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Mayor’s Column: Providing Safety in Peachtree Corners

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How Technology Plays its Part, December 2021

One of the most–if not the most–important responsibilities of local government, is to create a safe environment for its residents and visitors. The Council, Staff and I take this responsibility very seriously. To provide a high level of safety in today’s world not only takes people, but technology as well.

We rely heavily on our Intergovernmental Agreement with the Gwinnett County Police Department (GCPD) to provide highly trained officers to enforce our laws and provide a high level of safety and security. Since we achieved cityhood, GCPD has provided Peachtree Corners with an outstanding level of service, but as the environment changes, we must continually search for ways to adapt and improve. As a city that prides itself on leading in the way of technology, we often look that way for innovative solutions.

As most of you know, the ability of police departments across the country to hire and retain qualified officers has become a challenge. Here in Gwinnett County, that is no different. As this challenge continues, the need for technology to support officers in the field has increased. The City has and will continue to work strategically with the GCPD to identify and launch solutions that support the officers in the field.

One solution that had been implemented by the City was the installation of 25 license plate reader cameras at strategic locations throughout the City. These locations were identified by GCPD as areas in which they needed more vision. These cameras are being used to scan license plates and use that information to identify any vehicles included on the ‘Be on the Look Out’ (BOLO) list issued by the police. In addition to the cameras installed by the City, GCPD has access to over 1,500 cameras in the metro Atlanta region and around 2,000 statewide. This network allows the GCPD to track a plate, over time, covering a large area.

These cameras have provided GCPD the ability to monitor multiple locations, with less officers, thus increasing the efficiency of their operations. Since the installation of these cameras, GCPD has used the technology to identify and arrest multiple suspects believed to have been involved in several shootings that occurred in the area. Additionally, the cameras have been used as a resource that has led to the recovery of over $1M in stolen property from June 2021 to October 2021. While these cameras in their current state have been successful, some criminals are aware of this type of technology and are finding ways to circumvent their current limitations.

As some of you may know, our City has dealt with a few street racing and intersection takeovers over the past couple of months. As has been occurring nationwide, those participating in these activities are not rowdy teenagers, but members of “car clubs”. They use these events to monetize their activities by recording their activities, posting videos on various social media platforms and online sites and obtaining views, shares and likes on the platforms.

Unfortunately, these events are classified as misdemeanor traffic violations by the State, and by policy, GCPD does not engage in the active pursuit of these vehicles or those participating. Recently, the laws governing these crimes have been strengthened but are only applied to those deemed repeat offenders. In response, GCPD has recommended the City upgrade our cameras with an additional application that will allow them to identify the vehicle through means other than a license plate. As we move forward, this winter, the City will be adding an additional 25 cameras at other strategic locations identified by GCPD.

Another way the City is looking to move forward is to work with our neighbors and petition our State Legislators to find other ways to enhance the laws regarding these types of incidents. The City will continue to work to have these types of activities classified as a higher level, arrestable offense and to include increased penalties for those who violate.

As the City continues to grow, the need for monitoring increases. For example, the popularity of Town Center continues to increase, and there are few times when someone isn’t enjoying the town green, playground equipment, restaurants or entertainment events. To secure the area, and to keep everyone safe, the City has enlisted the services of an off-duty police officer. To assist that officer, we will be installing a network of 76 cameras throughout the facility. This camera network will provide the officer with the ability to monitor multiple locations around town center from one central location, giving that officer the vision of 20 officers, without the need for that type of manpower. Also, when there is not an officer on duty, the video will be available to GCPD as notifications are received at their main surveillance center.

Regarding privacy, it is important to note that these cameras do not employ facial recognition capabilities or any other type of identification software. They have the technology built in to recognize crowds gathered and send notifications to the GCPD for them to verify in real time what is taking place in that field of view. This technology will provide officers with the ability to respond to a location quickly if the need arises.

The City of Peachtree Corners is committed to keeping our citizens safe whenever and wherever they may be in our City. Through our strong partnership with GCPD, we will continue to support them with technology that enhances and multiplies their effectiveness to patrol and provide the highest level of safety and security to our residents and visitors. While we fully support their role in providing public safety to our citizens, we understand and acknowledge that your public safety is our responsibility, and we will continue to work to make Peachtree Corners the safest city in the state

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Peachtree Corners Launches Nonprofit Emergency Relief Grant Program

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Nonprofit Emergency Relief Grant Program

The City of Peachtree Corners has launched a Nonprofit Emergency Relief Grant Program that uses ARPA funding the city received as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law in March 2021, the city received funding in two disbursements. This program will be used to distribute funding to qualified nonprofit service providers who assist residents of Peachtree Corners with needs such as:

  • early childhood learning services,
  • literacy,
  • childcare,
  • mental health counseling,
  • housing assistance,
  • utility assistance and
  • food insecurity.

“We have worked to ensure the application process is as simple and seamless as possible and will benefit those residents that need our help the most,” said Cory Salley, the city’s Finance Director. “With funding from the federal government, there are restrictions on how the funds may be allocated and specific requirements that must be followed to receive funding. The details are included in the applications which are accessible through the city’s website.”

