Trek or Treat
Little princesses, monsters, sports heroes, and celebrities can get a slight head start on Halloween festivities when they attend the City of Suwanee's spook-tacular Trek or Treat event. Held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, October 31, at Suwanee Creek Park, Trek or Treat is designed especially for children ages 10 and younger.
Planned and staffed this year by members of the 2015 Suwanee Youth Leaders class, Trek or Treat includes fall festival-style games, music, contests, inflatables, and a free hot dog lunch while supplies last. Costumes are strongly encouraged.
Bond refinancing to save about $180K
With authorization from the Suwanee Urban Redevelopment Agency, the City of Suwanee plans to close in November on an agreement with JP Morgan Chase to refinance 2006 revenue bonds that were used to help fund construction of Suwanee City Hall. The City still owes about $4 million on the original $6.5 million bonds and, through refinancing at an interest rate of 1.94%, will save approximately $180,000, or about 4.65 percent, across the 11-year payment period that remains.
JP Morgan Chase offered the City a 1.94% fixed interest rate. The original interest rate on the bonds was 3.5%.
"The City's debt policy requires that, unless terms are changed, a savings of at least 3% must be realized in order to refinance debt," says Financial Services Director Amie Sakmar. "Suwanee's strong financial position – we have a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor's – make us a good investment, and market conditions and low interest rates make this a good time to refinance. Premier financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase want to partner with us because we're a secure bet."
The City of Suwanee also has about $13 million in general obligation bonds (remaining from $17.7 million in bonds that were originally issued in 2002), which were used to acquire open space and build parks. The City refinanced those bonds in 2006 and cannot, according to IRS rules, refinance again within a 10-year period.
13.1 miles of running fun
You can do this! On Saturday, January 30, the second annual Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon will take off from Town Center Park, meander through Old Town and up Peachtree Industrial, wind along the Suwanee Creek Greenway, and take you up and back Northolt Road. You'll finish spectacularly – or maybe, just finally – at Town Center.
Presented by Georgia Fitness, this Peachtree Road Race qualifier will begin at 7:30 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers.
Additional race information is available at runsuwanee.com, and registration is open at active.com. The race fee is $65. You may want to register early as the race will be capped at 600 runners, and the fee increases to $85 on December 14. Race-day registration will not be available.
"We had a very successful inaugural event last year," says Georgia Fitness's Jason Vance. "We're looking forward to another great run. It's exciting to us to pull the local running community together in this way that is both fun and challenging."
The race course is, in parts, historic, scenic, and challenging. The elevation gain throughout the race is 613.5 feet.
Snap Suwanee deadline is Dec. 31Click on the image to enlarge a photo.
Snap – and share – your photos of the Suwanee community through the City's annual Snap Suwanee photo competition. Click here for guidelines and applications. Each photographer may submit up to five photos; the deadline for submissions is December 31.
Photos submitted to the competition should represent the Suwanee community in some way and ideally be taken within the City of Suwanee limits. Winning photographs will be exhibited, beginning in March 2016, for an approximately one-year period at City Hall.
The dozen winning photos from the 2015 competition are currently on display on the first-floor lobby of City Hall and may be viewed from 8 am-5 pm weekdays.
Make 2016 more 'event-ful'
The City of Suwanee is currently accepting event applications for community events to be hosted at City of Suwanee parks during 2016. The deadline for applications is December 11. Once the City's event schedule is approved after the first of the year, no additional events may be added.
Each year, the City of Suwanee hosts, primarily at Town Center Park, more than 40 City- and privately planned events, including concerts, festivals, races, food truck events, and more.
"Events are an important part of community-building in Suwanee," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Each year, we love partnering with community organizations to bring great music, fun events, and unique engagement opportunities to our residents and others."
Seminar offers one-stop business essentials
Being a small-business owner or entrepreneur can sometimes feel like an overwhelming proposition. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce wants area entrepreneurs to know that there are many resources available to assist them. To that end, the chamber is hosting a Small Business Essentials seminar at Suwanee City Hall from 2-4 p.m. Wednesday, October 21.
The free seminar will cover business and marketing plans, finances and lending assistance, licensing and taxes, minority certification and disadvantaged business assistance, training and mentorship programs, growth, and doing business with the City of Suwanee. Representatives from the University of Georgia's Small Business Development Center, SCORE Association, Gwinnett Chamber, City of Suwanee, and Gwinnett County will be part of the panel of experts on hand.
"A lot of times, small-business owners and entrepreneurs don't have time to seek out information that can help them out," says Adam Edge, Suwanee's downtown and business development manager. "This seminar offers a one-stop forum where they can get that critical information and connect with mentors."
While the seminar is free, advanced registration is required. Register on the Events page at gwinnettchamber.org.
'Plot' a healthier, fresher 2016
Applications for plots at Suwanee's Harvest Farm organic community garden are now being accepted for 2016. Applications from returning gardeners only are due by Friday, October 16.
Garden plots are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis with priority given to City residents, property owners, and taxpayers as well as returning gardeners.
Plots are available in three different sizes, with the annual fee ranging from $50-$100. City of Suwanee residents/taxpayers receive a 25 percent discount.
