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MARCH 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 3

Section Two

Buckhead Reporter COMMENTARY

Local leaders react to GDOT’s toll lanes plan P10


Dunw oody


piano man in a department store P25 ►Donna Lefont helps keep film history alive P25 ►STAR students and teachers P33

Livable Buckhead plans green and grounded new home













Employerpaid housing idea gains traction, but discrimination is concern

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An architect’s illustration of the Tower Place courtyard where Livable Buckhead would make its new home.


250 police cameras were dead for months in contract blunder


Around 250 surveillance cameras in the Atlanta Police Department’s vaunted “Operation Shield” crime-fighting network were dead for months starting last fall, with some still down in early February, after a maintenance contract blunder.

“They were all over the city… Certainly, some of them were in Buckhead,” said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation, the private group that helps fund and manage Operation Shield, about the dead cameras. The problem was the city’s failure to pick up the maintenance duties and bills after initial, three-year conSee 250 on page 22




The Buckhead Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIPs 30305, 30327 and 30342 For information:


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The pirates who bring Mardi Gras to Buckhead P12

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It’s time again to get counted P20


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An age-old marketing tactic of offering rent discounts to employees of certain companies could be boosted into corporate-subsidized housing in a concept that is gaining political traction among Buckhead leaders. But such “preferred employer programs” may shut other people out of the housing market and were banned in Seattle as discriminatory. The idea of super-sized preferred employer programs was raised last year in a housing affordability study commissioned by the Buckhead Community Improvement District and the nonprofit Livable Buckhead. The study looked at the affordability crunch and ways to preserve middle-income housing closer to Buckhead’s employment centers to cut down on commuter traffic. As the first concrete step from that study’s recommendations, Livable Buckhead now seeks to study preferred employer programs and is awaiting word on a grant to conduct it. “We haven’t even started the conversations yet,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead. It remains to be seen whether the concept is viable, she said. But the gist at this point is anything from a company covering an employee’s security deposit to the “employer actually buying housing units and having them available to employees,” she said. Some local apartment complexes offer

See EMPLOYER on page 23



(See Page 8)


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2 | Community ■

Struggling ‘Shops’ likely to be renamed ‘Buckhead Village,’ add community-friendly businesses BY JOHN RUCH

The struggling and ridiculed mixeduse complex called The Shops Buckhead Atlanta likely will be renamed Buckhead Village – matching the old nightclub neighborhood it largely replaced – and will add more affordable and communityfriendly options, the CEO of its new owner said. Matt Bronfman, principal and CEO of Jamestown, the real estate company that bought the complex last year, discussed the plans at the Feb. 6 annual luncheon of the Buckhead Business Association, held at the 103 West event facility. In wideranging remarks, he also talked about the international reputations of Buckhead and President Trump. “Buckhead Village—and I am calling it Buckhead Village,” Bronfman said to loud applause as he discussed the complex. “People have gone back and forth on [the] name. I think the true name of the project should be Buckhead Village.” Bronfman said he’d like to “wave a magic wand” and clear out many of the luxury-market tenants of the six-block complex, which runs along Peachtree Road between East Paces Ferry and Pharr roads. He said its future is more “accessi-

ble” retail with “more staples,” and will include a bookstore, a coffee shop, more greenspace and use of rooftop spaces. “There were mistakes made in how it was done…[A] mistake in the past was thinking there was a need for, call it a Rodeo Drive in Buckhead,” Bronfman said. “…It’s not enough of a community center.” Among the complex’s problems, he said, “is people don’t want to linger. And we want projects where people are comfortable just staying and hanging out.” Jamestown’s track record with megaredevelopments of Ponce City Market and the Westside Provisions District are the approaches he said he has in mind. The Buckhead vision won’t be identical, but it will have the themes of attracting foot traffic and the general public. Now on its third owner-developer and fourth name in 12 years, the complex has had a tortuous development history and branding struggles. The $1.5 billion development in Buckhead Village sprang from a notorious stabbing during the 2000 Super Bowl, which crystalized local concerns about crime and energized a push to gentrify what at the time was one of the city’s biggest nightclub districts. Originally conceived under the name Buckhead Avenues, which drew a le-

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gal challenge over a similarly named retail outlet, the project was renamed The Streets of Buckhead by developer Ben Carter shortly before construction began in 2007. In 2009, the project stalled, leaving a massive construction hole for over a year. Carter was forced out by investors in 2010. In 2011, developer OliverMcMillan took over the project and renamed it again to the widely mocked “Buckhead Atlanta.” The first stores in the complex opened in 2014. The following year, OliverMcMillan changed the name yet again to The Shops Buckhead Atlanta, to still more ridicule. The retail mix in its roughly 60 storefronts was quickly criticized as too highend. Bronfman said Jamestown found that some retailers are doing well, but many were struggling and “close to giving up” at the time of last year’s sale. In contrast to earlier top-down, fromthe-boardroom development decisions, Jamestown last year held a town-hall meeting and conducted an online survey to get community input about the future of the complex. Bronfman said that, unlike most developers, he likes places with stringent, project-delaying zoning regulations and “supply constraints” in development. He says that ensures community input – and also lets his company charge higher rents. “You’ve got to really work with the neighborhood” in such places, he said. The local flavor was apparent in some of Bronfman’s comments. Asked by an audience member about making the complex more family-friendly, he noted that the Buckhead Baseball league plays nearby in Frankie Allen Park. “Buckhead Baseball, they need to be our target shoppers, our target demographic, on a Saturday afternoon,” he said. Ice cream, children’s clothing or “amusements and games” could be ways to attract families, he suggested. Bronfman said many current tenants of the complex have favorable and longterm leases, so change will take time. “But the bones, the genes, are so good, we are confident it will be successful… We’re going to fix it, but it is definitely going to take more time than we would like,” he said.


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Jamestown is Atlanta-based but operates nationally and in Latin America, and raises money around the world. Bronfman said the Buckhead name – boosted by such figures as Buckhead Coalition president and former mayor Sam Massell – is known globally and part of the reason Jamestown is excited about the local project. “Buckhead has the best name recognition by far worldwide,” Bronfman said. “I can go from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi to Tokyo and somebody will say to me, ‘Atlanta. Buckhead?’”

Bronfman discussed another American reputation, that of President Trump, in discussing the company’s investors, many of which early on were from Germany. “I used to say to people, I want to diversify because I always worry that dentists in Dusseldorf, the Germans, will decide that Americans have elected somebody they think is crazy as president, and maybe they won’t want to invest as much … in American real estate. And so here we are, and every time I go to Germany to raise money, I get questions about our president,” said Bronfman. Asked by an audience member what the most common question about Trump is, Bronfman said to laughter, “They just can’t believe it. They really–you know, he’s not very popular in Europe, whether you like him or not. And so I constantly worry whether the spigot will be turned off, and people think he’s crazy over there. But you know, the good news is, we’re still raising plenty of money in Europe.” Last year, Jamestown launched a new way of diversifying some of that investing with a digital platform. It lets anyone in the U.S. invest in the company’s porfolio for a minimum of $2,500. “We see this growing democratization of investing,” Bronfman said of the innovation.

Business awards

The BBA presented its annual business awards at the luncheon, which were given to honorees by new president Matt Thiry. The winners included: Buckhead Business of the Year Award: Buckhead Cosmetic & Family Dentistry. (Finalists included BURN Studios, Dance With Me Studios, Flower Child and Little Alley Steak.) Buckhead Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Ashley Wallace of House of Wallace. Sam Massell Bullish on Buckhead Award: Marvin Cosgray, CenterState Bank. Buckhead Beautification Award: Bobby Jones Golf Course and Bitsy Grant Tennis Center. In addition, the environmental sustainability nonprofit Livable Buckhead gave its business awards at the ceremony. Gables Residential won the “Triple Bottom Line” award for green efforts and Homrich Berg won the “Buckhead Mobility Champion” award for employee commuting options. The BBA presented a $1,000 check — proceeds from its Taste of Buckhead event — to the Nicholas House, a shelter and support program for people who are homeless. The Buckhead Reporter is a sponsor of the luncheon. Amy Arno, the Reporter’s director of sales development, presented the Business of the Year Award.


MARCH 2020


Committed to Fulton I am running to be a Fulton County Superior Court Judge because I believe Fulton County residents deserve to have fair, efficient, effective and excellent judges, who have a deep commitment to serving this County and its residents. My husband and I decided to make Fulton County our home fourteen years ago, and I am committed to making my community proud. I have dedicated my legal career to the service of Fulton County residents and organizations. I have served as legal counsel to several of Fulton County’s bedrock institutions, including Grady Memorial Hospital, MARTA and the Atlanta Housing Authority. In 2017, I was honored to be appointed as the 1st Chief Judge of the City of South Fulton’s Municipal Court, and efficiently and effectively built the judicial system for the third largest city in Fulton County in record-time, 40 days! While there, I developed effective programs, such as the “Be What You Can See” youth shadowing/ mentorship program, which allowed middle and high school students an opportunity to shadow Court officers during Court sessions in order to expose them to careers in the justice system. Currently, I serve as a Pro Tem Judge in Union City’s Municipal Court. My commitment to Fulton County and its judicial system is unwavering, and if elected, I will work every day to make you proud. I humbly ask for your support in my endeavor to become the next Fulton County Superior Court Judge. Early voting begins April 27, 2020, and the election is May 19, 2020.


