Norcross State of City Address Recap: Annexation, Police and Quality of Life

The annual presentation, which was held Monday at Norcross High, covered many of the city's accomplishments last year and what residents should expect for 2013.

Norcross had its annual State of the City Address on Monday to applaud the city's accomplishments made in 2012 and set the vision for 2013.

With about 100 people in attendance, the event was held at the Paul Duke building at Norcross High School to honor the Blue Devils team winning the AAAAAA football championship this past season.

Mayor Bucky Johnson delivered the address, which featured six short videos (including the new city commercial by local production company the Atlanta Idea Studio) and special guest speakers Norcross High Principal William Bishop, City Manager Rudolph Smith and Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers.

The mayor covered the milestones of 2012, which includes the passing and implementation of the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) Study for the Town Center Downtown Plan. As soon as the council passed the plan last summer, the city updated the streetscape for Skin Alley and construction hasn't stopped for the surrounding streets.

The mayor also talked about the city's annexation east of Buford Highway. Since acquiring the area of 5,000 residents early last year, Johnson said it's helped balance the city budget and code enforcement has kept the area in check. Around 3,500 code citations were given out since the annexation, but 98 percent of them were resolved outside of court.

Other city accomplishments include:

  • FedEx Ground opening a $43 million automated distribution facility in Norcross
  • Adding a $300,000 bathroom, in addition to other updates, to Lillian Webb Park
  • Upgrading the Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center
  • Renovating and paying off the Lively Street Public Works building
  • Implementing the "Smart Grid" meter system, which are digital readers in homes and businesses that provide real-time info to the power company and give consumers more access to their energy information
  • The new 911 service that automatically transfers caller information from the county dispatch to Norcross Police

Johnson also assured quality of life is still at the top of the priority list. From the summer concert series to the art exhibits and the farmers market, events are constantly being held downtown, and there's always something to do. The city was given the Best Green Government award by Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful in 2012, and Gwinnett Magazine gave it the Best Downtown award. Additionally, last year marked the seventh consecutive year that Norcross has been named a Tree City USA community.

Speaking of quality of life, Chief Summers stole the mic for a moment to speak about how safety and security is another priority. Since Summers joined the department in January 2012, Norcross has implemented its copper theft prevention service, gained five new officers, and placed GPS in all the cars to know when, where and how often the patrols go through an area.

From the five officers, a crime suppression team was created, and it helps with locating crime "hot spots" and directing more patrol cars through those areas, said Summers.

Despite all the accomplishments, the number of reported incidents has increased because of the annexation. Summers said traffic accidents have escalated, mainly due to vehicles running red lights along Jimmy Carter Boulevard. Summers said the department aims to educate the public on how to reduce the number of collisions.

For 2013, residents and visitors should expect to see more downtown foot patrol, in addition to officers cruising the parks in golf carts. The department also plans to upgrade its citywide camera system known as Iron Sky.

Aside from police, Norcross has other plans for the rest of the year. The city intends to sell its water and sewer department to the county, and an offer may come up later in 2013. 

Other things to look out for this year:

  • Additional park space on the east side of Buford Highway
  • The kickoff of a major $1 million Safe Routes to School project, which would benefit the Summerour Middle area
  • A new city website
  • At least two new downtown businesses
  • Studies on downtown parking, railroad intersections and a multi-use trail connecting Lilburn and Norcross
  • The diverging diamond interchange at I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard

Lastly, the following residents and volunteers were recognized for their efforts in Norcross: Art and Nancy Geist, Gordon Tomlinson, Nanette Arceneaux, Terri Hoye, Donna Blanton, Deb Wilson Harris, Chuck Cimarik and Faye McFarland. They were given a plaque with a proclamation, a Norcross license plate, and to make things interesting, a football to throw into the crowd.

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