Annual fees include use of a raised bed, utilities, basic community tools, social and educational events, and, when available, compost. Gardeners incur personal expenses for items such as seeds, plants, amendments, stakes, and trellises.
Art where it matters most
Photo by Bill Mahan
Suwanee's new public art master plan, adopted by City Council at its September 22 meeting, calls not for placing public art everywhere, but rather for putting art where it matters most. The plan, developed over the past six months in consultation with Todd Bressi, an independent art consultant from Philadelphia, and Meridith McKinley, a public art planning and programming professional in St. Louis, suggests that Suwanee focus its efforts on public art that is "engaging, fun, memorable, and distinctive;" helps strengthen community connections; and that, in many cases, is temporary.
The master plan suggests two themes for future projects: art + play and art + identity/City image.
Art + play projects are creative, likely pedestrian-focused, and encourage community engagement. "Think about art that you can interact with," says Bressi, "things that are related to sound and light, things that are kinetic or related to STEM education. People will see fun and interesting things, things that they've not necessarily seen before or are expecting."
Art + identity projects promote a sense of arrival within Suwanee in general or perhaps to the downtown district. Such projects could strengthen the physical connections between areas of the City. "Art can create scale, break down distances, and make those connections more interesting for people," notes Bressi.
Overall, the plan suggests a variety of art projects that could be rolled out over the next decade as opportunities arise and funding becomes available. The plan emphasizes strategic use of temporary art pieces, which Bressi notes, may be more cost effective, allow for experimentation, and keep things fresh and different.
Municipal election on Nov. 3
The City of Suwanee will hold a general municipal election Tuesday, November 3. Two City Council posts – Post 1 and Post 2 – will be on the ballot. Qualifying candidates for those positions are:
Doug Ireland (incumbent)
Dick Goodman (incumbent)
Stephan B. Caldwell
The mayor's position also is up for election, but as only one candidate – current mayor Jimmy Burnette – qualified for the position, it will not be on the ballot.
Early voting will be available at City Hall from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays October 12-30. Voting on November 3 will be from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at City Hall.
Poll officials are needed for early voting as well as election day.
Proposed project to extend Town Center
A preliminary concept drawing, provided by Terwilliger-Pappas, of the proposed mixed-use residential/retail project at Chicago Avenue and Buford Highway.
The City of Suwanee Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has taken initial steps to enter a public-private partnership with developer Terwilliger-Pappas that will create a mixed-use multifamily/retail building at Chicago Street and Buford Highway adjacent to Town Center. The proposed development, on a 3.5-acre tract currently owned by the DDA, is expected to feature a five-story structure with 10,000 square feet of street-level commercial/retail/restaurant space and 235 high-end apartments. The project also is expected to include a parking garage around which the mixed-use structure will be built.
"The City of Suwanee DDA is pursuing an exciting public-private partnership that will extend our incredible Town Center," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "This project would bring more residents, commercial opportunities, and energy to Town Center's vibrant 'live, work, play' lifestyle. This could be a win for all of us."
The Suwanee DDA and Terwilliger-Pappas have executed a letter of intent and are currently negotiating details on the $46 million project. Under the terms of the letter of intent, Suwanee's DDA would receive $600,000 in cash for the property plus ownership, at no additional cost, of the 10,000 square feet of commercial/retail space. The approximately 3.5-acre property being purchased by Terwilliger-Pappas was acquired by the City of Suwanee over time for $497,000.
The primarily one- and two-bedroom residences that are part of the project are expected to appeal to professional millennials and empty-nesters and would further the City's efforts to be a lifelong community. "We fully expect that these apartments will set the bar for quality in Gwinnett County," says Suwanee's Downtown Manager Adam Edge, "and that rental rates will exceed those of any similar existing Gwinnett County development. Studies have shown that Town Center has some of the highest property values in the county. We believe that this project will not just contribute to, but enhance, Town Center's value."
Millage rate proposed to remain the same
The City of Suwanee has proposed a millage rate of 4.93 mills, the same rate used by the City over the past three years. That rate, however, is higher than the calculated rollback rate of 4.769 mills – this is the rate that would be expected to generate the same total revenue as the previous year.
City Council is expected to adopt a fiscal year 2016 millage rate at its August 25 meeting. Because the proposed rate is anticipated to generate a 3.38 percent increase in property tax revenues, due to rising property values, the City of Suwanee will hold three public hearings on this increase.
Millage rate public hearings will be in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at:
- 5:30 p.m. Thursday, August 13
- noon Tuesday, August 25
- 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 25
The proposed 4.93 millage rate will result in a tax increase of approximately $16.10 for a home with a fair market value of $250,000 and an increase of $35.42 for a nonresidential property with a fair market value of $550,000.
As part of its growing public art program, the City of Suwanee has installed a temporary interactive public art experience – a street piano – at Town Center Park. The donated piano, painted with a colorful tree theme by the North Gwinnett Arts Association, is located at the back of the park (along Town Center Avenue close to Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road) in the area where the Farmers Market is held each Saturday.