South Carolina State University, B.A. Political Science, summa cum laude, 2003 University of Georgia School of Law, J.D. cum laude, 2006

Judicial Appointments

Chief Judge, South Fulton Municipal Court (20172019) Pro Tem Municipal Court Judge- Union City, Forest Park and Riverdale (2019-present)


POLITICO’s 2018 Woman of Impact 2018-2019 Law and Justice Woman of the Year, Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Attorneys 2018 Atlanta Women of Distinction Finalist

Professional Memberships

District Five Representative, Council of Municipal Court Judges Executive Committee Member, Atlanta Bar Association Judicial Section Member, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys Member, Gate City Bar Association Member, Elizabeth Baptist Church Member, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


Honorable Debra Bazemore GA House of Representatives District 63

Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr., Senior Pastor Elizabeth Baptist Church

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4 | Community ■

Norwood expresses interest in leading Buckhead Coalition BY JOHN RUCH

“I feel like I should keep out of it,” Massell said of the selection, though he joked about his son Steve, a real estate broker, taking over. “He’s going to make more money in real A little over a year into her leadership of the Buckhead estate,” Massell said. Council of Neighborhoods, Mary Norwood is expressing inNorwood attended the luncheon, chatting with elected terest in taking the helm at another influential civic organiofficials. “Mayor Massell is irreplaceable,” she said. “Nobody zation, the Buckhead Coalition. will ever understand it better than he has because of his lon“I would be honored to be considered,” said Norwood of gevity and all of the different things that he’s done.” the position that former Mayor Sam Massell is leaving afBut she would like to replace him nonetheless. She noted ter 32 years. she is a 40-year Buckhead resident who has served on NeighFor Norwood, a former City Council member and unborhood Planning Units A and B and held membership in successful 2017 mayoral candidate, it could be another step the BBA since the 1990s. in a political comeback. Those attempts began in late 2018 “I know my background is 40 years of living in Buckhead, with an unsuccessful nomination to chair the Fulton County always working in Buckhead,” she said. “I’ve got years of exBoard of Registration & Elections, then a successful election perience in working with our governmental entities. I have as chair of the BCN, a coalition of civic associations. been both a business owner and a resident of Buckhead. At a Feb. 13 Buckhead Business Association breakfast, And I have been a member of organizations in Buckhead for Norwood recapped her year of advocacy with the BCN, notyears… So that’s a skill set.” JOHN RUCH ing she had restructured it with issue-oriented subcommitIf she did gain the Coalition leadership position, would Mary Norwood, chair of the Buckhead Council of tees that function like a mayoral cabinet. Among the topics Neighborhoods, speaks at a Feb. 13 Buckhead Business she also retain her role as BCN chair? “I have no idea. I think she sought the BBA’s assistance on was her call to keep the that would be something that both organizations would Association breakfast at Maggiano’s Little Italy. city jail open – a direct challenge to a major policy agenda have to decide,” she said. item of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Similar remarks from Likewise, she said it would up to the Coalition whether Norwood last year drew a scathing rebuke from Bottoms’ press secretary as “all about she might take it in a different direction as she has done with the BCN, where part of locking THEM up” and “beneath this city.” the mandate was taking more advocacy positions on city policy. “Buckhead needs to continue to be the premiere place that one will want to live, Recapping some of that work at the BBA, she asked the organization for its support work, play, raise a family and generally get into mischief,” Norwood told the BBA about on such issues as stumping for more express transit buses in Buckhead. There was no her work with the BCN. immediate word on whether the organization would offer such support. The Coalition is a different animal, an elite, invitation-only group of business and Crime, especially burglaries and robberies, remain a concern in the neighborhood. civic leaders who each pay $9,000 a year in dues. Under Massell, its founding president, Norwood repeated her challenge to Bottoms’ closure of the Atlanta Detention Center, the group has a neighborhood boosterism mission and is perhaps best known for an ansaying it should be used by Fulton County to “get repeat offenders off the street.” Botnual luncheon with a prominent, news-making speaker. toms proposes making the former jail a social-service “Center for Equity” in a plan drivAt this year’s luncheon in January, Massell surprised the crowd by announcing his er by formerly incarcerated women. retirement at age 92, with no specific end date. He later said a “succession committee” of Coalition board members has formed and is working on replacing him.


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6 | Commentary ■

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at

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The Sisters of Mercy, founded in Ireland in 1831, were often called “walking nuns.” Instead of staying cloistered, they walked the streets, caring for the poor. Today they “walk” the world, including Atlanta, where in 1890 four Sisters of Mercy founded Atlanta’s first hospital, known for years as St. Joseph’s Hospital, currently Emory St. Joseph’s. Though the hospital is now secular, the Sisters of Mercy have long held leadership roles. One of them is Sister Jane Gerety, Ph.D., who was senior vice president at St. Joseph’s for 17 years (19922009) before leaving to serve as president of Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. Last year, she retired from academia and anSPECIAL swered the call to return to Atlanta as chief mission officer of Mercy Care Atlanta, a network of Top, Mercy Care Chamblee, a comprehensive healthcare community healthcare centers offering compreclinic, was paid for entirely hensive care for the poor. by grants and donations. “I didn’t want to retire-retire,” she said. “AtlanAbove, Sister Jane Gerety, ta had been home for me, and I had friends here. chief mission officer of Mercy Care Atlanta. It seemed natural to come back.” It was also natural for her to join Mercy Care, as it had been part of St Joseph’s Hospital during her tenure there. Incorporated as a nonprofit in 1985, Mercy Care was an outreach of St. Joseph’s that sent teams with tackle boxes of medical supplies into the streets to treat the homeless. Since 2012, when St. Joseph’s joined Emory Healthcare, Mercy Care has paid its own way with funding from Emory Healthcare; public and corporate grants; private donations; and patients, who pay on a sliding scale based on their income. Despite having to regroup and build its own internal systems from scratch, Mercy Care has grown into 10 primary care locations throughout metro Atlanta, including six freestanding locations, four mobile clinics and multiple Street Care teams. It offers services for both children and adults, including primary, specialty, mental, vision and dental care, along with financial counseling, pastoral and recuperative care and much more. Like God’s mercy, Mercy Care is for everyone. In 2018, 75% of its patients were uninsured and living below the Federal poverty line; 60% were homeless. Medicare, Medic-

MARCH 2020

Commentary | 7

aid and most insurance plans are accepted. Mercy Care Chamblee, which opened in 2017, is an amazing 45,000-squarefoot, state-of-the-art facility at 5134 Peachtree Road that I was privileged to tour recently. Notable in the lobby is a large plaque listing the donors who made it all possible. Many of the names are familiar to us all. Everything at this location is exemplary, from the abundant natural light to the colorful furniture and walls, spotless floors and cheerful, welcoming staff. Many fancy Atlanta clinics could take lessons! As chief mission officer, Sister Jane is responsible for keeping everyone on mission -- which is compassion, commitment to the poor, excellence, integrity, justice, stewardship and reverence for the dignity of each person. “I’m involved with employees as they’re carrying out the mission,” she said. “I give them structures for seeing their work as sacred. It’s God’s work, whatever their religion.” One of her “structures” is the daily reflection she sends to everyone. She’s also learning how to address the “compassion fatigue” that affects people “surrounded by so much challenge and sorrow.” “I’ve never seen so much joy at serving as I’ve seen at Mercy Care,” she said. “Part of my role is to listen and help them find balance and boundaries without giving up their heart.” And then, there are the patients. “I’ve never been so close to people who have so little,” she said. “I want to listen, learn and be close to them.” With only four Sisters of Mercy in Atlanta and the numbers of religious dwindling everywhere, she feels her ultimate goal is “keeping the flame lit” among the lay people. Unlike the nuns many of us remember from childhood, Sister Jane wears normal street clothes. Though she wore a traditional habit for eight years after joining the Sisters at age 17, she no longer owns one. “The old habit was off-putting,” she said. “Dressing as lay women makes us more accessible.” Like lay women, she lives in her own apartment in Brookhaven, very near the three other Sisters of Mercy, one of whom lives in an apartment across the street and the other two in the convent behind St. Joseph’s Hospital. They “live in community” by meeting several times a week for dinner and caring for one another.. “We’re a virtual community,” Sister Jane said. Mercy Care accepts both financial and in-kind donations. For information, go to

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8 | Community ■

Residents concerned with Verizon 5G towers; cities consider filing suit BY HANNAH GRECO

Residents of a Sandy Springs neighborhood are raising concerns because Verizon has started digging up their yards to prepare for a plan to install over 1,000 new poles in the city in preparation for 5G, the newest generation of wireless technology for cellular networks. But city officials say they cannot interfere because of a new law that passed last year restricting local control on cell towers. In response to the new law, some cities are deciding to join a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. One resident of Derby Hills, a neighborhood near Peachtree Dunwoody and Windsor Parkway in Sandy Springs, said he does not think Verizon communicated with anyone in the neighborhood before beginning the process of digging up yards for pole placement. “I can clearly tell there wasn’t any planning in this,” the resident said at a Feb. 4 council meeting. “There was no kind of conversation or correspondence with the neighborhoods.” Matt Hartley with Verizon spoke at the meeting, admitting that the company did not properly notify residents of the pole installations. “We dropped the ball on that,” Hartley said at the meeting. “We did not follow what we had discussed with the city permitting office as far as notifications for residents.” The installation of poles will continue, Hartley said, but Verizon is trying to avoid placing poles in front of houses and front doors at all costs. According to Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert, there are over 1,000 applications for such poles in Sandy Springs. Mayor Rusty Paul is unhappy with the legislation and is concerned with the amount of power it gives telecom companies. Paul said at a Feb. 4 meeting that the city fought against the bill last year, but the major telecom companies went to the legislature to be able to avoid local concern. “They went to the legislature and then they went to the Federal Telecommunications Commission to be able to bypass local governments because they see us as a problem,”

Paul said at the meeting. Sandy Springs is now considering joining the coalition of cities suing the FCC and will discuss the idea further at an upcoming council meeting. Brookhaven joined the lawsuit last year, which cost the city a $5,000 flat fee. “The primary reason we joined is because we had a number of complaints from citizens about small cells in front of their homes and messing up their viewshed,” said Brookhaven City Attorney Chris Balch in a recent interview. In 2018, the FCC issued an order for a “one-size-fits-all” solution to small cell deployment and curtailed what the city could do in its own right of way, he said. “When we joined the FCC fight, we said our citizens want to protect what their streets and sidewalks look like,” Balch said. “The FCC says we don’t have that power anymore.” Crown Castle is the country’s largest provider of wireless technology and owns many of the cell towers and fiber infrastructure used by companies like Verizon. Kimberly Adams, the company’s government relations manager for the area, said last year the state bill keeps wireless providers from having to meet different regulations in different cities and simplifies the process of getting high-speed internet access across the state. In March 2019, the Sandy Springs City Council passed a law that required companies to install new antennas on existing poles if possible and that set fees in preparation for the new legislation. The application fee for collocation is $100. Replacement poles will cost $500 and new poles $1,000. The fee for using the city’s right of way is set at $100 per year for collocation on an existing or replacement pole, $200 per year for new poles and $40 per year for collocation on a city pole, according to the ordinance. In December 2018, Brookhaven’s City Council approved its own small-cell legislation that determined the fair market value for use of city right of way is $1,000 for each wireless antenna, or small cell node. In 2015, the Dunwoody City Council approved a small-cell ordinance limiting the height and size of nodes. — Dyana Bagby contributed

