the historical platitudes are not getting any of us anywhere.
I was hoping to see at the bottom of Jim's email that we as a community would finally have LCA at the table and unfortunately, that is not the case.
We are a metro Atlanta suburb first and foremost and we need to look at a long-term plan for our development that will benefit our micro-community, the macro community of Atlanta and help spur the growth of the state overall.
Emotion and commitment to history has its place and it is usually to learn from mistakes and move forward. We need to leverage our history and strengths to attract new families and develop areas that improve the quality of life for all, not just the elderly with the lifelong centers. The continued look back is hurting our community and we need people who can look forward.
April 16, 3:17pm
From BD to CL
In response to your points:
1. Tucker High School has its origins from the early 1900's. The Tucker name has been around for some time.
2. If it was called the EAST Tucker Civic Association, that suggests that there was also a WEST Tucker community.
4. The map you may be referring to in 2006 was not the map the TCA committee was using to delineate the city limits. Please take a look at the maps I have posted in the Files section, under the folder City of Tucker. We included Idlewood down to Ponce, all of Smoke Rise, Northlake and the Embry Hills/Pleasantdale area. The map in the Georgia Tech student term paper was of their own choice, without input from the committee. And there was no 'cherry picking.' We included all areas that we felt were fully a part of Tucker, and which would positively contribute to a new city. All the areas noted as options, are fully contiguous to Tucker.
Also note that the TCA, whatever they've been saying or what they may say in the next meeting, will NOT be leading any incorporation effort. Their hands are tied by their non-profit status. All they can do is what they are doing now, initiating the conversation to determine interest and to provide information. Incorporation will require an all new organization, many of its future members, I presume, will also be members of the TCA, TBA and MSTA.
5. Smoke Rise, as a neighborhood, has very little to do with the City of Stone Mountain in DeKalb County. We are separated by US 78, and have only the one tenuous road connection. We do, however, enjoy the Stone Mountain historic business area on occasion, but no more than any one else on this side of town. Many Smoke Rise residents do partake of the Stone Mountain community in Gwinnett, which is unincorporated and definitely not part of the City of Stone Mountain itself. That part of Gwinnett is torn between Lilburn and Snellville, and Smoke Rise has no civic ties to those communities. Smoke Rise residents have long supported the Tucker schools, the Tucker community organizations and the businesses on Main Street and the surrounding area.
Yes, Smoke Rise has a Stone Mountain mailing address, but that was totally the decision of the USPS, assigning our area to the 30087 Post Office. They could of just as easily, many years ago, assigned Smoke Rise to the Tucker Post Office. Purely a bureaucratic decision, not made by any resident or by preference of the community. I am, quite frankly, annoyed that I have to use the Gwinnett St. Mt. post office on certain occasions, as I normally use Tucker's. A zip code does not a community make. If you want to use that argument, then you would have to acknowledge that west Tucker and Northlake are clearly a part of Tucker, being in the 30084 zip code. You cannot have it both ways to suit your different arguments. Also note that the SRCA, working with the USPS, did get their approval for a Smoke Rise, Georgia mailing address. Part of the motivation, I'm sure, was the desire to disassociate from Stone Mountain.
6. The current leadership of the TCA, save for the president, are residents of Smoke Rise. Which should confirm for you that Smoke Rise has long participated in the Tucker civic groups, and are part and parcel a part of Tucker.
7. I don't think you can state with any conviction whatsoever that the Tucker organizations are not speaking with the LCA. Neither you nor I know this one way or another. I do know, as you do, that many of the Tucker so-called leaders have spoken out against the LCA effort, but for a variety of reasons, and with some blatant falsehoods. This announced meeting on April 30 came out of the blue as no one had suggested that the TCA, TBA, MSTA, THS and TPC were talking AT ALL about the question of incorporation. I, as well as many others, were getting impatient with the lack of movement in Tucker. Hopefully this meeting will lead to a positive, energized group that will pursue Tucker incorporation vigorously.
The LCA may appear well organized but I can assure you that what they have done so far is not that hard. A few individuals, with some clear connections, got together to start this movement, and managed to get the support of Sen. Millar. Not that hard to have the senator copy an existing city incorporation bill as a placeholder. The senator is also having their maps drawn by a Georgia State legislative support group.
1. The proposed Tucker boundaries also make sense, even as we drew them back in 2006. I would offer that they make better sense than the current Lakeside map. Tucker has sufficient commercial areas to adequately support incorporation, much more than Lakeside.