Area residents are invited to view and especially play the piano and then post photos or video to the City of Suwanee's Facebook and/or Instagram pages. Use the hashtag #letsplaysuwanee.
The project was coordinated by Suwanee's Public Art Commission, a six-member board appointed by City Council that manages Suwanee's public art initiatives, including SculpTour and working with developers to include public art as part of their new construction projects. Over the past seven years, more than 60 temporary artworks and more than 20 permanent pieces have been displayed throughout Suwanee.
Suwanee's street piano project is inspired by British artist Luke Jerram's Play Me, I'm Yours program, through which more than 1,450 pianos have been installed in public places in 46 cities across the globe.
City wins two national awards
thanks to resident ratings
Multi-winner Business Services Director Jessica Roth, on the left, holds Voice of the People Awards previously won by the City of Suwanee.
The City of Suwanee has been named a winner of two Voice of the People Awards for Excellence – in community engagement as well as recreation and wellness – by the International City/County Management Association and National Research Center. Suwanee is the lone community among 21 jurisdictions being recognized nationally to win multiple awards.
Voice of the People awards are the only awards given in local government based on community opinion. Ratings by residents on customized National Citizen Surveys determine local government nominees in a variety of service and community characteristic categories. Suwanee administered its most recent National Citizen Survey in November. In survey results, released in March, Suwanee residents rated the City higher than other participating communities across the nation on eight questions, and Suwanee scored among the top 10 communities nationally in 27 percent of the questions.
Suwanee residents reported extremely high levels of satisfaction, compared to the more than 300 other participating jurisdictions, with community engagement, recreation and wellness, built environment, and economy. The City also is a finalist for Voice of the People Awards for Excellence in the built environment and economy categories.
The City of Suwanee was ranked #1 compared to other benchmarked communities on questions that addressed:
- City-sponsored events
- job Suwanee government does welcoming citizen involvement
- overall built environment
- availability of affordable quality childcare
- overall confidence in local government
- generally acting in the best interest of the community
- being honest
- treating all residents fairly.
An America's pastime 'doubleheader'
The Atlanta Braves will bring Game on the Green to the big screen in Suwanee' s Town Center Park Saturday, August 1, as the home team travels to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 pm, but baseball-themed festivities start at 5 p.m.
The Braves will bring inflatables, the Heavy Hitters drum line, and Homer to Town Center Park. In addition, The Sandlot will be shown on a digital board beginning at 5 p.m. This 1993 film is rated PG (for some language and kids chewing tobacco). In The Sandlot, through baseball, a group of boys finds friendship, adventure, and the courage to take on "the beast" on the other side of the fence.
The game, movie, and activities are free and open to the public. Bring friends, food, chairs, and blankets, but no alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park. Food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from Town Center merchants.
Food trucks return August 7
TGIFTF! Fridays are always good, but there's something extra special about Food Truck Fridays in Suwanee. Food trucks will roll back into Town Center Park Friday, August 7.
Dinner will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Anticipated vendors include Blaxican, Bollywood Zing, Five Finger Philly, Freckled and Blue, Hail Caesar, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Rey's Cuban Café, Tracy's Tasties, Viet-Nomie's, and Wow!
JP Blues will perform beginning about 7 p.m. Described as an indie blues band, this power trio features the vocals and guitar work of John Pagano, who has been voted by TrueFire.com as one of "100 Guitarists You Should Know."
The Suwanee Youth Leaders class, comprised of about 50 high school students participating in the City's youth leadership experience, is organizing and managing this event. The students are organizing chalk art, arts and crafts, and an obstacle course as well as a raffle to benefit the Hilaire Foundation for Melanoma.
Big plans for Downtown Suwanee
TSW consultants working with the City of Suwanee to update the Downtown Suwanee Master Plan told participants in a recent email that the draft of the update "presents an exciting vision for new development, park space, street and greenway extensions, and more." Now, the planners and City of Suwanee are inviting residents to offer their input and "make sure [TSW and the City] got it right."
The draft of the updated Downtown Master Plan will be available for public review, questions, and comments at an open house from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. This is a drop-in event; no formal presentation will be made.
Previous Downtown Master Plan public meetings have included a March 5 kick-off and April 20 visioning workshop.
At the April workshop, planning consultants with TSW and Noell Consulting Group shared market analysis information and reviewed discussion topics while participants shared ideas and feedback related to parks and transportation as well as what kinds of uses and buildings might make for good additions to the Town Center and Old Town areas.
City begins FY2016 with $14.8 million budget
At its June 23 meeting, Suwanee City Council approved a $14.8 million operating budget for fiscal year 2016, which began July 1. This budget represents a 9.2% increase over the $13.6 million budget adopted by the City last year.
The adopted 2016 budget assumes that the City's millage rate will remain at its current level of 4.93 mills; no tax rate increases are anticipated. The millage rate is scheduled to be adopted by City Council in August.
Suwanee's $14,843,060 FY2016 budget includes $45,000 in continued funding for the City's downtown and public art master plans; three new positions and two position upgrades; a maximum 4% pay-for-performance salary increase for staff; and just over $763,000 for capital expenditures that include seven replacement vehicles for the police department and other personnel, two mowers and a chipper, and police dispatch console upgrades and other equipment. Health insurance expenses increased by 11 percent; the City will cover approximately two-thirds of that increase with employees picking up the rest.