MARCH 2020

Community | 9

Local boards oppose reform ideas for the NPU system BY JOHN RUCH

Term limits and mandatory training for Neighborhood Planning Unit board members are among NPU system reforms proposed in legislation under consideration in a City Council committee. The ideas are not getting a warm welcome from Buckhead’s NPUs A and B. “While I know that there are some NPUs that have a troubled history and the changes probably are designed to address some of their issues, they would be a major setback for the effectiveness of NPU-A,” said Brink Dickerson, the NPU-A chair, in a private email he shared with the Reporter. “Overall, the ordinance appears to be a general solution to particular problems,” said NPU-B’s board in written comments provided by chair Nancy Bliwise. “We believe it is best to address the problems of specific NPUs through targeted solutions rather than a general rewrite of the code.” “We get the argument all the time that [says], ‘Our NPU does it right,’” said District 3 City Councilmember Antonio Brown, who is a sponsor of the legislation. But not all do it right, he said, and “across the board, there are bad players.” The legislation, which is on hold pending more feedback from NPUs and the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, is part of quiet movement to reform and invigorate the 45-yearold system. The Center for Civic Innovation, a downtown nonprofit, is researching the system for possible reforms and aims to launch a public survey in late spring or early summer. Last year, in a technical but significant change, the city directed NPU staff members to report directly to the City Planning commissioner’s office in an attempt to improve communications and public participation. The NPU system was established in 1974 by Mayor Maynard Jackson as a way for residents to give input on the city’s long-term development plan, in an era when many American cities created similar neighborhood groups. Today, there are 25 NPUs around the city, each named for a letter of the alphabet, serving a broader purpose of giving and getting information on virtually every city department. Brown said he is concerned that there is “huge disenfranchisement that happens within the NPUs” due to differing methods of operating them. Among the changes proposed in his legislation are the following: ■ Each sub-neighborhood could be in only a single NPU. (Four cover parts of Buckhead today, including A, B, C and E, and some of its neighborhoods cross current NPU boundaries.)


■ Bylaws must follow a city-provided template. ■ NPU officer elections to be administered by the City Clerk and the city can review results at someone’s complaint. ■ NPU boards will be “uniform,” with a chair, vice-chair, secretary, parliamentarian and one member designed from each registered neighborhood association that holds monthly public meetings. ■ NPU board members can serve no more than two consecutive terms in the same position and no more than three consecutive terms in any position. ■ Each household can have only one representative on the board. ■ Board members must have annual training on conflict resolution and parliamentary procedures, and can be removed from office by City Planning officials if they don’t. ■ A city NPU coordinator will attend all monthly meetings. ■ NPUs are prohibited from establishing accounts at financial institutions. “We’re still going through the details. Nothing is set in stone right now,” Brown said. Other common issues with local NPUs, such as unannounced agenda changes and difficulty in hearing board members’ discussions, are not touched by the legislation. Brown said his intent is not to tell people how to run meetings. “It’s really important that NPUs are autonomous, that they have the autonomy they seek,” he said. City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit of Buckhead’s District 8 is wary of the proposal. “Our NPUs are in different places in terms of how they function,” he said. The city should provide training and guidance when needed, he said. “But I don’t want the NPUs that are functioning well, [for them to be in a situation where] the law of unintended consequences to come into place.” Dickerson has concerns on how it would change NPU-A, which has several vice-chairs and allows two members from the large Chastain Park Civic Association. “I have a hard time getting members to show up at meetings, and cannot imagine that I am going to get all of them to go downtown on a Saturday to get training. Moreover, we do a good job and do not need training,” he said in the email. As for term limits, he said, “it takes the typical member a couple of years just to understand the zoning ordinance.” He said that NPU-A has had about five chairs in its history and “it has worked just fine.” NPU-B voted in opposition to virtually every major point in the legislation, saying it would make unnecessary changes and created burdens. “Why fix what is not broken?” its comments asked.

10 | Commentary

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Commentary: Local mayors and a resident react to I-285 toll lanes concept The Georgia Department of Transportation recently released more detailed concepts for its proposed I-285 top-end toll lanes project, so potential effects on local communities are easier to see. The designs show that more than 150 properties in Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody and other nearby cities could be affected or demolished by the project. GDOT also proposes adding access points that would allow drivers to enter the new lanes from city streets. Among those following the project closely are Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch, Doraville Mayor Joseph Geierman and Dunwoody resident Robert Wolford. The Reporter asked them what they thought of the latest proposals. Now that the proposal is a step closer to reality, what do you think of it? Deutsch: Having watched the visualization of the managed lanes, I am amazed by the scale and scope of this project. It will forevDunwoody Mayor er change the landLynn Deutsch scape of metro Atlanta. I still remain unconvinced that this project will impact traffic in a meaningful way. Geierman: My thoughts about this project have not changed. Research has proven that adding more lanes to freeways does not solve traffic congestion. I think the taxpayer dollars being earmarked for this project would be more effective if they were spent building out other forms of mobility – including mass transit and bike/ pedestrian paths. That said, this project is going to move forward no matter what I personally think about it. My responsibility is to ensure that whatever gets built has a minimal negative impact on (and hopefully benefits) the city of Doraville. Wolford: I think that the “Advanced Improvement Project” proposal [to build some related non-toll lanes and ramps sooner] is very reasonable. However, I think that the toll lanes project is a colossal waste of time and money. Most people probably don’t realize, yet that the GDOT proposal is actually two different proposals for the I-285 corridor. The first, called the AIP, consists of collector-distributor lanes and rebuilding the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road bridge. It is all grade-level construction and it will serve Georgia well as a positive improvement on the top end Perimeter highway. The second, called toll lane expansion, involves elevated toll lanes that are above grade, take land unnecessarily, cost too much and won’t solve traffic problems long term. Is there anything that you see in this version of the plan that surprised you? If so, what was it? Geierman: I had been concerned that the toll lanes would require even more right of way acquisition along I-285 than they did and was a little surprised that relatively few businesses along the corridor were affected. I was disappointed to see businesses that I personally patronize -- like Tucker Castleberry Printers and Rob Mello Acting Studio – in the path of destruction.

Wolford: What surprises me about these proposals is not what is in them, but rather what is not in them. These proposals do not include any studies. There are no sound barrier mitigation proposals. There are no greenway or multi-model pathway proposals. There are no environmental studies, including any air and water quality impacts, storm water run-off impacts, noise impacts. There are no open and honest communications occurring between GDOT officials and citizens in communities affected and impacted by GDOT proposals. Deutsch: The city of Dunwoody is losing an entire neighborhood. We have been aware of this for a while, but we learned at the recent meetings that an office building and three buildings at an apartment complex will be destroyed to make space for the project. There are additional impacts not yet clearly defined on other properties as well. How can GDOT best mitigate any damage the lanes will cause local communities? What do you think they can do? Wolford: GDOT must, at a minimum, build sound barrier protection walls prior to any construction and maintain those barRobert Wolford rier walls during all construction. GDOT must also include greenways and pedestrian pathways between their expansion projects and impacted communities, as well as including greenways and pathways on the reconstructed Chamblee-Dunwoody bridge. And GDOT should pay for the greenways and pedestrian pathways in the impacted communities. Deutsch: Noise walls must go up before construction begins, even if they are relocated during the process. For Dunwoody, we need the space and infrastructure to install a multi-purpose trail along I-285. When the Chamblee-Dunwoody bridge is rebuilt, there must be room for a multipurpose trail as well as landscaping. Geierman: I would like to see GDOT give more serious consideration to how huge infrastructure projects like the top-end toll lanes negatively impact communities. I hope that as part of this project, the state helps local governments overcome this by building in bike and pedestrian access in the affected footprint and ensuring that

these new lanes do not cause more traffic problems than they were designed to solve. Once the work is done, will the project make driving in local communities better or worse? Do you think the long-term changes it will bring will be good or bad for local communities? Deutsch: The collector-distributor lane between Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Ashford-Dunwoody Road should make commuting to the Perimeter area easier for Dunwoody residents. Along with other improvements the city of Dunwoody is already planning to make, this collector lane should help the flow of traffic on ChambleeDunwoody Road in the Georgetown area and beyond. Dunwoody is already well situated for commuters who travel by car and those who use transit. The addition of rapid bus transit as an east-west transportation option will provide some new options for our residents. This project, though, isn’t being built for metro residents who already live close-in. Rather, it is designed to benefit those who live further away from the job centers. Geierman: I do not think that the toll lanes on their own will do anything to solve Atlanta’s traffic problems -- the Doraville Mayor only thing that will Joseph Geierman do that is getting people out of their cars and to use other forms of transportation. I do think there’s an opportunity to utilize the toll lanes for bus rapid transit, which would provide some benefit to reducing traffic. This is not currently part of the plan, but I am hoping it makes it into the final draft. Wolford: The Advanced Improvement Project C-D lanes will make driving better, but the toll lanes will not make driving any better long-term. The only changes that can have any long-term significant improvements to the top end Perimeter traffic challenges must include rapid transit options. Bus rapid transit and light to medium rail are the only hope for long-term good for our communities. That is why Senate Resolution 654, the resolution authored by state Sen. Sally Harrell [calling for a state Constitutional amendment to allow gas tax money to be spent on transit], is so important. SR654 will allow GDOT to fund the transit projects necessary for Georgians to live, thrive and survive. BH

MARCH 2020

Commentary | 11

Burning through the tea kettle curse Everyone has flaws and endearing peccadillos; mine is that I have an inexplicable tendency to burn water. It started with a Michael Graves tea kettle that was a gift from my uncle and looked like a piece of artwork, it was so brilliantly designed. It had a whistle shaped like a little red bird, so it was a perfect “Robin” kettle. It came to me when the kids were toddlers, and it met its demise one busy morning when it sat on the


stove with its little Robin-bird whistling her heart out as I

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ignored it while tending to a screaming child until the water burned out completely and the cute little whistle-bird melted into the pot itself. I was crushed because I loved that tea pot and doubly crushed when I went to replace it and discovered its cost. I received a replacement Michael Graves kettle for Mother’s Day, and I got to enjoy it for only two months before I burned that one. As a punishment to myself, I did not replace it but boiled my tea and French-press coffee water in