This program differs from the city’s small business and nonprofit operating grant program 2021 as qualified nonprofits will be required to use the funding to provide direct services to residents. Funding will not be available to nonprofits seeking to replace or bolster operational funding.

“We are very pleased that the city can present this grant program to our nonprofit service providers. It will be the mechanism we use to distribute these monies into the hands of nonprofits who support those who need it the most,” said Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason.

“The council and I believe we must notify our nonprofit service providers of this grant program as soon as possible to distribute the funds as quickly and efficiently as we can,” he added.

Learn more about the program and the corresponding grant application on the City of Peachtree Corners’ dedicated web page, ARPA Nonprofit Emergency Relief Grant, at peachtreecornersga.gov/264/American-Rescue-Plan-Act .

In addition to the application available through the website, and to assist applicants, Peachtree Corners will host a webinar on February 1 at 2 p.m.

The grant application process launched on January 20 and ends on Wednesday, February 22 at 4:30 p.m. For questions, please email grants@peachtreecornersga.gov.

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Peachtree Corners State of the City Address [Article]

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Intuitive Surgical

A decade of good management has resulted in brighter prospects and bigger plans.

With a decade of smart growth and responsible stewardship under its belt, the city of Peachtree Corners released its annual State of the City address online, just before the end of 2022. As a leader in incubating new technology, it’s no wonder that one of the most prosperous fruits of what is quickly being called the “Silicon Orchard” has decided to use a new method of disseminating information about its future.

Through a video link, shared through email addresses of residents and stakeholders and accessible through the Peachtree Corners website, officials provided information about the city’s growth and development. They included transparency about issues that have emerged and how they are being dealt with.

Everyone is invited to take a tour of the city with Mayor Pro Tem Weare Gratwick and learn more about the construction, recreation, infrastructure, education and redevelopment projects that have been completed — and to find out what is on the horizon for Peachtree Corners.

Mayor Pro Tem Weare Gratwick (left) and Mayor Mike Mason

“We’ve been a city for 10 years and have a lot to show for it,” said Mayor Mike Mason in the video’s introduction. “For those of you who remember the “PTC Yes!” campaign, the theme was ‘We’re at the tipping point,’ meaning we needed to act to give our community the tools to control our own destiny.

“At that time, our city was literally at the tipping point of decline,” he explained. “Property values were stagnant, companies were moving out, and the area was starting to show its age. There were still a lot of great things about Peachtree Corners, and by focusing on a balanced approach to redevelopment, public safety and quality of life, we’ve tipped things back towards progress and continue to maintain a zero-city tax rate for all of us.”

Mason and other city leaders don’t take all the credit for the city’s success.

“There’s a lot to be proud of. And it’s not just due to a great city council, but to the balanced approach to new development and redevelopment that we followed for the past 10 years,” Mason concluded.

Updated vision

“As most of you may know, most of the development in this area was done by a gentleman named Paul Duke during the 70s and 80s. After 50 years, things were starting to look a little in need of redevelopment,” said Mason. “So that’s why, since the very beginning, we’ve adopted a balanced approach, with some new development and some redevelopment to our efforts.”

Mason pointed out that nothing stays shiny and new forever, and that’s why carrying out the vision and adjusting it as needed for the future is a cornerstone of economic development in Peachtree Corners.

Gratwick started his city tour at the Town Green where the new playground equipment was installed this year. To say it has been a big hit is an understatement. It was designed for children aged 5 to 12 and includes some equipment specifically for special needs children.

As one of the most substantially enhanced playground systems in the county, it has spiral slides, bridges, game panels and obstacle climbers, according to the manufacturer. The size of this commercial-grade structure permits it to entertain groups of more than 100 children.

The multi-leveled playhouse section boasts six slides: five tube slides and one open-aired spiral slide. Kids can dash between the slides along the various bridges. When they’re not involved in high-octane activity, they can make music on the chime panel or marvel at the gear panel.

“There are places for parents to sit, and there will be a permanent shade structure once it comes in,” said Gratwick.

The Forum

Residential, retail development

The enhanced park is just one amenity that encourages increased residential, and therefore retail and commercial, growth. Gratwick pointed out that The Forum, a hub of development has become the city’s largest revitalization project.

“It is really hard to believe The Forum is over 20 years old now and in need of some attention. Vacancies had gotten to 25% and were threatening to go higher. Everyone agreed we needed to do something to save it,” he said.

After North American Properties purchased the site, there was a difference of opinion about the role housing should play in the redevelopment plan, specifically apartment housing.

“In the end, a majority of the council felt additional housing was necessary to create the energy needed to support and improve our shops and restaurants at the Forum and offset the headwinds of changes in retail that have been accelerating since the pandemic,” said Gratwick.

  • Phase one of North American Properties’ plan includes enhancements to the middle of The Forum where it will relocate parking and create interactive community spaces, including a small green space and a food hall with outdoor seating.
  • Phase two will include new apartments which will be located behind the landscaping off Peachtree Parkway. This landscaping will remain in place with apartments behind where the pavement stops.
  • Phase three will include a new boutique hotel.