The budget also includes Suwanee's annual debt payment for bonds used to construct City Hall and several parks. That payment in FY2016 will be about $1.6 million.
Broadway with a bang, bang
This year's Broadway in the Park production is coming in with a bang, bang. Suwanee Performing Arts will present a timeless tale ideal for the whole family when it performs Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the Town Center stage Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25. Performances begin at 7 p.m. each night.
Presented by a mostly high school cast, the story follows the adventures of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and his family as they travel about in their spectacular, remodeled old car. The family encounters the evil Baron Bomburst, a child-hating dictator who wants to steal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for himself.
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun story for all ages," says Director and Production Coordinator Patty Etherton. "No matter who you are, you're going to love this show."
A middle school cast will open each evening with The Finish Line, an original one-act musical whose story ends at the 1910 Grand Prix, which is where Chitty Chitty Bang Bang begins.
Admission is free, but reserved premium seating and "sitting room only" seating near the front of stage are available for a tax-deductible donation to Suwanee Performing Arts. Call 678-482-6333.
Soul Asylum to rock wing fest
The wings aren't the only things that will be flavorful at Suwanee's August Concert & Wing Festival on August 8. Soul Asylum will serve up a tangy musical performance, especially if you came of age during the late '80s/early '90s alternative rock/grunge era.
After forming in Minneapolis in 1981, Soul Asylum, known for its first two years as Loud Fast Rules, was a frontrunner of American college rock and garnered a reputation as the country's best live band. Mid-1980s audiences were struck, according to Soul Asylum's Wikipedia article, by "the band's onstage swagger, scruffy Midwestern appearance, and extremely loud, frenetic sound – mixing tuneful but unrestrained punk, hardcore 1970s rock, country, and self-effacing kitsch." The article goes on to quote an early reviewer's description of the band's sound as "some unholy mix of Kiss and Hank Williams thrown under the wheels of a runaway train."
Appropriately, "Runaway Train," from Soul Asylum's sixth album, Grave Dancers Union, released in 1992, became the band's biggest hit, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other hits include "Somebody to Shove," "Black Gold," and "Misery."
Suwanee's August Concert and Wing Festival will begin at 5 p.m. at Town Center Park. As headline performer, Soul Asylum will take the stage around 8 p.m.
The City of Suwanee will host two events the first weekend of June: Food Truck Friday on June 5 and a double-feature Movies Under the Stars on Saturday, June 6.
The tentative food truck line-up includes Atlanta Burger Truck, Bollywood Zing, Five Finger Philly, Pressed for Time, Freckled and Blue, Happy Belly, Linkz Express, On Tapa the World, Rey's Cuban Café, Wow!, and Yoli's Street Food. The musical line-up, presented by Town Center Music, features Jon Cole and Liz Brasher & Her Band. Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. with music starting about 7.
Two movies will be shown during the June 6 Movies Under the Stars event. The 7 p.m. movie, to be shown on a digital board, is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This 2014 film starring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner is rated PG for rude humor. "Alexander is funnier than one would expect," says Blake Goble of Consequence of Sound on RottenTomatoes.com. "In a weird way, it's full of refreshingly cranky, dorky goofing."
The third installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 1, will be the second feature, shown on an inflatable big screen starting around 8:45 p.m. Jenifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, who fights to save a nation moved by her courage. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action and some disturbing images and thematic material. Critic Richard Roeper declared the film "A solid lead-up to the finale [due out in November]."
Red, white, bluegrass & Bach
Suwanee's annual Memorial Weekend concert will feature bluegrass and classical performances this year as well as a musical salute to the troops.
The Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach concert will kick off the Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 22, at Town Center Park. The event will open at 7 p.m. with the Silver Wings, the official demonstration parachute team out of Fort Benning, "dropping in" – weather permitting.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge
At 7:15 p.m. Main Street Symphony, an adult amateur orchestra associated with Huthmakers Violins, will stage a classical performance.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge, a husband-wife duo and their band, will take the stage around 8:30. One of the hottest young acts in acoustic music, the Aldridges have received multiple nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association, the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, and Inspirational Country Music Association. The band's website says: "There is a sweetness and a lightheartedness in their music with positive lyrics and the occasional sense of just plain fun."
Peace, Love & Arts in the Park
The North Gwinnett Arts Association (NGAA) is making bold, colorful promises about its May 16 Arts in the Park festival.
Clyde's on Fire
"It's going to be a wonderful day for folks to get out and see some things that inspire and educate them," says NGAA President Vickie Johnson.
Attendance at the annual festival, which will be take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Town Center Park, is free.
Arts in the Park will feature the work of about 50 juried artists, showcase onsite artist demos, encourage several create-it-yourself community art projects, and include music and food.
A chalk walk competition, open to elementary, middle, and high school students, will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with winners announced at 4. Registration is available at suwaneeartsinthepark.com. In addition, professional street artists will create long-lasting 3D chalk drawings around Town Center Park.