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a basic pot on the stove instead. However, since a plain old pot does not come equipped with a whistle, it’s even eas-



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ier to burn than a tea kettle. I burned four perfectly good 1.2-quart pots until I decided it was time to go back to kettles. By then I had saved up enough money to buy another Michael Graves kettle that I so loved, and I gave it to myself for Christmas, with the silent pledge that if this one burned,

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You guessed it. This one burned, too. But it wasn’t by me this time! It burned on a babysitter’s watch. I put it on the cabinet-top ledge where it stood as decoration with its fallen brothers. And I decided it was time to go the route of electric tea kettles. I was well-chuffed with a glass version that boiled water efficiently and expertly, until after a year, it suddenly stopped. I replaced it, and its replacement broke. I replaced it once more and, true to my rule of three, gave up the electric tea kettles when the third

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one broke. By this point, it had been about a decade since my burning-curse began, and I’d lost at least 10 pans and teapots along the way. The electric-kettle interlude lasted long enough for me to rekindle my hankering for old-fashioned kettles, and as karma would have it, I found the most perfect one on sale at HomeGoods. It was a nice solid shape, with strong shoulders and a hefty base, plus it was robin’s egg blue, so it became my new perfect-for-Robin tea kettle. It was a color so unique and so wonderful that the ladies in the checkout line with me gushed over it, while I stood in smug satisfaction because I had snagged it for myself. Every day when I walked into my kitchen and saw it perched there in its spot smack-

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dab in the middle of the stove top, complimenting my kitchen décor with ease, I felt a light lift of spirit.

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I had a new favorite, and I didn’t even think it was possible. How long did it take me to burn this one? Exactly eight months. This time, I truly mourned because I had completely fallen for it. I disciplined myself with plain old pots again and went online searching for a replacement, with the sinking feeling that its charming color had been discontinued. And I decided that I’d start scouting HomeGoods again, just in case. I found a stainless-steel kettle that looked dashing on the HG shelf, and I bought it,

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but I never could bring myself to use it because it was so lackluster in my own home. When I returned it, I scoured the store once more, and lo and behold, I spotted my very same blue kettle, high on a shelf and on clearance because its lid was lost. Eureka! Fortunately, even though my first blue kettle was useless, I had not moved it because I that perfectly fit this new topless kettle. And maybe, just maybe, this one will last. BH

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couldn’t bear to walk into a kitchen bereft of its cheery blue self, and thus I had a lid Sometimes, things work out.

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12 | Commentary ■

Around Town

Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@

The pirates who bring Mardi Gras to Buckhead

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Things started with David Moffett. He wanted a way to get to know his neighbors in the Club Forest subdivision better. Club Forest had several community clubs and social events through which women could meet, he said, but nothing similar for the men. “The women all knew each other, but none of the guys knew each other,” he said. JOE EARLE Moffett grew up in Lake From left, Krewe du Foret members Ryan Schultz, Charles, Louisiana. and Jamie Walker, Kurtis Fahn and Craig Hyde show went to Tulane, so he had their inner pirates in their Buckhead neighborhood’s a fondness for Mardi Gras, annual Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 23. the traditional no-holdsbarred party on the final day or days before Lent, a season of fasting for Christians. He thought Club Valley Drive, the main drag through his neighborhood in the Historic Brookhaven area of Buckhead, looked like a good place for a Mardi Gras parade. Why Mardi Gras? “Why not?” he replied. Mardi Gras parties and parades usually are staged by groups called krewes. Moffett and neighbor John Greiner launched the Krewe du Foret to bring Mardi Gras home. Greiner, it turned out, had a pirate costume, so the new krewe adopted a pirate theme and started putting together a parade. That was eight years, and eight parades, ago. Krewe du Foret now claims 50 or more members, all men, and puts on two to three social events a year, its members said. And it’s brought together men of Club Forest around a common interest. “I wouldn’t know any of these guys if we didn’t do something like this,” said Moffett, a 55-year-old banker who wore a Tulane cap and New Orleans Saints’ jersey with his pirate suit.. “It’s a great way to get our neighborhood together.” On the last Sunday in February, about 25 to 30 members of the krewe, maybe more, donned pirate costumes and joined in the Mardi Gras parade on Club Valley Drive. Some had grown beards just for the event and some wore elaborate costumes with thigh-high boots or fancy jackets and hats. “It’s a good experience to dress up like a pirate,” Mark Hanna, 46, a physician had said the day before when he joined a dozen or so members of the krewe to rebuild the floats that are stored at Moffett’s house during the winter. Most of the pirates in the parade rode on one of three colorful, pirate flag-decked floats built on top of trailers and pulled by pickups. Some rode atop an antique fire truck, while others walked alongside the string of vehicles, which included a convertible carrying the krewe’s queen for the day, resident Judy Jones. A New Orleans-style band called 2nd Line Atlanta played from one of the floats. Families lined the street and caught beads the pirates tossed from the floats as they rolled along. Marc Rosenkoetter stood out among the parading pirates. He walked on stilts and towered above the crowd in his pirate getup as he tossed Mardi Gras beads to clamoring kids. “It’s for the kids,” the 40-year-old management consultant said of the party as he helped decorate floats the day before the parade. “Honestly, it is.” Besides, he said, it helps give Club Forest an identity. “It really pulls the neighborhood together,” he said. “It sets the neighborhood apart. In a world of fences and walls and security cameras, its nice to have a neighborhood that can come together for something like this.” Lori Hicks waited in her driveway to see her husband parade past. She was joined by her mother-in-law, Charlotte Hicks of St. Marys, and sister-in-law, Shannon Hicks of Chattanooga. “It’s my favorite day of the year in Club Forest,” she said. “I think it’s incredible that they pull this off and pull it together for everybody on the cul-de-sac.” Why is it her favorite day? She thought the question over for a moment. “Maybe it’s my favorite day because the men are in charge and the families have so much fun,” she said. “That’s why. I just figured it out.” It took just 10 to 15 minutes for the revelers to pass. The parade ended at a cul-de-sac at one end of the block, where the pirates and their families and friends could dance and eat gumbo at a neighborhood party. Bill Selvey, who’s 58 and said he works as a head-hunter for doctors, has lived in his home in Club Forest for 26 years and has taken part in every Mardi Gras parade. He, too, calls Maris Gras parade day his favorite day of the year. “You dress up like a pirate and throw Moon Pies and beads to people,” he said. “Free beer. Free gumbo. What’s not to like?” BH

MARCH 2020

Food & Drink | 13

Horseradish Grill restaurant to rebrand, renovate under new owner BY HANNAH GRECO

A longtime restaurant next to Chastain Park announced it was closing its doors in February. The space will reopen in the summer under new ownership with the name The Chastain. Horseradish Grill has operated for over 25 years at 4320 Powers Ferry Road. It will reopen as an American restaurant this summer under the co-ownership of Geno Dew and Christopher Grossman, according to a press release. Dew and Grossman both formerly worked at Atlas, a restaurant in the St. Regis hotel in Buckhead, the release said. “Our team is building this restaurant for the neighborhood, and we look forward to preserving its warmth and character while offering an exceptional new culinary experience,” Dew said in the press release. Architect firm Siegel Construction and Design is designing the project, which plans to make the 2,500-squarefoot main floor space for a dining room and the lower level to be used for special events. The restaurant will also have a patio and a garden, the release said. The property has a lot of history tied to it. Before Horseradish, the space held a country store, which closed in the 1930s, according to the restaurant’s website. In the 1940s, the website said, the store reopened under new ownership and eventually a dining area was added. It then became a full-fledged restaurant under the name the Red Barn Inn. Steve Alterman bought the eatery in 1995 and named it Horseradish Grill. Alterman did not respond to a request for comment.



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A rendering of The Chastain, a restaurant to replace the Horseradish Grill at 4320 Powers Ferry Road.

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14 | Community ■

In tax-break debates, turf wars arise between local and county authorities BY JOHN RUCH AND DYANA BAGBY

mated value of the tax abatements it provides. For years its agendas did not Tax breaks granted to developers even list the location of many projects. by bodies called development authoriDecide DeKalb cut one tax-abatement ties are under growing scrutiny in metdeal in a local city last year that it refusro Atlanta’s hot real estate market. But es to divulge. “We do work for the pubbehind the issue of when to grant tax lic but some companies don’t want to be breaks is another question: Who should named until they announce,” said Degrant them in local cities – local authorBarr. ities or their county versions? And what Both county authorities say they happens when one says no to a developmake deals that “create” -- often meaner and the other says yes? ing relocate -- jobs, and in DAFC’s case, The Development Authority of Fulsome affordable housing units. But they ton County is facing a call from Atlanlack mechanisms to confirm that those ta’s authority to stay out of its turf and goals are met and there appear to be no state legislation that would bar the way for the authorities to get full taxes DAFC from operating within cities withpaid if the developers don’t hold up their out local government approval. The deend of the bargain. velopment authoriIn contrast, city dety in DeKalb County, velopment authoriknown as Decide ties in Brookhaven and DeKalb, has better reSandy Springs have lationships with locreated “payment in cal cities now, but four lieu of taxes” agreeyears ago stirred conments that get some of troversy with the city the abated money back of Brookhaven for lack for city purposes, such of notice on major tax as building new streets abatements that hit its or acquiring land for budget unexpectedly. city facilities. “It is not in the inCitizens may not terest of a city’s resibe aware of the tax dents to allow develbreaks, or have difficulopers to play a county ty in discovering why development authoria particular authority ty off against that city’s granted them. Sandy SPECIAL development authoriSprings in recent years State Rep. Derrick Jackson. ty for tax breaks. That promoted the developis what happens now,” ment of a new downsaid Julian Bene, a critic of tax breaks town area with luxury apartment comand a former board member of Invest plexes that have been both lauded as Atlanta, that city’s development authormodern and criticized as traffic-generaity. “A city development authority tends tors. Of five new apartment complexes, to be more accountable and responsive four have received tax abatements – two to the needs of its residents and protecfrom the city and two from the county. tive of their tax burden.” Leaders of the county authorities disTax break powers agree. Development authorities are govern“Overall, DAFC serves an extremement-created, but independently operly important purpose in Fulton Counating and self-funding, bodies that can ty, as its focus is on economic developoffer incentives and property tax abatement that benefits Fulton County as a ments in a variety of ways. Fulton and whole and the needs of all of its resiDeKalb counties have development audents and not just those in one particuthorities, as do many local cities, includlar municipality in isolation,” said DAFC ing Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody Executive Director Al Nash in an email. and Brookhaven. A powerful deal-mak“We always look forward to solidifying ing ability authorities wield is to issue and strengthening our partnership with bonds on behalf of a developer, using the municipalities to ensure economic its tax-exempt status to grant a partial development continues within Fulton property tax abatement for a period of County.” time, usually 10 years. The general ra“We are extremely intentional to cotionale is to promote economic developordinate with cities,” said Dorian Dement. Barr, the interim president of Decide The DAFC has been targeted with DeKalb. “[We] don’t want developers to criticism for years for granting abategame the system.” ment deals on luxury projects in such But the details of county authorihot markets as Buckhead and Midtown, ty tax breaks can be opaque. Only last where there appears to be little need to year, after decades in operation, did the spur economic activity. Atlanta Public DAFC start publicly releasing the estiSchools Superintendent Meria Carstar-