2. Yes, the Tucker folks interested in incorporation are suffering from a lack of leadership. The Tucker business community is dropping the ball. I hope that changes soon. I will note that Kevin Levitas was fully supportive of the Tucker incorporation movement back in 2006. The Tucker business community has seemingly decided, as a group, that incorporation is not in their best BUSINESS interests. By doing so they are clearly detaching themselves as effective leaders of Tucker, as their very short minded interests are not coincident with the overall Tucker community.
3. The Tucker business community has done much more than the farmers market. Main Street has been revitalized due to the efforts of the TBA and MSTA. The business community initiated the LCI created for Tucker several years ago. And they are currently working with the county on the CDI for Tucker and Lawrenceville Highway. Tucker also has the new high and middles schools, the new library and the new shopping complex across from WalMart/Kroger. If you are unaware of all the exciting things happening in Tucker, then you've simply not been paying attention. All these developments improving Tucker are most likely the main reason no one has felt compelled to pursue incorporation until now. Well, things have changed.
I have great confidence that things will change very quickly regarding Tucker incorporation. Whatever you feel about the LCA, we in Tucker and Smoke Rise are capable of meeting and exceeding their efforts. Hopefully you will be prepared to support us in that cause. We will need everyone's support.
There is a new blog created that is focused on the new City of Tucker and I would encourage you to check it out and contribute:
April 17, 2:26am
From CL to BD
I am not disputing that the Tucker name has been around a long time, but you and I both know that traditional "Tucker" has been east of Fellowship and that THS has been a boundary since the turn of the century. The lore of the locals contends that the name Tucker was assigned to a barkeep on Fellowship way back then. Just as you contend that Smoke Rise is more "Tucker" but with a Stone Mountain address, I would contend that "West Tucker" is only Tucker because of the assigned USPS zip. The "West Tucker" community has historically identified itself as Northlake/Tucker - not "West Tucker."
Both you and I are using factual historical information to make our points and one thing is clear - nothing is exact about the Tucker boundaries and we do not have representation to help us determine what those boundaries are. Seeing these facts, it is important to make the best decisions to help grow our communities and the investment we have made in our real estate. Millar is our elected official and he dropped the placeholder for LCA - where is the pro "Tucker" representative protecting the needs of Tucker - Michele Hensen??
You need to understand that there are many people who want to be part of a city because of the unwavering desire to stay where we are and to watch our area grow and benefit the homeowners in our area. We do not have a country club here in Tucker and do not have the beautiful homes that line Smoke Rise. "Tucker" has tried cityhood before and failed for many reasons. The debacle at TMS was just another showing of the lack of effective and reasonable leadership. The development we have seen in the Tucker area are for public services - we need investment that will attract families who will look to renovate houses in our area (Cofer Bros. would benefit greatly from this type of business) attract businesses and stores of a different "scale" than what we see in the WalMart shopping center. The new school buildings are nice, but if we are not attracting the actual students and families who will have the achievement match the look of the building, we have very little. The FACT that Livsey, a Blue Ribbon school has been begging for a new roof and faces perpetual closure regardless of the efforts of a wonderfully rabid PTA shows how little pull we have in the county.
To ensure that ALL residents have the proper information, LCA needs to be invited back to Tucker to talk about the facts regarding their cityhood effort and taxpayers need to be afforded the opportunity to decide what to do with their property and their tax dollars.
Please share the facts of how Tucker can pull off cityhood with a reasonable vote on the ballot next summer and what the proposal would look like. I agree with you regarding the business base in the 30084 zip; however, we have had this same base for decades and have not had the infrastructure nor leadership to maximize the potential. As you pointed out, Levitas realized that fact back in 2006 and knows how much potential we have. Other areas have done three times more with much less and we just get to watch from the sidelines. The "Tucker" approach is not working and needs to change to finally allow our area to realize its amazing potential.
Kind regards, BD, and thank you for your response.
April 17, 10:16am
From BD to CL
Ms. CL (Part 1)
You seem fond of using historical precedent to argue that `west' Tucker is a community with no strong ties to traditional `Tucker' and that you and your neighbors have `historically identified itself as Northlake/Tucker'. I'm sorry but I just don't see that. The `west' Tucker community is, and always will be, a strong and vital component of the greater Tucker community and, hopefully, a critical part of the future City of Tucker.