Throughout the day, a DJ from Uptown Entertainment will provide music that fits the Peace, Love & Arts in the Park theme. Clyde's on Fire, an Asheville-based, female-fronted bluegrass band, will close out the festival with a live performance.
New SculpTour opens May 16
'Dancer XX' by Jack Howard-Potter
The 2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour, a walkable public art exhibit in and around Town Center, is bringing more – in some cases, a lot more – than ever before. The exhibit officially opens May 16 during the Arts in the Park festival.
- This, Suwanee's fourth SculpTour exhibit, features more sculptures than ever: 17.
- It includes more local artists: Six of the 15 artists represented are from Georgia; other artists are from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York City.
- Dancer XX, a 20-foot tall galvanized and powder-coated steel sculpture created by Jack Howard-Potter, is the single heaviest sculpture to ever be included in a SculpTour exhibit. Weighing in at 2,700 pounds, this kinetic sculpture of a male figure, who stands on one leg with his arms raised and holding a long piece of fabric, rotates with the wind.
The 2015-17 exhibit is weighty not only in poundage. While several pieces represent the forest canopy and sunflowers or a variety of animals – birds of prey, cows, horses, goats, and birds in flight – several pieces reflect the artists' perception of heavy topics. Some of the themes addressed include the pain of love, looking forward optimistically while absorbing losses of the past, unattainable success, notable attributes of friendship, parent-child relationships, the dichotomy of science and faith, and the concept of awareness. See a list of 2015-17 SculpTour artworks.
A walkable public art encounter, Suwanee SculpTour is a program of the Public Arts Commission. The new exhibit will be on display through March 2017.
'Friends' by Nnamdi Okonkwo
2015-17 Suwanee SculpTour Artworks & Artists
Ball and the Red Staircase by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
BRD by Michael Dillon – Milton, GA
Capacious by Isaac Duncan – Chattanooga, TN
Carry Forward by Joey Manson – Central, SC
Cascade by Gregory Johnson – Cumming, GA
Corey by Jonathan Bowling – Greenville, NC
Cow on a Horse by Jim Collins – Signal Mountain, TN
Dancer XX by Jack Howard-Potter – New York, NY
Faith by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Father & Son by Adam Walls – Hope Mills, NC
Friends by Nnamdi Okonkwo – Fayetteville, GA
The Herd by Phil Proctor – Atlanta, GA
Love Hurts by Lee Benson – Jackson, TN
Oak Leaf Horizon by Jim Gallucci – Greensboro, NC
Sunflower Gate by Andrew T. Crawford – Atlanta, GA
Taking Flight by Jennifer Freeman – Duluth, GA
Three Muses by Hanna Jubran – Grimesland, NC
Farmers Market opens May 2
The season of fresh produce, lovely flowers, and yummy baked goods returns to Suwanee when the City's Farmers Market opens at Town Center Park Saturday, May 2. The market is open 8 am-noon Saturdays through October 3.
"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, seafood, and baked goods."
There is no Tuesday afternoon market in Suwanee this year.
Annual program puts Art on a Limb
Trees, flowers, and art are in bloom along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and in Suwanee parks. Throughout the month of May, those out enjoying nature in several of Suwanee's parks may also discover – and keep – art pieces.
Created by Suwanee area resident Tina Waltke, red clay hearts with warm, fuzzy Suwanee statements will be hidden daily (two pieces at a time) along the Suwanee Creek Greenway and at Sims Lake Park and White Street Park throughout the month of May. Suwanee's Art on a Limb program is an annual celebration of art and nature that allows those who find the trail treasures to keep them.
A sign language interpreter by day, Waltke is a chronic – perhaps even compulsive – craft-maker who doesn't like going to movie theaters because she can't work on crafts there. "I feel like I just have to do it," she says. "It's not a choice.
"I love the idea of Art on Limb," Waltke adds. "It's a sweet and giving concept, to give people something while also encouraging them to explore Suwanee's trails and parks."
Tail-wagging fun at Woofstock
Hips will be swaying and tails will be wagging Saturday, May 9, when Andy Grammer takes Suwanee's Town Center stage as musical headliner at Woofstock, Star 94's annual pet party in the park. Woofstock, which begins at noon, features canine Frisbee and dock-diving demonstrations, dog contests, food trucks and a beer garden, pet adoptions and vendors, and live music. Schedule of activities.
"Woofstock is a great event for our four-legged friends," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "The dogs are well-behaved, and the demos a lot of fun to watch. This year, we're really excited about the quality of musical performers. Star 94 is bringing in Andy Grammer as the headliner. We've been bopping around City Hall to his 'Keep Your Head Up.'"
Grammer is best-known for his hits "Fine by Me" and "Keep Your Head Up," which went gold and platinum respectively, from his self-titled 2011 debut album. He's currently touring and promoting his sophomore album Magazines or Novels.
Four-legged attendees must be on a leash. No alcohol may be brought into Town Center Park, but food and beverages, including beer and wine, may be purchased from event vendors and Town Center merchants. Parking is available at Town Center and along Main Street.