phen, herself a former DAFC board member, is a fierce critic of such deals, with the controversy ballooning to major proportions again over the past two years. Carstarphen has said various tax breaks cost her system tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. In fiscal year 2019, the Fulton County School System lost $6.2 million in “potential revenue” from various abatements and incentives, and $4.8 million in fiscal 2018, according to Chief Financial Officer Marvin Dereef. In 2019, the DeKalb County School District lost $3.9 million to tax abatements, according to interim Chief Financial Officer Robert Morales. The county authorities say that the developments they assist boost the tax base enormously. Critics argue that many of the developments would have happened anyway, so the abatements are giveaways of money. Brookhaven and Dunwoody have good relationship and communications with Decide DeKalb, according to city spokespersons. And in Sandy Springs, Mayor Rusty Paul, a professional marketer and lobbyist, has had the DAFC as a client for about 15 years. He said that when the DAFC contacts city government, it does so through the city manager in a process that does not involve the mayor.

Turf wars

Relationships are more strained in the Atlanta area, where the DAFC cuts far more local tax abatement deals than Decide DeKalb does. Last year, Invest Atlanta’s president and CEO, Dr. Eloisa Klementich, sent Nash a letter asking DAFC to stop cutting bond-based tax abatement deals within the city limits. She questioned the legality of such deals; said her board is more representative of local taxing jurisdictions; and noted a divergence in the two authorities’ policies on affordable housing. She also raised the issue of “perspective” from the local point of view. “We think it is essential to be at the table for the conversation and the future development in the city,” she wrote. The recently incorporated city of South Fulton was the scene of another tax abatement dispute last year. Major controversy erupted over whether the local government’s authority or the DAFC should grant a tax break for a major commercial project. Controversy within the city government dragged on for weeks, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, at one point threatening to remove South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards and a City Council member from office. As a result, a state legislator has filed a bill that would bar the DAFC from granting such breaks within cities with-

out the approval of local governments and school boards. State Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-Tyrone) said he filed House Bill 986 to promote conversations between the DAFC and local leaders. “You would think that would happen naturally, but unfortunately it did not,” he said. “… The whole goal is to make sure development authorities touch base with local municipalities.” Paul, the DAFC lobbyist, said before the bill’s filing that he was aware of its general approach. He called it “more punitive than policy-setting. It singles out DAFC and leaves the other development authorities operating in the county out of the proposed regulation.” Paul said he understands the intent was to “start a conversation about the relationships among the cities and the two school boards [in Fulton and Atlanta]. That discussion is healthy and I look forward to it.” One provision of Jackson’s legislation would bar an elected official from chairing a development authority, to avoid what he called “tension and confusion” about political roles. But local input is his main goal, he said. The bill would bar the DAFC from acquiring property, granting any tax abatements or “undertak[ing] any project” within cities without the “approval” of the local board of education and the city government. “Although it’s great the county can come in… the county may not be familiar with their comprehensive plan, the land use, just the whole arch of having a particular vision for that city,” Jackson said. Nash said that DAFC’s perspective has its own advantages. “The need to have a development authority that crosses city lines and takes into consideration Fulton County as a whole cannot be overstated,” he said. “People oftentimes reside in one part of Fulton County and work in another part. In addition, proposed projects may be located in multiple cities [or] jurisdictions, which is something DAFC is well-equipped to handle and has done so in the past.” Jackson noted that abatements can affect local governments and school system revenues, where people have elected representatives to oversee the operations. “Keep responsibility and accountability where they belong,” he said.

LOCAL PROJECTS WITH TAX ABATEMENTS A full list of over 30 projects can be found online at BH

MARCH 2020

Community | 15

Livable Buckhead plans green and grounded new home BY JOHN RUCH

Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit based in the Tower Place skyscraper, spends a lot of time trying to convince local corporations to work greener. Now it aims to practice what it preaches in a new ground-level office space that may open late in the summer. “It’s shifting us to a whole different kind of way of operating… We’re not in the ivory tower anymore,” said Denise Starling, the executive director of Livable Buckhead since its 2011 founding. Core Properties, the Tower Place manager, plans a renovation of an unused courtyard atop the AMC Dine-In Buckhead 6 theater in the complex at Piedmont Road and Tower Place Drive. The space “has been dead for 20 years, never activated,” Starling says. The plan would build retail spaces into the courtyard, as well as a fitness center and conference room for the building. Outdoor seating covered by shade structures would encourage use and offer some type of programming. Livable Buckhead would get one of those retail spaces, with garage-style roll-up doors opening into the courtyard. The nonprofit might be able to hold some events in the courtyard as well. That’s a big change for a nonprofit that has spent its entire life on the 16th floor of the skyscraper. But it’s also a plus for a group whose mission includes environmental sustainability and alternative commuting, including spearheading the literally ground-level work of building the PATH400 multiuse trail through the neighborhood. The plan is “moving us from sort of an office-type mentality down to retail,” Starling said. Scoring a good home locally is important in another way. “It’s very difficult to be a nonprofit in Buckhead” with the high rents, she said. The nonprofit plans to make its build-out meet various private and government standards for energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, including those of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, Fitwel and Energy Star. “It’s just practicing what we preach,” Starling said. Pro bono design and permitting work helps, too. For now, permits are undergoing city review and lease negotiations continue.

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16 | Community ■

At Georgia Tech, football is an education business, athletic director says in Buckhead appearance intercollegiate athletics. In this country it’s probably the most misunderstood enterprise. Most people think we are in the entertainment business, which we are not. We are in the education business, and it just so happens that we can use the entertainment value of a couple of our sports that will pay for SPECIAL the entire enterprise.” Todd Stansbury, Georgia Tech’s director of athletics, speaks Stansbury touted at the Rotary Club of Buckhead meeting on Jan. 27. innovation programs such as a GPS unit everything.” worn by all footballers during every pracThe rigor of the institute continues to be tice and game that tracks effort, distance, an issue “but we need to embrace who we heart rate, and whether they are being are,” he said. “It’s a tough place to go to try overtrained. “It’s a lot different from when to be a student-athlete because you have we played, that’s for sure.” to do a year of calculus or whatever, but I Georgia Tech is different because it’s an don’t know anybody who goes to college engineering school, Stansbury said. “Peoand thinks it’s going to be easy.” ple want us to be MIT during the week “In fact, when you’re the only instituand Alabama during the weekends, but tion in the country in which every sport I believe that it can be done,” he said. We is above the national average in every accan compete at the highest level in everyademic category and you’re graduating 89 thing that we do. The Georgia Tech brand is percent of your student-athletes whose avabout excellence and it means we can’t just erage GPA is 3.0, to me that’s not surviving, pick our spots — we’ve got to be on top of that’s thriving.”


rsary 25th Annive

Please, Pick the Fruit P34


— NO. 7

Dunwoody Reporter

JUNE 2019

Atlant firstit trans lba’s DeKa moves UrbanerFood planFore mast st would need isahea bothd,publ ic parkt boos tax sales & community farm


PBS to air local singer’s documentary

• VOL. 11 —

NO. 6

Brookhaven Reporter

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Piano-playing Rogers family is a YouTube hit P29

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month to consider sioners is expected next plan designed to countywide transit master bus service and deimprove current rail and COMMENTAR new transit over the Y termine where to build next 30 years. commisAs part of that consideration,if they beto decide sioners will also have to vote for enough motivated are lieve voters pay for the proposed a sales tax increase to P10 include light rail, bus improvements, which rapid transit in rapid transit and arterial The proposed north and south DeKalb. full-penny DeKalb Atlanta Regional DeKalb County, the County transit worked with lomaster plan Commission and MARTA gathered public input scenario would cal municipalities and proposed transit masinclude four light over the past year on a goals: address the rapid transit routes; ter plan with three broad routes foster economfour bus rapid transit county’s mobility challenges, quality of life. end of I-285; P44 including along the top ic development and improve recently toured transit routes. These and eight arterial rapid Consultants with VHB presenta180 project miles. ’S NEST madeROBIN cover June would in and expansions DeKalb cities The dirt path conceptual transit on Buford tions on proposed and that is the Highway in Brookhaven and Dunsubject of front of the master plans to the a dispute about DYANA BAGBY Orchard at Both presentations a new sidewa Brookh woody City Councils. lk and landsca aven a 1 cent sales tax pe strip. spotlighted two scenarios: raise $3.65 billion over increase that would projects, and a half30 years and fund 16 raise $1.85 billion penny increase that would P11 15 projects. over 30 years and fund tax requires a vote. Increasing the sales tax is 8 percent. Springs, a member DeKalb’s current sales Kevin Abel of Sandy decimajor a is which n Board Going to a referendum BY DYANA BAGBY of the State Transportatio project manager, Department of Transsion, Grady Smith, VHB Check out our oversees the Georgia AND EVELYN ANDREWS council at its June 10 took those officials to told the Brookhaven at ReporterNews podcasts portation, however, Dunwoody and hearing DeKalb leadthe toll lanes Elected officials in meeting. He said he is task and said he supports out against the time to consider the and Ga. 400 because ership is wanting more Doraville are speaking ects planned on I-285 input from the cittoll lanes and have BY DYAN bus rapid transit to proposals and is seeking planned I-285 “top end” A BAGBY they promise to bring The Brook the estimated $5 dyanabagby@r signed a petition opposing See DEKALB on page 30haven Reporter the area. eporternewspape to begin construcen has some 31 billion project expected isMAY mail deliver residents See DUNWOODY on page 2019 ed • VOL. 13 —Emory NO. 5Univer living in by neighb tion in 2023. nearhomes on selecteto orhood sity’s propos through traffic s worried about a $1 billion cutcarrier routes d “health innova al to build and more in such roads over the next congestion tion distric on ZIP 30319 as Sherid t” 15 years on an, Briarcl approximatel North Druid 60 acres of iff and Executive Hills. For information: Park in Brookh y Emory officia delivery@rep avorternewspape ls say they ing to allevia are workte those ► concerns by con8 See TRAFFIC See our ad on page on .com page lauderhills 22 et

