Suwanee residents recognized for being trendsetters

SUWANEE - Suwanee residents got a well-deserved pat on the back recently.

They've been very busy working to improve their community: planning and building parks, offering feedback and insights through various master planning processes and working with police officers to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods.

Their efforts have been noticed.

The Georgia Municipal Association and Georgia Trend Magazine have awarded Suwanee residents a 2006 Trendsetter Award for "Hearing Voices: Community Input in City Government."

This award, the second consecutive Trendsetter Award received by the city of Suwanee, is to be presented today at the GMA's annual Mayors' Day conference at the Atlanta Hilton.

"Suwanee's approach to community input is impressive," said Stacy Jones, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government and a Trendsetter Award judge.

"When they got input that would change the scope of their project, instead of saying 'Too bad ... we are too far along in our design,' they stopped, listened and made the changes. The use of volunteers to create a sense of community and ownership is indeed trendsetting."

Residents who provided input to the Trendsetter Award selection committee had this to say about some of Suwanee's community-infused projects:

•"As Suwanee continues to grow, PACT (Police & Citizens Together program) keeps it from being a police department that's really a 911 service. It gives you somebody that you know that can be your primary point of contact with the police." - David Hancock

• "It (helping build the PlayTown Suwanee playground) was just the most rewarding thing that you can imagine. ... Every time we visit the playground, (my 4-year-old son) is so proud to say, 'This is the playground that my mom built.'" - Melissa Fernandez

This year's Trendsetter Award marks at least the 20th award/certification received by the city of Suwanee since it was recognized as a City of Excellence in January 2003.

The awards have recognized excellence in communications and marketing, financial reporting, planning, policing and special events as well as the city's Open Space Initiative.