2015 Woofstock Schedule of Activities
Town Center Park
|12 pm||Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show|
|12:30 pm||Agility, High Jump, Hoops Demo|
|1:30 pm||Frisbee Toss & Fetch Demo and "How to…"|
|2 pm||Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show|
|2:30 pm||Brandon Crocker|
|2:30 pm||Agility, High Jump, Hoops Demo|
|3:45 pm||Frisbee Toss & Fetch Demo and "How to…"|
|4 pm||Slippery When Wet|
|5 pm||Air Dogs Dock-Diving Show|
|5:45 pm||Andy Grammer|
|6:30 pm||Air Dogs Dock-Diving Exhibition|
Downtown visioning workshop April 20
Buford Highway Study
The City of Suwanee and TSW design consultants continue to work through the process of creating an update for the Downtown Master Plan.
About 80 people attended the public kick-off for the planning process on March 5. The City shared details about the Buford Highway reconstruction project, which is expected to get underway in 2016. This ongoing downtown project will include bike lanes, wide sidewalks, on-street parking, and installation of a traffic roundabout at Russell Street to provide an entryway to historic Old Town.
Next, residents are invited to participate in a visioning workshop to be held at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 20.
"This workshop," says Planning and Inspections Director Josh Campbell, "offers an opportunity for participants to consider various land uses and development styles and make suggestions as to what kinds of uses might go where in downtown Suwanee."
After a brief presentation on an analysis of the Suwanee market and demographics, designers with TSW will draw in suggested developments on top of existing aerial photos of downtown Suwanee so that residents – and planners – can better visualize how certain development options will fit with existing uses.
Food trucks roll into Suwanee
Food trucks will roll into Town Center Park the first Friday of each month April-October (with the exception of July). Suwanee's first Food Truck Friday event of 2015 is on April 3.
Food will be served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. each month, with live musical performances beginning at 7 p.m.
"Town Center Music is coordinating our bands this year," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "We're excited at the level of talent and variety of music that they'll bring to the community."
The bands performing in April are Sunset District, an indie-rock collective based in Atlanta, and Littlebrother, formerly the Jon Harkey Band, who lean toward smooth pop-rock with folk influences.
The tentative food truck line-up for April includes Atlanta Chamos Grill, Down the Bayou Cajun Cuisine, Freckled and Blue, Happy Belly, King of Pops, Mac the Cheese, Pressed for Time, On Tapa the World, Tasting Maine, Tracy's Tasties, and Yolis Street Food.
Resident rankings put Suwanee at top
At the end of 2014, the City of Suwanee participated in its fourth National Citizen Survey, a statistically valid survey managed by the National Research Center that gathers resident opinions across a range of community issues. As in previous years, Suwanee residents' ratings put the City of Suwanee at or near the top in a variety of areas as compared to other communities across the country.
In fact, residents rated Suwanee higher than other participating communities across the nation in eight categories. Across the 127 categories Suwanee residents were requested to rate, Suwanee scored in the top 10 in 27 percent of them.
"The National Citizen Survey remains an important tool for us to gauge citizen satisfaction," says Mayor Jimmy Burnette. "We always learn a little something about ourselves as a community through the survey, and it's good to know that the City of Suwanee continues to be headed in the right direction."
The City of Suwanee was ranked #1 compared to other benchmarked communities in the following areas:
- City-sponsored events
- job Suwanee government does welcoming citizen involvement
- overall built environment
- availability of affordable quality childcare
- overall confidence in local government
- generally acting in the best interest of the community
- being honest
- treating all residents fairly.
Read more about Suwanee's National Citizen Survey results.Click on the image to enlarge a photo.
2015 Snap Suwanee winners
Suwanee appears fun, outdoorsy, artsy, and snowy in the dozen winning photographs that comprise the 2015 Snap Suwanee exhibit currently on display at City Hall.
Sixty entries were received for this year's annual community photo competition. The winning photographs will be on display until February 2016.
"Snap Suwanee has become one of the City's favorite community engagement projects," says Public Information Officer Lynne DeWilde. "It's always fun to see what strikes our photographers as noteworthy from year to year. This year's winning photos capture moments one doesn't see every day in Suwanee – from a hot air balloon in Town Center to snow to a paddleboarder on the Chattahoochee. They also capture those moments that are more ubiquitous, including folks interacting with public art and utilizing Suwanee parks as backdrops."
Enjoy a few 2015 Snap Suwanee winning photographs in this online slideshow, but stop by City Hall to see and appreciate all of the photos.
New event promises to be legen-dairy
The City of Suwanee is hosting a sharp new event this spring. Suwanee's Big Cheesy Festival on Saturday, April 18, will feature cooking demos as well as cheese and beverage pairings, on-site cheese sculpting, food trucks and other vendors offering cheese-related products (including grilled cheese doughnuts), an artisan market, human foosball tournament, and live musical performances, including headliner Cole Taylor, presented in cooperation with KICKS 101.5. This free event is from 2-10 p.m. at Town Center Park.
"We're excited to be offering this event, which allows us to really embrace our quirky cheesiness," says Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Who doesn't love food and music, and the human foosball games are going to be a blast. We hope everyone comes out, we promise it's going to be a 'gouda' time."