Let's take a look at Tucker's long term history. Like all communities in the rural South, Tucker, by whatever name it had back then, started as nothing more than a crossroads of two or more roads passing though rural DeKalb County, connecting local farmers with their markets and churches. At some point before 1864, Browning's Court House was established at what would be the intersection of Chamblee-Tucker and Lavista Roads. The Court House was used by the traveling Probate Judge, the center of political power in 19th century Georgia counties, where local legal affairs were conducted including property sales, births, deaths, wills, voting, etc. The Court House was the center of all local civil and political affairs. With both a main crossroads and an important institution generating a lot of traffic, commerce just naturally followed. In 1892 the railroad came to town, with a station a short distance south of the Court House (near Cofer Brothers). A range of commercial enterprises sprang up between the Court House and the train station. Main Street was formally laid out in 1907. Here you would find churches, schools, the general store, the drug store, farmers markets, lawyers, doctors and all the other basic services a rural community needed.
So, in 1907, Tucker had a Court House, a train station and a thriving commercial district serving the farming community for miles around. In other words, it had every component necessary to make a City. So the real question should be, `Why DIDN'T Tucker become a city then?' I frankly don't know but I suspect it was due to the unchallenged prominence of the Cofer family, who most likely dominated all public affairs in this part of DeKalb County, and would have had a powerful relationship with the County political power structure. They had effective control of everything around here, so a City of local residents would be nothing more than a thorn in their side. If the Cofer's didn't want it, it didn't happen. But even then, by all rights, Tucker should have formed as a city a hundred years ago.
Public schools became an important part of the community in the early 1900's. Tucker HS was formally established in 1918. Other high schools at that time included Chamblee, Stone Mountain and Druid Hills High Schools. Miles away. Those were your only choices. Lakeside, Shamrock, Henderson and Sequoyah High Schools weren't built until the mid-1960's. Although I have no idea how attendance zones were established back then, I have to believe residents in `west' Tucker, if they chose to go to high school, were most certainly attending Tucker. Tucker Elementary looks to have been built in the late 40's or early 50's. Oh, and it was WEST of Fellowship Road. I suppose you Northlakers (to be) were horribly dismayed that your new school took the Tucker name.
Regarding Northlake, the Mall opened in 1971, two years after I-285 was built. North Lake (the actual lake) is manmade, most likely built to serve as a retention structure for the Mall. Before then, and I'm talking 1969, there was no Northlake shopping district and there was no Northlake community. Northlake didn't exist. There was nothing there but cropland and cow pastures. One can't simply justify Northlake as your community center when Tucker was here and thriving 100 years earlier.
You regularly cite Fellowship Road as some sort of natural dividing line separating `west' Tucker from the traditional Tucker. Again, that just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Many cities nationwide have defined both East-West and North-South lines through their community, normally intersecting at the CENTER of town, to be used as wayfinders or as a management tool. If you were to ask me where the center of Tucker was, to be used to define NW, NE, SW and SE Tucker quadrants, I could easily use the intersection of Chamblee-Tucker/Fellowship Roads and Lavista Road, the original location of the Court House. Fellowship Road is just one block west of Main Street. It forms the western edge of the central Tucker business district. To me, Fellowship Road is dead set in the MIDDLE of Tucker. Many, if not most, `west' Tucker residents go to Tucker churches, use the Tucker Post Office (which was serving `west' Tucker long before zip codes), vote in central Tucker and use the Tucker Library. To claim that residents west of Fellowship have no connection to Tucker as a whole is simply way off the mark.
So, before Northlake, before the Interstate, and long before Lakeside, this entire area was centered on Main Street in Tucker, the Court House, the post office, Cofer Brothers, the schools and the train station. Locals from miles around came to Tucker to conduct their everyday affairs. Where else could they go? Decatur, Stone Mountain, Chamblee or Clarkston? They were the only other commercial centers in central and north DeKalb, and all were miles away. What was there between Tucker and Decatur? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And Lakeside was nothing more than a twinkle in some developer's eye.
Cities are no longer defined by where you shop, where you go to school or where you go to church. That era passed long ago. (And they are certainly not defined by zip codes.) Today, cities can be defined by like minded communities joining together to fight for common goals. I would suggest that `west' Tucker has the strongest communal bonds with their neighbors south of Lavista and east of Chamblee-Tucker. That bond is far more than what you would have with Briarcliff, Oak Grove or Sagamore Hills. In the City of Lakeside, `west' Tucker will be nothing more than a stepchild.
Please put your energy and support towards forming a new City of Tucker. You may be surprised at we can accomplish, together.