Gratwick went on to emphasis that a city can’t have a “no apartments zone” and that Peachtree Corners City Council is looking at every proposed housing project on it individual merits and how it fits into the city’s master plan.

“There is a state mandated requirement that every city rewrite its land use plan every 10 years,” said Gratwick. The city is in the midst of a development survey and needs as much input as possible. There will be community forums and online surveys where residents and stakeholders are encouraged to learn more about the process.

Intuitive Surgical above and below

Jobs here help neighboring economies

Perhaps the most highly anticipated project in recent years is Intuitive Surgical bringing its East Coast headquarters to Peachtree Corners. The robotic-assisted surgery technology company is bringing more than 1,200 jobs with an average salary of over $130,000. It is investing more than $600 million to create a state-of-the-art medical campus that will bring visitors who will fill the 19,000 hotel rooms used annually in Peachtree Corners.

While that is a huge boon to the city, it means a lot to the surrounding area as well.

“We are approaching a point where we will have more jobs in the city than residents, which is a sign of a healthy, vibrant community,” said Gratwick. “Of course, with that comes challenges; we will need to continue …to meet the right balance of growth and preservation of things that make us the great city to live in now.”

To add to the employment growth, the city created Curiosity Lab as a smart technology incubator. It has attracted numerous businesses and thousands of jobs.

“Curiosity Lab was founded when our staff discovered there was a missing second step in the evolution of technology, particularly with autonomous vehicles,” said Gratwick. “There was the initial phase, the controlled lab, the crawl space, if you will, and the run space which would be active in users, but there wasn’t a place to test with variables in place.”

Curiosity Lab sets Peachtree Corners apart from most other cities because of its 5G enabled living laboratory for testing and developing smart city Internet of Things (IoT) and mobility. Gratwick mentioned two companies that are making important strides.

SkyMul has created software to provide drones with the ability to remotely tie together rebar in construction projects. The young company, headed by CEO Eohan George, took over half of Curiosity Lab’s design space to further develop its SkyTy drone solution, according to a press release. The goal is to tie reinforcing bar (rebar) at construction sites almost two and half times faster, 32% cheaper and with 84% less labor than manual rebar tying.

Pipedream Labs underground delivery system route

Gratwick also highlighted Pipedream Labs, a company that is testing an innovative underground delivery system. The company has leased space in the development and will be testing the delivery of packages and food.

Quality of life

In the video, Gratwick pointed out that the city has almost completed the 1.74 mile stretch of multi-use trail along east Jones Bridge Road.

“If you recall the mayor’s presentation from last year, when he talked about the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Chattahoochee RiverLands project, this will be part of a 150-mile stretch of multi-use trails from Buford Dam all the way down to Newnan,” said Gratwick. “Our project will have a pedestrian crossing at Johns Creek.” He added that discussions are already underway with the city of Johns Creek.

Wolf Creek Lift Station

Gratwick wrapped up the presentation by pointing out efforts to improve the quality of life in Peachtree Corners. Parks, trails and retail developments are obvious, and they are projects that are highly visible. He added that just as important are the components you can’t see.

“If you’ve been in Simpsonwood Park lately, you’ve probably noticed the Wolf Creek Lift Station improvement,” said Gratwick. “While this is a county project and not a city project, it is a much-needed upgrade to the sewer that serves the northwest quadrant of our city. …This is not a sexy project, but it is one that will ensure that we will have ample sewer capacity and no interruptions to service.”

Additional projects discussed in the State of the City video is embedded below. Please scroll down.


Planning a city and keeping it vibrant, safe and efficient for its residents, businesses and visitors takes the input of the entire city. That’s why Peachtree Corners has asked the community to help with its next development plan.

Officials estimate it will take about two minutes to answer the multiple choice questions that will guide growth activity, including projects and policies aimed at improving the economic climate in Peachtree Corners.

View the Peachtree Corners 2022 State of the City address at State of the City 2022. Take the business survey at Business Survey (surveymonkey.com).

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City Government

State of the City 2022 [Video]

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State of the City of Peachtree Corners

Peachtree Corners has now been a city for ten years and we have a lot to show for it. For those of you who remember the PTC Yes! Campaign, the theme was “we’re at the tipping point,” meaning we needed to act to give our community the tools to control our own destiny. 

At that time, our City was literally at the tipping point of decline. Property values were stagnant, companies were moving out, and the area was starting to show its age. There were still a lot of great things about Peachtree Corners, and by focusing on a balanced approach to redevelopment, public safety, and quality of life, we’ve tipped things back towards progress and continue to maintain a zero-city tax rate for all of us! 

Take a tour of the City with Mayor Pro Tem Weare Gratwick and learn more about the construction, recreation, infrastructure, education, redevelopment, and more that have been completed and are on the horizon in Peachtree Corners.

We hope you can see why we say the state of the city is great. After 10 years as a city, together, we have accomplished a lot, and we look forward to a bright future. Stay safe, thanks for watching and we hope to see you around the City.

Scroll down for the Video

Courtesy of the City of Peachtree Corners

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