Sarah Kaufmann, aka the Cheese Lady, will be on hand creating an oversized cheese carving. In addition, Choices to You will sponsor do-it-yourself cheese sculpting opportunities.
The human foosball tournament will have teams of six players (with up to two alternates allowed per team) vying for the title of "Big Cheese." Up to 16 teams may compete, and prizes will be awarded for first and second place as well as best costume/uniform and team name. Youth ages 8-17 as well as adults may play. The deadline to register is April 10; registration fee is $25/team.
Musical performances will kick off at 5 p.m. with headliner Cole Taylor, an up-and-coming country artist, taking the stage about 8:30 p.m. Taylor, a singer/songwriter who signed with Universal Music Publishing Group after being in Nashville just nine months, has a new extended play release, featuring "Break That Lonely" and penned Florida-Georgia Line's single "Sippin' on Fire."
Be part of our award-winning festival
The 2014 Suwanee Fest recently earned four Kaleidoscope Awards from the Southeast Festivals and Events Association (SFEA), including Best Festival. With exhibitor and entertainment applications now being accepted for the 2015 Suwanee Fest, artists and performance groups are invited to apply to be part of this multi-award-winning community festival.
Suwanee Fest will take place September 19 & 20 at Town Center Park. Exhibitor and entertainment applications are available at suwaneefest.com. The deadline for applications is June 1.
"Suwanee is a great festival because...you're going to get the really heavy traffic," said 2014 exhibitor Julie Wettlaufer of Designs by Jewel. "I just love the atmosphere of Suwanee Fest. It brings a really nice crowd."
In addition to naming Suwanee Fest the Best Festival in the "budget over $75,000" category, SFEA also awarded the festival for:
- Best Volunteer – in recognition of Chair Janis Beavin's multiple years of service and for leading the festival as it transitioned from a one-day to two-day event.
- Best Creative Idea – for hosting a Blast a Stormtrooper activity in place of what would have been an unused sponsor booth.
- Best t-shirt – the Suwanee Fest t-shirt won a silver award in this category.
The awards were presented February 17 in Chattanooga during the Southeast Festivals and Events Association's annual conference. More than 100 entries were received from organizations in five states.
For the Love of Suwanee
Two messages that author and bottom-up community development guru Peter Kageyama hammers home in his book For the Love of Cities are that little things matter a lot and that creative, innovative, and engaged citizens are essential to producing vibrant, lovable communities. Kageyama will explore these topics and inspire residents to work together to make Suwanee even more loveable when he visits March 23-25.
Kageyama's keynote presentation will be an interactive community workshop, offered from 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the George Pierce Park Community Center. All Suwanee residents and businesspeople are invited to attend this free workshop. Please RSVP to email@example.com by March 17 if you plan to attend.
In addition to discussing what people love about Suwanee and strategies for how to increase citizens' emotional engagement with their community, Kageyama will challenge participants to come up with small, inexpensive ideas that will make Suwanee more lovable.
In his 2011 book, Kageyama outlines a city hierarchy, similar to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, that posits that once a community's "basic" needs of function (e.g., potholes are repaired expeditiously) and safety are met, citizens aspire to live in places that provide social interaction, are interesting and unique, and offer meaningfulness.
Designs on downtown
Photo by David Douglas
The City of Suwanee will officially kick off its second update to the Downtown Master Plan at a community meeting at City Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 5. Originally adopted in 2002 and last updated in 2009, the Downtown Master Plan provided the foundation for development of Town Center.
This Downtown Master Plan update, which will include a market analysis, design charrette for targeted areas, and other opportunities for public input, is intended to determine the kinds of development that will be appropriate for downtown and to position the City to be eligible for grant funds related to transportation projects associated with future development.
"The original Downtown Master Plan," says Planning Director Josh Campbell, "was one of the biggest factors in transforming Suwanee into what it is today. Hopefully, this update will have similar transformative effects. As the economy is picking up, we anticipate significant development opportunities over the next several years. Downtown Suwanee is by no means a finished product, and we're looking forward to broadly programming additional pedestrian-oriented, mixed uses in the area while respecting the character of what we already have."
In addition to considering specific development opportunities in the downtown area, the plan will focus on transportation, open space, and connectivity. The area in the study covers Town Center and Old Town and includes the entire Downtown Development Authority area.
See a map of downtown area and additional information about the Downtown Master Plan update on the Community/Downtown Master Plan page.
Food, music, fun & more
A total of 48 events, including 19 runs/walks, six Food Truck Fridays, numerous traditional favorites, and several new events, are sprinkled throughout the City of Suwanee's 2015 event calendar.
New events include the Big Cheesy Festival on April 18, Chili Cook-Off on May 2, Melanoma Awareness event on May 31, and Alive! Expo on October 24.
Suwanee's very popular Food Truck Fridays are back the first Friday of the month April-October, with the exception of July. Also back are favorites such as Suwanee Beer Fest on March 14, Woofstock on May 9, Arts in the Park May 16, and Taste of Suwanee October 10.
Broadway in the Park returns to the Town Center stage July 24 and 25 with performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Suwanee Fest will be September 19 and 20.
