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Norcross Council Tables Digital Display Reader, Additional Parking

The city council meeting Tuesday ended with a proclamation honoring James Scarbrough, the Norcross resident who died in a June vehicle crash.

The two major items on the Norcross City Council agenda, the and the at city hall, were tabled during Tuesday's monthly council meeting.

The council was split again on the digital reader, voting 3-2 to postpone the item for the November council meeting. Councilmen Charlie Riehm, who spearheaded the effort, and Ross Kaul both voted against tabling the item. Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Hixson and councilmen Craig Newton and David McLeroy voted in favor of tabling it.

The proposal, which has been on the agenda for months now, is asking for the current announcement board, which is located by the railroad tracks on Jones Street, to be replaced with a digital LED reader. While the current old-fashioned board requires someone to physically take out and switch letters to change messages, the information on the new board would be updated instantly through a wireless remote.

As most councilmen agreed that the new reader would be more efficient and easier, the same issues of location and historical feel were brought up, as they had been in previous meetings.

Hixson, who first made the motion to table the item Tuesday, explained his biggest issue with the board was not the estimated $21,873 cost, but the location. He reiterated that it would be better to keep the current board on Jones Street and add the digital board on Holcomb Bridge, either at the intersection of Buford Highway or Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

Either location would be better for reaching larger audiences, too, he reasoned, but Riehm disagreed, saying that the Jones Street location would get enough audience for its messages.

Adding the lack of historical feel, McLeroy agreed with Hixson. "I don't think downtown is the place for it, historically," he said. "I've had a lot of comments that people just don't think it's going to fit in downtown."

Riehm said he and others believe otherwise, though, stating that it will have "minimal impact to the visual historical aspect to" downtown.

Additionally, the LED concept isn't exactly new, Riehm added, but the resolution is the tightest in the industry, making its messages crystal clear. He explained that the digital board has the option of having a black-on-white screen, which would replicate what the city currently has and would be the initial choice for Norcross.

It also would reduce the cost of changing the board's messages. He explained that the current board is changed twice or thrice a week, but the new system would be remote, saving the city up to $3,000 a year.

While the board cost is an estimated $21,873, the city has an anonymous donor willing to give $10,000 for the project, and the Downtown Development Authority would donate $6,000, too. 

Kaul reminded that both the DDA and the Architectural Review Board have both studied the proposal and have recommended it. Additionally, the city would have a five-year warranty on the board if it were in need of repairs.

Even though it's been on the agenda for months now, McLeroy said he thinks it's still too early to make a decision.

"I don't think it's well-though out where we're putting it. I'm not sure that we've listened to the community as we should have," said McLeroy, adding that the city would get a lot of backlash if it's constructed now.

Hixson essentially agreed with him, and made the first motion to table it for two months in order to seek additional information for the council.

The other item that was tabled was the parking study implementation at city hall. The proposal had been heavily discussed in the past alongside , with councilmen debating if it's worth cutting down trees and if downtown actually needs additional parking.

The council voted 5-0 to place the item on hold because the estimates for asphalt alternatives were not available in time for the Tuesday meeting. The item will reappear on the October council meeting, and it will be discussed at the September policy work session.

The only item for discussion that passed was the addition of the sign ordinance to the city. It states that city-owned digital reader boards are allowed now, as long as they are not flashing, moving or showing animations. The ordinance does not apply to downtown businesses, though.

The evening adjourned with two proclamations honoring James Scarbrough, the longtime Norcross resident who died in a vehicle collision in June. One proclamation was from Gwinnett County Commissioner Charlotte Nash, who was present during the city council meeting, and the other proclamation was from the city, which Mayor Bucky Johnson was on hand to present to the Scarbroughs.

Wife Martha Scarbrough, son Mike Scarbrough and Mike's wife, Nancy Scarbrough, accepted both proclamations.

The mayor also gave a proclamation for the American Payroll Association to honor National Payroll Week, as the city does every year.

As for the rest of the evening, all items on the consent agenda, which passed, included: the Gwinnett Village CID joint cooperation agreement and board member election; the 2012 Georgia Power franchise agreement; the city of Norcross Towncenter LCI study; the special alcohol permit for the 2nd Annual Gateway International Food and Music Festival; and upgrades to Norcross City Hall.

The repairs to the Water Works facility on Barton Street was tabled until the December council meeting.

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good neighbor September 05, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Let's see... digital sign equals Historic Norcross. NO! Little by little this town is loosing each quaint nuance that makes it unique. Have we lost the "man power" to walk over to the sign and change the letters? That's just too much effort I gather.

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