April 17, 10:23am
From BD to CL
Ms. CL (Part 2)
I'm glad to read and I whole heartedly support the reasons why you want to be part of a city. I would offer that a City of Tucker can offer you everything, and perhaps more, than a City of Lakeside. But then I disagree with some of your more pointed assertions.
Sen. Millar represents the northern third of the Tucker community, as I have chosen to define it. And yes, he filed the placeholder bill for Lakeside and has been the driving force behind the Lakeside maps. (Their maps are being drawn by the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office of the Georgia General Assembly, who only do work at the request of state legislators.) His placeholder bill was merely a copy of one of the several bills already used by the new Fulton and DeKalb cities. And their map isn't all that complicated either. Not a whole lot of work behind either of those. And I would further note that Sen. Millar was not the driving force behind Dunwoody or Brookhaven, although I am sure that he did play an important role with their creation. Sen. Dan Weber was the legislative leader behind Dunwoody, and Rep. Mike Jacobs was responsible for Brookhaven. Tucker's other senator, Sen. Steve Henson, has not taken a position on the new cities, as far as I know. The City of Tucker could probably (possibly?) use Sen. Millar as its sponsor in the General Assembly except for his position that Lakeside is the one and only city bill that has any possibility of moving forward. I don't know the logistics in the General Assembly regarding how or if the Mitchell/Henson/Williams placeholder bill could be transferred to another sponsor.
You are correct in noting that Tucker does not have a strong legislator supporting the City of Tucker. Rep. Billy Mitchell, Rep. Michele Henson and Rep. `Coach' Williams are all sponsors of the `blank' placeholder bill for Tucker, but I have no confidence that their hearts and minds are there as well. We have to remember that all of the Tucker legislators, save for Millar, represent majority, or close to majority, African American districts. Politically speaking (as we all know that all legislators are primarily working towards their next reelection), they may consider it too dangerous to come out strongly in favor of the proposed north DeKalb cities. However, the wind may have shifted, given that south DeKalb legislators are also behind the possible formation of the Cities of DeKalb, Stonecrest and Prosperity, all based in the African American communities. (At least I think they are, as there is little or nothing on the web describing those efforts.) I am anxiously waiting to see if Rep. Mitchell, Henson and Williams actually come forward to support Tucker. I hope and expect all of our legislators to be at the April 30 Tucker meeting on cityhood.
Tucker has NOT tried city hood, not in the sense that it was once a city (like North Atlanta) that was shut down by the General Assembly. In 2006-7 the TCA set up a committee that investigated forming a city (in the wake of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody). We stuck our toe in and we found it to our liking, but no one was prepared to jump in all the way. The subsequent effort, as mentioned in the March 25 meeting, was apparently so secret that no one knew about it, as it was news to me. I don't consider that a failure as they clearly didn't try very hard. The basic problem, as I see it, is that the Tucker leadership is wholly based in the business community, and that the business community has decided that THEY have no interest in incorporation. Perhaps they see incorporation as a threat to their positions in Tucker. After all, they have represented Tucker well in recent years, with both the county and state, as represented by the 2005 Living Cities Initiative, the revitalization of Main Street and the Tucker/Lawrenceville Highway Community Improvement District. And the new schools and library didn't just happen in a vacuum, as I'm sure they were pushing the county to invest in Tucker. But this is all that they can do, whereas a City can do so much more for us.
I blame the `debacle' at TMS completely on Commissioner Elaine Boyer and the TCA. For whatever reason they advertised a meeting focused on the LCA's proposals, and then turned it into a Tucker cheerleading fan fest. No one was there for that, and our frustration was understandable. Boyer, who works for the County(!) cannot, as yet, be counted on for her support for cityhood. The cities are a threat to her power base. After all, if Lakeside and Tucker both form, her entire district will be composed of cities. The county commissioners' only real power comes in local zoning issues, as each commissioner has carte blanche authority in that regard. With the cities taking local police, parks and planning and zoning responsibilities away from the county, there won't be much left for her. Perhaps she should consider running for Mayor? And, of course, the TCA leadership is business based, where its President actually lives in Lilburn. The rest of the board lives in Smoke Rise, along with Boyer. From my experience in 2006-7, the Smoke Rise so-called leaders were generally against joining with Tucker, if only because they felt they were left out of the loop and were, if you will, personally offended at being ignored. Again, I hope both the TCA and the SRCA change their tune at the meeting.