Here are a few changes to the 2015 events calendar:
- The Suwanee Farmers Market, which opens May 2, will be Saturdays only this year.
- The Memorial Day weekend kick-off event is being reworked and tentatively will be rebranded as Red, White, Bluegrass & Bach.
- All Movies under the Stars presentations – on June 6, July 18, and August 29 – will be double-features.
Ride along with one of Suwanee's finest
Suwanee's Citizens Police Academy allows residents a better understanding of the day-to-day functions of police officers as well as an opportunity to patrol Suwanee's streets alongside an officer. The next academy will be offered Monday evenings March 9-May 11. Classes will be from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Suwanee Police Training Center, 2966 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road.
Notarized applications are due Friday, February 27.
The academy offers classroom training and hands-on experiences in crime scene processing, traffic stops, building searches, crime prevention, and narcotics identification and provides an understanding of the risks and responsibilities of officers. The program is designed to open and maintain communication between citizens and the police department.
Classes are free and open to the public, but space is limited and preference is given to Suwanee residents or those who work in the City of Suwanee. A criminal and driver history background is required for all applicants. For additional information, contact Theresa Miranda or call 770-904-7669.
Run 13.1 on 1/31
You can be a part of history in 2015: Georgia Fitness and the City of Suwanee are teaming together to host the first-ever Suwanee Gateway Half Marathon on Saturday, January 31.
"If you can run a 10K, you can run a half marathon," says Georgia Fitness Manager Jason Vance. "The more training you do," he adds, "the more confident you'll be."
At the same time, Vance believes that the Suwanee half is scheduled so that it will make a good training run for those preparing for a spring marathon.
The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. at Town Center Park. From there, the Peachtree Road Race-certified, 13.1-mile course will meander through Old Town, along Eva Kennedy to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, to Tench Road and eventually George Pierce Park and the Suwanee Creek Greenway to McGinnis Ferry Road, up and back along Northolt, and back along the Greenway to the finish at City Hall.
Race volunteers are needed as well. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer.
The season of fresh produce, lovely flowers, and yummy baked goods returns to Suwanee when the City's Farmers Market opens on Saturday, May 2. The market is in search of farmers, herb and flower growers, butchers, bakers, jams and soap makers, and others to participate in its 11th season. Vendor applications are due March 30.
"The Suwanee Farmers Market has a loyal customer and farmer base," notes Suwanee Events Manager Amy Doherty. "Our market is almost as much a social event as it is an opportunity to access locally grown produce and a variety of other items, such as salsa, honey, eggs and meat, and baked goods."
The Suwanee Farmers Market does not accept arts and crafts, non-licensed products, or produce re-sold from other markets. See additional guidelines.
Vendors who have been part of the Suwanee Farmers Market for less than two years are required to attend the annual Farmers Market meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, at Suwanee City Hall, 330 Town Center Avenue. In addition, all farmers may be subject to facility inspections by the market manager.
The Suwanee Farmers Market will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, May 2-October 3, at Town Center Park. The City of Suwanee will not host Tuesday markets this year.
Put your 'designs' on Suwanee Fest
Your creativity + Suwanee Fest could = $500!
The winning creator of the 2015 Suwanee Fest theme logo, which will be used on official festival t-shirts and marketing posters, will receive $500. The theme for the 2015 festival, to be celebrated September 19 and 20, will be "For the love of Suwanee."
The competition is open to professional and amateur designers of all ages. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-generated. Entries should be submitted in printed and electronic format. The deadline for submission is May 1. See guidelines for additional information and an entry form.
Suwanee Fest is the community's annual two-day fall celebration. The award-winning festival includes arts and crafts exhibitors, children's rides and activities, and on-stage entertainment. Last year, approximately 55,000 people attended the festival at Town Center Park. For more information, visit the Suwanee Fest website.
Google: Suwanee is 2014 eCity
Google has announced that the City of Suwanee is Georgia's 2014 eCity and one of the country's digital capitals. This designation from the global technology company recognizes Suwanee as having the strongest online business community in the state.
"We're thrilled," says Suwanee Mayor Jimmy Burnette, "and if I could speak in emoticons, I'd add several of those to this statement. More seriously, I'm very proud of our connected, forward-thinking, and engaged community. Like many of our businesses, the City of Suwanee has worked hard to keep pace with electronic technology and the opportunities it presents, maintaining a dynamic website, having a strong social media presence, and, most recently, making our website mobile-friendly.
"We know that e-commerce is a big part of Suwanee's thriving economy and we welcome that, and we'll continue to embrace electronic and other technologies to further strengthen our economy and overall community."
To determine America's digital capitals, Google and IPSOS, an independent research firm, analyzed the online strength of local small businesses in cities across the country. Factors considered included whether small businesses had a website, used a blog, promoted themselves via social networks, sold goods directly from their website, and had a mobile-friendly website.
"Clearly there is a growing entrepreneurial spirit in Suwanee, which should be embraced," says Brett Williams, Google's director of SMB marketing, Americas. "Businesses in Suwanee are turning to the internet to start and develop their own businesses and we hope Suwanee becomes an inspiration to other areas in the country."