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As a 10-year-old, Todd Stansbury already had his sights set on getting a football scholarship to the Georgia Institute of Technology. Never mind that he was a hockey player in faraway Oakville, Ontario, who was only 5-foot-2 and weighed 127 pounds. “Me going to Georgia Tech on a football scholarship was pretty far-fetched and was only topped by the fact that I’m now the athletic director,” Stansbury, 59, said during a talk at a Rotary Club of Buckhead meeting held at Maggiano’s Little Italy on Jan. 27. Having switched to football when he got to high school, he enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1980, starting as a linebacker and graduating in 1984. Four years later, after a stint in banking, he came back to Tech as academic advisor for the football program, and from 1991 to ’95, he was the assistant athletics director for academics. Thereafter, Stansbury was employed in a similar capacity at universities in Houston, Tennessee and Florida. His last job was with Oregon State, which sued him for breach of contract when he accepted the position of athletic director in Atlanta in late 2016. “It’s been an incredible journey,” he said.

“I was the first in my family to go to college. Neither of my parents graduated high school, so the opportunity to come to Georgia Tech on a scholarship really changed the whole trajectory of my life.” Stansbury’s first impression upon returning to his alma mater left him nonplussed. “Those football players were on spring break. There was not a book in sight. I was incredibly impressed with their ability to ride tricycles off the high dive and throw beach chairs into the pool and sundry other things,” he joked. Things have changed a lot since then. Nine Yellow Jackets teams under Stansbury’s direction have earned Directors’ Cup points based on National Collegiate Athletic Association standards; Tech has a multiyear Academic Progress Rate higher than the national average in every sport; and its graduation rate stands at 89 percent, according to figures published by the institute. “I look at intercollegiate athletics as just a vehicle to develop young people,” Stansbury told attendees at the luncheon. “We are in a unique situation in higher education in that we still have a carrot and stick. Most kids will do anything you ask him to do just because they want to play a game and so it’s up to us to ask them.” He added, “That’s the other thing about












An art fan maps street murals in and beyondAtlanta





The Orchar d at Brookh sisted living aven, an asfacility that caring for specializes those with in dementia, opened on recently Buford Highw ay, a large, low “pre-le yelasing” banne r still hangin over its front g entrance. Just yards from that front entran a dirt path ce is that runs along Buford way, created Highover many reporternewsp years by people walking along the busy thorou spite a lack ghfare deof sidewa lks. That is supposed dirt path to become a 10-foot Perim and a 5-foot landscape eter Businsidewa ess Springlk strip, a condit 2019 | the city put PCIDs mark ion Where brick-and-mortar retail still works on theThe ofdeveloper s 20 years property when was rezone shaping Perim the d two years eter Cente r ago to See SIDEWA LK on page 23 MAY 2019

Section Two

Sandy Springs Dunwoody






Perimeter Business: PCIDs turns 20 ►Q+A with local couple behind Atlanta’s big anime convention



P. 36


Main photo, the diverging at Ashford-Dunwoody

SPECIAL diamond looked shortly Road and interchange I-285 as after opening it Inset, the in 2012. Hammond Ga. 400 Drive interchange FILE shortly after with it opened in 2011.


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After 20 increasingly years of a population jammed boom, scraper-sprouting highways and skyit may sound mega-developments, quaint that about Perimeter people worried Mall traffic 1999. way back in But the provement Perimeter Community Districts, Imof business the self-taxing groups out of those property owners that formed concerns, sons the local boom are among the why the has happened reatraffic and to Perimeter isn’t even worse. If you Center today, get there you may go via well PCIDs pushed one of the big projects – like the ramps on Hammond the Ga. 400 Drive woody or the Ashford-DunRoad diverging change diamond at I-285 – and you’ll intertouches they’re responsible see smaller scaping and rush-hour for, like “They had traffic cops. landone, cleaning a reputation for, those cosmeticthings up, providing number some of amenities used to,” we’ve all said Ann become the CIDs Hanlon, who watched form as a longtime resident and now Dunwoody serves as director. their “At lutionary, the time, that was executive that a private pretty to pay for group was revothose amenities.” willing Back in day cover 1999, the three cities that Perimeter en, Dunwoody toCenter – Brookhavnot yet exist. and Sandy Springs As the – did its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead it has sion on transportation, refocused its to misproposals leaving such as park-building previous ies. Transportation erything these days to the citfrom trail networks helping to buildmeans evmultiuse to shaping toll lanes the future and transit That’s in of on Ga. 400 addition and I-285. PCIDs currently to some of the like sidewalks provides or basics the and crosswalks,coordinates, shuttles, traffic signal commuter rimeter timing and Connects the Pecommuter vice. advice serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector Center’s is future, with CONTINUED

Is this the gun that killed Buckhead’s namesake deer?


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It took — and cial media, a harmonic everything convergence an unmet an engineer’s A tribute changed “It was of soan eye-opening for Rudick. to the former recalls. ping more need to launch retirement and IMAGE in Buckhead, “This Limelight COURTESY experience,” maps covering ro Atlanta. than 500 street a website mappainted disco behind ART RUDICK On the was amazing he by Dr. stuff.” same trip, murals 14 neighborhoods outlying Binder’s duced Dax and in metFittingly, Rudick’s him to cities as Art Supplies The Loss a guy named Instagram, niece introand Sandy and such home Dunwoody, to locate Prevention. to Springs. all of Art was walking six self-guided hood full his Old Fourth and he returned The site Brookhaven the one “I’ve alwaysthe art. tour. Ward of curiosity. also and includes walking photos “It’s partially had Rudick tours of provides He wantedneighborof Atlanta’s says, “but an interest ing that because street art on his in art,” myself. Rudick, bios of 16 muralists. I’ve never street murals to take cartoon,” I grew new Instagram I once an engineer the attraction. up watchbeen an Art end of Rudick did woodworking were the by, making to post 2016 after artist who retired account, says, explaining murals? custom ca-Cola, but where a He says How could as a hobat the Necessity furniture.” The design finds most 32-year career his favorite he find ro, who ing local tion when became the of a new with Cofor Rudick, artists them? uses a artists on of his content mother hobby are Yoyo Rudick technique 61, about contour contact by followmap of Instagram. he and Ferdrawing, three yearstook shape page known the city’s realized that of invenhis He also of a collective times reach on his site, as blind and five with no street art a decent City. While wife visited ago when and artists has a who are him that didn’t exist. Club, which known there, the family in New website, previous experience a guided Twice somepart way. York So, Atlanta he does “a as the Lotus tour amazing to check a year, he says, in doing couple an online took it upon class Bushwickof street lot of interestingEaters work.” took on he drives art in the a himself of Donna He sure that every mural, and the guide to Atlanta’s neighborhood to create around workingand Howells, also admires as the artists her seventies new work site is current. part of making of Brooklyn a Cabbagetownthe work The result who put them street murals while making He’ll often SIGN UP only recently. who began is the Atlanta up. artist in at, Rudick spot TO RECEIVE the creating Street Art the artist says his favorite rounds. murals Rudick DAILY & which Map keeps his mural is has interactive in suburban Tom and known as Jerkface, WEEKLY eyes open one by Jerry cartoon EMAILS cities, based pears on ral is the too. Ferro’s for murals WITH LOCAL characters. on the Brookhaven’s first stop School, work The on the NEWS @ and the Cross Keys apLittle Five musuch locations REPORTERNEWS website High Points notes artwork as the PAPERS.NET/SI parking in garage CONTINUED GNUP of

Proposal for Wieuca roundabout is back






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building The Georgia Department of Transportation is considering flyover toll lanes atop the Northridge Road overpass.


The Sandy Springs Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIPs 30327, 30328, 30342 and 30350 For information:


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Affordable housing advocates who co-chaired the city’s North End Revitalization Task Force launched an initiative opposing the task force’s final report with a community meeting on Feb. 28. At that meeting, several north end residents said they feared the recommendations would lead to displacement of See TWO on page 14

scenes. For information: books for a long “I know it’s been on the delivery@reporterne time, but we need to mitigate it as much as we can,” said Rep. Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs), who says she’s trying to arrange a large-scale meeting of state engineers, local officials and possibly the general public. “This is very upsetting.” The toll lanes, called “express lanes” or “managed lanes,” are proposed by the Geor-


The Neighborhood Planning Unit system that reviews planning, zoning and other big issues for Atlanta city government is getting a review of its own. A downtown nonprofit called the Center for Civic Innovation has begun a quiet, but

potentially influential, series of meetings and surveys that aims to have reform recommendations for the 45-year-old system on the table by March 2020. “There are things about [the NPU system] that are amazing, and things that we need to have a lot more conversation about,” said CCI Executive Director Rohit See AFTER on page 14


The wooden stock is beige and battered with age. The metal plate above the trigger is decorated with a pair of birds. The barrel is long, heavy and octagonal. It’s an old muzzleloading firearm, for sure. It might even be the one that killed the deer that gave Buckhead its curious name in 1838. John Beach, president of the Buckhead Heritage Society, is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by tracking John Beach, see the tales surrounding Around Town, page 20. another little-known piece of area history – an 1842 log cabin that quietly survived destruction by being moved to a Buckhead back yard. In the meantime, Beach gave the Reporter an exclusive closeSee IS on page 22

See OFFICIALS on page 22


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Two groups with opposing views on redevelopment concepts for the north end of Sandy Springs have organized to voice their opinions as city officials determine which concepts should move


