An interview with a neighbor: Leslie Richardson

In Tucker, the neighbors know how to TC says Leslie Richardson

Leslie Richardson, 52, is sales director for the ad agency Five Minute Productions and past president of the Tucker Civic Association.

Tucker's the best-kept secret in Atlanta. It's unincorporated, so we manage everything with all of our groups. We've got all of these community groups and a real sense of community because of that. We're not expecting anyone to do anything for us. We're doing it ourselves.

We got together with the Atlanta Regional Commission and put together a survey for residents. It asks things like, what do you feel about mobility and accessibility here, diversity, social interaction, access to services, access to health and wellness, "How are we doing?" basically. And it was an overwhelming response, first of all, and second, the response was, "We want to know how to help, we want to know how to volunteer. What can we do? How can we be involved?" We have something called Give an Hour. Every month, come by for an hour and give your time to a worthy cause. It might be a blood drive. We've got toy drives. At Johns Homestead Park, they've got a sort of dilapidated building that we're renovating because it's a very historical place. People come out and help paint, knock down, rebuild, whatever.

We're getting focus groups together ... on everything from "How can we market ourselves better" to "How can we provide services for the elderly? How can we make more parks and green space?"

On the issue of the proposed city of Lakeside, which would include 40 percent of Tucker: We did a feasibility study on the issue of cityhood for Tucker about 10 years ago. We have a business base, but we don't have a strong enough, deep enough base to support incorporation. We enjoy all of the services from DeKalb County, and the rest of it we do ourselves. ... We're an oasis, and we're doing things through volunteer efforts. Instead of saying, "There's a need, and let's get the government or officials to help us," we're doing it ourselves. We've got a huge amount of grant money from the Atlanta Regional Commission's Lifelong Communities Initiative and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. We've got over $30,000 in grants. We're doing things like getting MARTA bus stop seats, lots of transportation initiatives, sidewalks, parks, community gardens, farmers markets, better intersection crossings for the elderly.

I would love to see a couple of fine-dining institutions here, kind of like Decatur has. I'd like to see more festivals. ... I would love to see a community center, more places where people can gather and hang out ... a structure anchored by a couple of core businesses.

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