The FACT that Livsey has issues with DCSD (not the county) is due to its age, size and location. Combined with the self destruction of the DCSD leadership, I'm not surprised that Livsey parents are very frustrated. However, there are other facts in play. The building is too small and no longer meets county and state standards. Its site is too small to allow a cost effective expansion and renovation. And the budget crisis in the DCSD has cut funding for all sorts of things, including spending money on repairing a school targeted for closure. One cannot demand that the school board live within its means while at the same time demand that it spend non-existent funds on `My School.' Doesn't work that way.
What are the facts on how Tucker can pull off cityhood? Well, it's already started. Maps and information are being generated and distributed (much more that what we've seen from Lakeside). The April 30 meeting is also critical, as it will hopefully lead to creating the organization that can legally and financially pursue incorporation for Tucker. (Note that the LCA was formed with little community input before they had a bill written and a map drawn. Whatever the LCA claims, they did not discuss options with `west' Tucker before their map was issued.) With an organization, we can start collecting tax deductible funds for the CVI study as well as start working with our legislative sponsor (whomever that may be). Once the ball starts rolling, the new organization will need some 50 to 100 volunteers who will collectively decide on the structure and responsibilities of the new City. Then comes the voting.
What we are missing is a leader. Someone who has the will, the time, the tough skin, the community respect and the connections to make things happen. As of now, I'm not expecting that person to emerge from the TCA or TBA. Hopefully, someone quite capable but just insane enough will step forward to take on the job. I can only hope that we can all work through this with intelligence, respect and common decency, and that we don't run over this leader in the process.
Good luck, Tucker!
April 17, 10:26am
From CL to BD
In order for me to put my efforts and reason behind any endeavor, I need to understand the intent and the leadership.
WHO is leading the City of Tucker initiative? Most of the civic leaders have vociferously decried the very thought of a City of Tucker, so I find it hard to believe that the same leadership is now changing its tune to protect us from being stuck on the island of unincorporated DeKalb.
April 17, 10:40am
From CL to BD
You and I agree more than we disagree and I greatly appreciate and respect the time you have taken to delineate the information not only for me but for this group as a whole. This is the type of discourse our community deserves because we all want our area to flourish and prosper for our families and for our real estate investments.
I, unfortunately, will be out of the country on business during the 4/30 meeting, but I hope that true city discussions will occur. The current docket of groups listed have fairly openly voiced their opposition to cityhood and I am of the mind that remaining in unincorporated DeKalb is the worst option of all.
I will leave you with a quote from a true leader, Henry Ford -
"If you asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."
Our leadership at all levels needs to think outside the box to help us grow our area by looking at all options.
Hope to meet you one day. :)
April 17, 1:17pm
From BD to CL
Here's an argument for you that I would find a bit more credible than Fellowship Road as the natural dividing line in Tucker. It even has a powerful historical precedent on its side.
In early colonial America, the English and French royals divided eastern North America between themselves by using the highest ridge line along the eastern mountains (the Appalachians.) All lands east of that line was to be English, and all lands west would be French. (The Spanish were in there somewhere, but who cares.) OK then, done deal.
Well, that highest ridge line would eventually become regarded as the Eastern Continental Divide. And, remarkably enough, the ECD runs right through downtown Tucker. It follows Chamblee-Tucker Road past Tucker High School, and then takes off southeasternly through the Sams property before heading south and west towards Decatur.
That means two things. One, if you spit on the ground in the middle of the intersection at Chamblee-Tucker and Lavista, some of your spit will end up in the Atlantic Ocean, and some will end up in the Gulf of Mexico. To the east is the Flint River basin, and to the west is the Chattahoochee River basin. And two, that line could have determined if you were to be speaking English or French.
As far as the 17th century royals were concerned, east Tucker and Smoke Rise were located in English America, and west Tucker and Northlake were located in French America. If things had worked out differently, downtown Tucker would have been an international border between us English speakers here in Georgia, and you French (or Spanish) speakers in Louisiana.
So, there you go. Starting fighting for the rights of your French forebears against the vicious English overlords! Liberer Tucker Louisiane!
Of course, I'm just pulling your leg. (This is mostly true, by the way.) This was all Creek and Cherokee lands before they were forcibly removed by the Americans. No European settlers were here before the early 1800's. And no one then had any idea where the high ridge line (the ECD) was anyway.
But, as I stated at first, I would find this argument as a natural dividing line between east and west Tucker far more credible than Fellowship Road. LOL