As neighborhood impacts of toll lanes planned along Ga. 400 and I-285 become are clearer, city and state elected officials The Buckhead Reporter seeking ways to influence the process with is mail delivered to homes varying tactics. Some officials say they’ll on selected carrier routes fight the project, while others aim for smallin ZIPs 30305, 30327 er tweaks. Some call for community-wide meetings, while some work behind theand 30342

Two groups launch to support, oppose north end concepts

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United Methodists struggle with church’s LGBTQ decision P18

Left, John Beach, president of the Buckhead which reputedly killed the neighborhood’s Heritage Society, holds the “Buckhead Gun,” namesake deer in 1838. Right, holds what is said to be the same firearm in an undated photo. (John James Whitley Ruch/Special)

After 45 years, a nonprofit launches a review of NPU citizen input system


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18 | Community ■

Residents test new voting machines BY DYANA BAGBY

Local election officials were busy providing free demonstrations to the public on how Georgia’s new voting machines work before they are rolled out statewide for the March 24 presidential primary. During a Feb. 13 demonstration of the machines at the Dunwoody Library, DeKalb Voter & Registration Elections official Nytia Harris walked dozens of people through the new system. The system includes electronic check-in on a machine similar to an iPad, selection of ballot choices electronically via a touch screen, and a paper record that lists in text the voter’s choices. The paper also includes a QR code. The paper is inserted into a scanner, STEP STEP STEP the size of a large garbage can, that reads the QR code to count the votes. The scanner also stores the paper ballot. “Truthfully, this is not a whole lot different than what we were using before, except PHOTOS BY DYANA BAGBY now we get a piece of paper,” said Shelagh Clegg, who tested out the new machines at the Step 1: Shirley McAllister of Dunwoody, left, checks in electronically with her library. “At least we have a record with the paper.” driver’s license to vote during a Feb. 13 demonstration of the state’s new voting machines at the Dunwoody Library. Other forms of ID are also accepted. The General Assembly approved purchasing the machines for the entire state for more than $100 million following legal challenges to the state’s electronic voting system. Step 2: McCallister makes her choices on a mock ballot via a touch screen. The nearly 20-year-old former system required people to check in to vote by checking in to vote by filling out a piece of paper. The voter would then get a plastic card that would Step 3: DeKalb Voter & Registration Elections official Nytia Harris, left, be inserted into a touch screen machine that would then record the ballot selections. shows Shelagh Clegg how to insert her paper ballot with a list of her Voters have complained for years there was no way to ensure the machine recorded selections into a scanner. The scanner reads a QR code on the paper to the correct votes on the plastic card. A paper printout with the QR code of a voter’s selectabulate the ballot. The paper remains locked in the scanner. tions as part of the new machines is supposed to alleviate those concerns. Questions raised during the Dunwoody demonstration about the new voting machines included how to ensure voter privacy; accuracy of the ballot counts; and if there


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would be enough help at each precinct in case there are slowdowns created by people confused with the new machines. Partitions are to be placed around the touch screens to provide privacy, Harris said. DeKalb County plans to add several more poll workers at each precinct to assist voters than in the past to limit potential backups. There will be one scanner for every 11 touch screens, which is expected to meet voter demand. None of the devices used to vote are connected to the internet, so no hacking can occur, Harris said. The machines don’t keep track of the ballot, Harris explained. It’s the scanner that reads the QR code from the paper that counts the ballot, she explained. The paper ballot is stored in a large ballot box attached to the scanner and if an audit of an election is needed, voting officials can unlock the ballot boxes to retrieve the paper ballots.

MARCH 6-15

MARCH 24 IS PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY, ATLANTA SPECIAL ELECT ION DAY March 24 is Election Day statewide for the presidential primary races. The city of Atlanta also will hold a special election that day, seeking to reauthorize a 1% sales tax. In the primary election, voters can choose their favorite among the majorparty contenders for president in advance of nomination votes at national party conventions. The Democratic ballot has a dozen candidates, some of whom have already withdrawn from the race. The Republican ballot has only incumbent President Donald Trump. Georgia holds open primary elections, meaning that a voter is free to choose either the Democratic or the Republican ballot, regardless of their political affiliation. Advance voting was scheduled to begin March 2. Within Atlanta, a ballot question seeks to extend the 1% Municipal Option Sales Tax, or MOST, that funds water and sewer projects. The MOST is set to expire later this year. Primary voters will have the MOST question on the same ballot. Nonpartisan voters also can choose a ballot that has only the MOST question. For more information, see the Georgia Secretary of State’s “My Voter” webpage at

MAY 1-10

JULY 10-19

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS ARE WE STILL OK AFTER THE SECURE ACT? IS THERE REASON FOR CONCERN IN LIGHT OF THE RECENTLY ENACTED SECURE ACT? No, most people should continue to feel secure (pardon the pun). The financial media has enjoyed a field day describing the SECURE Act, which affects retirement accounts, as a game-changer. We have received questions from clients, but the group of people who need to modify their planning is a relatively small number. Although a bit of an oversimplification, it really boils down to just two main things. WHAT ARE THOSE TWO “MAIN THINGS”? The age at which you must start drawing down your retirement balances has been moved back to age 72. It was 70-1/2 previously. The new starting age applies to anyone not already 70-1/2 at the end of 2019. The later start improves planning flexibility for people who might retire before age 72 but, because of other income sources, may not actually need immediate withdrawals from their retirement accounts. Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, heads our Wealth Planning Committee. He describes it as: “They can develop an ‘optimization strategy’ for drawing down these accounts”. YOU SAID THERE WERE TWO “MAIN THINGS”… The other important item generally affects beneficiaries of IRA accounts who are NOT the surviving spouse of the deceased account owner. Before the SECURE Act, these inheritors could slowly draw down these retirement accounts in installments over their entire lifetime. That offered some great

Sam Tortorici, CEO & Director, Cadence Bank, N.A., and President, Cadence Bancorporation, discusses the SECURE Act with Linscomb & Williams team members MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®, and Bill Kring, CFP®

income tax planning flexibility. The SECURE Act generally shortens the withdrawal period to a maximum of 10 years. In certain cases, where families fully expect that retirement assets will pass to the next generation, planning should likely be updated. IS THERE A “BOTTOM LINE” HERE? Everyone needs good planning around configuring cash flow in retirement. If you have not focused on this area, we recommend sitting down with a financial advisor who is a fiduciary 100% of the time, like Linscomb & Williams. We have an experienced and fully-credentialed team and are available to meet in our office right here in Atlanta.

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Linscomb & Williams is not an accounting firm. Subsidiary of Cadence Bank. Cadence Insurance and Investment Products: Not insured by FDIC. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value. Not insured by any Federal Government Agency. Not a bank deposit.

20 | Community ■

How to respond to 2020 U.S. Census questions arriving in March BY DYANA BAGBY

Residents are expected to begin receiving information from the U.S. government in mid-March asking them to participate in the 2020 Census, part of a national headcount that takes place every 10 years. The numbers are used to determine how to distribute annually some $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments. According to a recent George Wash-


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ington University study, Georgia receives about $2,300 a year per person based on Census figures. The numbers also determine how many seats a state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and are used to draw legislative and school districts. By April 1, known as Census Day, all homes across the country are scheduled to have

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Census questionnaires. There are no citizenship questions on the Census. Federal law protects Census responses and information from being shared with law enforcement or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Sample questionnaires and more information about the Census are available at For the first time, people will be able to answer Census questionnaires online via a website portal that launches March 23. People also will be able to answer the Census questionnaire by phone or by mail. Households will begin receiving invitations to respond online to the 2020 Census be-

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tween March 12 and 21. Reminder letters and postcards will be sent out through March and April. Beginning in May and continuing through July, Census workers will go doorto-door to households that have not responded.

What the Census does State, county and city governments use the federal money distributed based on Census data to fund schools, hospitals and emergency services. The results also inform how billions of dollars will go to programs like Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, highway construction, school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, according to the Census Bureau. Developers and business owners also use Census data to decide where to open new

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restaurants or factories or where to build new office buildings.

Local government sources Local officials use various methods to inform people about the importance of being counted. Officials are holding community meetings, launching social media campaigns and hosting public events where they can hand out Census swag, such as tote bags and water bottles. The city of Atlanta has a website at to provide information about

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how to participate in the Census. It is estimated that 35% of Fulton County’s population will be hard to count, so the city is recruiting Neighborhood Ambassadors on the website to reach out to friends and neighbors to get the word out. This is the first Census for the city of Brookhaven, which incorporated in 2012. The city has budgeted $70,000 to try to reach all residents and ask them to take part in the Census. Special attention is being made to reach the city’s Latino and Hispanic residents living in apartments on or near Buford Highway. More than 24% of the city’s approximately 54,000 residents identify as Latino or Hispanic. The city’s outreach also includes ads on Telemundo and partnering with groups such as the Latin American Association and Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, according to Patty Hansen, who is organizing the city’s efforts. The city is hosting a March 14 festival at Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway to raise awareness about the Census. In Dunwoody, the city is planning an April 1 Census Day event at the Dunwoody Li-

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brary where iPads will be available for people to fill out Census questionnaires. Other outreach events include a “Kids Count” event at the Farmers Market on April 4 to make sure young children are counted and an April 19 event at Crossroads Church. The church is trusted by many in the Hispanic community, said city spokesperson Jennifer Boettcher. The Refugee Women’s Network also is collaborating with the city to target local apartment complexes, she said.

