About 26 residents of Underwood Hills attended a lively meeting last Monday at a new venue, Round Trip Brewing, which opened especially for our meeting. With an additional 12 online, this marks a complete reversal of recent trends, which saw many more logged in via Zoom than in person.
The UHNA President Steven Lindsay outlined the goals for the year: expanding our community outreach with a focus on segments underrepresented in current membership, in particular renters and apartment dwellers, and engaging Teens more, primarily via community service projects.
The 2023 UHNA budget was approved unanimously after some brief explanation.
Our guest from Meals on Wheels Atlanta (MOWA) could not attend, so Communication Chair Eugen provided an outline of what we learned from meeting with them and some possibilities for partnering with them in Underwood Hills.
An informal discussion on the Howell Mill Walmart was held. Unfortunately, in the absence of Council Member Dustin Hillis, the only input from official sources was an email from the leasing agent, who stated that they (and the property owner!) were blindsided by Walmart's decision to close permanently and hadn't even had their questions answered and were unable to provide anything further but would keep in touch.
Some of the results from the discussion:
Around nine attendees would like Walmart to reopen, and ten voted by hand for something different.
Many were concerned about Crime, Security, and Homelessness, both now with the site closed and for any future use; what will happen with the property? Is there a security plan, considering Walmart’s long history of security issues while open?
One attendee reported that security staff is currently present, redirecting foot and vehicle traffic from the closed store.
Another concern was the supply of groceries, particularly for low-income folks, although Kroger is nearby and is attempting to address that- but is struggling.
Suggestions for alternative uses included a Hardware or home goods store, an Urban Costco, an Indoor entertainment venue (i.e., air time, bowling, pickleball, tennis, etc.), Gym, Antique Mall/ Indoor Market, a Farmers Market (similar to Dekalb Farmers Market or Sweet Auburn Market), Trader Joe's, Aldi, or Lidl.
UHNA will pass this information on to our Council Member and the leasing agent and host further discussions if needed. Facilitating focus groups with residents was a suggestion from the audience to keep the dialogue going.