MARCH 2020

Community | 21

New Tree Protection Ordinance draft expected in March BY JOHN RUCH

A draft of a new Tree Protection Ordinance will be unveiled this month in advance of a March 20 City Council work session where it will be discussed, according to the city’s planning chief. It’s the first step in reviving a rewrite process that abruptly stalled last fall amid complaints from residents and City Council members about various problems, including a lack of details in the presentations. “What will be different about it is that it will be specific,” said Tim Keane, commissioner of the Department of City Planning, about the new version. “It’ll be a draft of a specific proposal for the tree ordinance, where before, we were just talking about ideas and concepts.” “I know very much what’s going to be proposed. I’m not going to talk to you about it,” Keane said of the draft, declining to mention any specific policies before the document is released to the public. “It’ll be interesting because it’s going to be a significant change from what we have. … The one thing I will say is that what we’re going to be proposing is going to be an ordinance that does a better job of protecting trees,” Keane said with a laugh. “So, I was surprised to hear I even need to say that. But it will definitely do that. And so it will, as a result, result in lots of debate.” Keane said the draft may be released in early March, but added that “since you and

everybody picks over this thing to death,” he would hedge that timeline to roughly a week before the March 20 council session. The tree ordinance has been in a rewrite phase for months – or years, through various processes – amid concerns that clear-cutting remains too easy in a city that prides itself on its urban forest. In November, the department abruptly canceled a Buckhead community meeting with virtually no notice or explanation aside from a note placed on its website just hours beforehand. The immediate cause was negative reaction from a crowd – including many Buckhead residents – at a meeting the previous day in South Atlanta over both lack of detail and unhappiness with what details were presented. The re-start of the process appears to have come with similar limited notice, when a new timeline appeared on the website around January. Beyond the March review, the timeline includes a second draft in June, and a third draft in July. The timeline then calls for taking the third and final draft to the City Council and Neighborhood Planning Units for review and a final vote in August. Keane would not explain why the process stopped and started with limited notice or how future changes in the process would be publicized, beyond saying “everybody knows” and that there will be ample public input. Planning department spokesperson Patricia Walden later said, “Any community meetings, including any updates to the schedule, will be announced accordingly through multiple appropriate media platforms.”


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22 | Community ■

250 police cameras were dead for months in contract blunder Continued from page 1 tracts expired, he said. “This was probably a bump in the road we should have expected,” he added. The dead devices were a small portion of the roughly 10,600 public and private surveillance cameras plugged into the Operation Shield network that officers view at a central office. But that still meant 250 spots around Atlanta had a false sense of security and none of the expected video evidence that Operation Shield officers use to dispatch patrol cars or investigate crimes. And that’s on top of the other cameras that are broken or worn out at any given time. Of the small percentage of Operation Shield cameras directly owned by the city – 716 – a total of 53 were shut down for maintenance or upgrades or were “just plain not working” as of Feb. 20, according to APD spokesperson Carlos Campos. The maintenance contracts for the 250 cameras appear to have fallen between the cracks of the three agencies with Operation Shield administrative duties: the foundation, APD and the city government. It appears there is no single employee who tracked contracts across the jurisdictions. Wilkinson said the quick fix was to have the foundation retain maintenance supervision of the cameras, while the city will pay for the work. It’s a solution that will be tested again, because the 250 cameras were just the first batch to have expiring contracts, with many more privately funded cameras soon to pass into city maintenance. At the same time, the APD’s surveillance system is growing larger and more technically demanding, and not just by the continual addition of cameras to Operation Shield. Wilkinson said the foundation and APD are now working on a program called “Operation Aware” that would link camer-

as and such databases as recently scanned license plates, vehicle registration records and criminal rap sheets to start suggesting possible suspects almost automatically in a “real-time crime center.” A basic premise of Operation Shield is the use of privately owned cameras to reduce or eliminate city expenses. APD can watch through the networked cameras, but does not own or store the data from those that are privately owned. A big strategy of system expansion is a foundation program where private groups or individuals can pay for cameras, which are then installed at spots identified in an APD master plan. The program has been popular in Buckhead, where funders have included the Buckhead Community ImSPECIAL provement DisAtlanta City trict and City Councilmember CouncilmemJ.P. Matzigkeit. bers J.P. Matzigkeit and Howard Shook. In October or November of last year, Wilkinson learned that many of those cameras were dead. “About 250 of the cameras were down,” he said. “…Three here, two there, one there.” They were a mix of visual and license-plate reader cameras. Talks quickly began with Police Chief Erika Shields, city councilmembers and other officials. But they were done quietly, apparently in part so that criminals would not know. In November, Wilkinson wrote an opinion article for the Reporter about Operation Shield that did not mention the

situation. But as time wore on, frustrations grew. In January, Shook told fellow BCID board members that he understood that an “unsettling percentage” of the Operation Shield cameras were not working. Meanwhile, the foundation and APD figured out that the problem was the maintenance contract. The program of private funding for the cameras included installation and a three-year maintenance and operations agreement, which was carried out by the foundation’s contractor, ISO Network. After that, the cameras were supposed to shift to city maintenance. The city, according to Wilkinson, uses a different contractor, GC&E Systems Group. That shift never happened and with the bills unpaid, the opSPECIAL erator pulled Dave Wilkinson, the plug on the president and CEO cameras. of the Atlanta Police Wilkinson Foundation. said he understands from APD that it was a “procurement issue at the city…the bottom line is, they had a little bit of a glitch in that system.” City press secretary Michael Smith did not have immediate comment from the administration. “There were some cameras that, frankly, went down. The ball was dropped in that transfer,” said Matzigkeit. Operations and maintenance, Wilkinson said, cost about $1,200 per camera per year, of which $500 to $600 is maintenance and the rest is wireless or cable connections.

When the contract issue was identified, Wilkinson said, a 28-day solution plan began. “The city immediately started fixing half [of] the cameras,” and the foundation covered the rest, he said. “As of about three weeks ago, they were basically back up and running again.” Four still were being brought online as of early February, he said. “We need to build a more sustainable maintenance program,” Wilkinson said. The deal where the foundation supervises the maintenance while the city pays is “a better plan, certainly, going forward,” he said. “We’ve tightened up the process.” “We are aware that several months ago there were some issues that resulted in a couple hundred cameras requiring repair and maintenance,” APD spokesperson Campos said “We are confident that those issues have been addressed, and estimate that only about 7% of the cameras in the Operation Shield network maintained by the city of Atlanta are currently in need of maintenance.” Regular maintenance issues can be time-consuming, Wilkinson said, sometimes taking weeks depending on the problem and the ownership. “On any given day, there’s a camera or two that go down,” said Wilkinson, adding that the Operation Shield goal is that “no more than 5% of the cameras [are] down at any given time.” Matzigkeit said he is working the foundation, APD and city officials to ensure there is a sufficient budget for camera maintenance and such other possibilities as arrangements to lease, rather than own, the equipment. “The Police Foundation and I personally [are] committed to the camera program and making sure the camera program is up and running,” said Matzigkeit. “… So that’s what’s happening now, is getting this set up.”




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Community | 23

Employer-paid housing idea gains traction, but discrimination is concern Continued from page 1


According to media reports, the city’s Office of Civil Rights began investigating rent one-time discounts as preferred employer discounts and move-in incentives reserved programs. One is Icon for well-paid employees of Buckhead, a luxury skysuch mega-corporations scraper that opened on as Microsoft and Amazon, Peachtree Road in Ocwhich are among the causes tober with rents for a of rapid gentrification there. studio unit starting at The question was wheth$1,764. Icon offers a oneer preferred employer protime $500 rent discount grams are discriminatory to employees of severunder fair housing laws. al companies, mostly Landlords said no, bemassive corporations cause employer status is and nonprofits like Conot a protected class of peoca-Cola, Salesforce, Delple. But housing rights activta Air Lines, Emory ists said yes, in what is called Healthcare and the law “disparate impact,” meaning firm Morris, Manning an apparently neutral policy SPECIAL & Martin. However, it Denise Starling, executive that has discriminatory side also applies to appardirector of Livable Buckhead. effects. ently anyone working “Data has shown workat the local Atlanta Tech Village and Tower force gaps exist in the tech sector, for exPlace complexes. ample, based on gender and race, which Karen Houghton, a vice president at Atnegatively impact groups who are curlanta Tech Village, said her organization rently underrepresented in the tech workwas happy to partner with Icon Buckhead force,” says a Seattle city webpage about on the program. “It’s within walking dispreferred employer programs. “Given Setance to the Village and with a lot of young attle’s high rents and increasing unaffordentrepreneurs who work long hours, savability, incentives and opportunities for ing money and time on your commute certain groups over others may perpetuate leaves more time to work on your busiexisting racial, gender and other social inness,” she said. equities.” Jennifer Spara of The Related Group, In 2016, the Seattle City Council banned which operates Icon Buckhead, said about the programs. The city website said the Of10% to 15% of the tenants work at the profice of Civil Rights reviews them on a casegram’s preferred employers. She said she by-case basis. has worked at other complexes that offered “Tenants benefiting from preferred emongoing rent breaks of 5%. ployer rental discounts aren’t the tenants Starling said such existing programs that need assistance in the affordability are “more of a marketing tool” and “not crisis Seattle faces,” Councilmember Lisa full-fledged, employer-assisted housing” of Herbold, who sponsored the ordinance, the sort Livable Buckhead has in mind. But said in a written statement at the time. “It’s her discussion of the programs at public fothe renters who are on Social Security or rums in recent months has garnered signifwho receive child support assistance that icant support. need a helping hand, and that’s who this “I think we’re going to have to do somelaw was intended to aid.” thing like that,” said District 8 City CouncilFor what Livable Buckhead has in mind, member J.P. Matzigkeit, noting that Buck“I wouldn’t call it discriminatory,” said head’s housing costs make it hard for Starling, likening it to MARTA pass subsiemployees to stay. dies from employers. But she added, “That’s The Buckhead Council of Neighbora tough question. It’s a good question. It’s hoods is on board as well. “That has to be something we need to consider as we craft figured out economically and approprithis strategy.” ately, but we think it makes a whole lot of It remains to be seen how landlords sense,” BCN chair Mary Norwood said the and employers will respond to Livable employer-subsidized housing idea at a Feb. Buckhead’s ideas. Spara said her company 13 Buckhead Business Association meeting. would be glad to review proposals, and reDistrict 3 City Councilmember Antosponded positively to the idea of employer nio Brown has a different term for presubsidies to let people live closer to work. “I ferred employer programs. It’s “discrimithink it’s an awesome and helpful solution nating,” he said. Brown was the sponsor of to traffic problems,” she said. recent council legislation that bars landOn the other hand, the Atlanta Apartlords from discriminating on the basis of ment Association, an industry group, says tenants’ income, including the use of federpreferred employer programs are already ally subsidizing housing vouchers. “I didn’t waning naturally. know that was happening,” he said of pre“Preferred employer discount proferred employer programs, adding that if grams are fairly common, and have been landlords present them as an affordable traditionally used to assist larger employhousing solution, they may be “operating ers whose offices are in close proximias if they’re trying to fix the problem when ty to available housing,” said association they are the problem.” spokesperson Kelly Cole. “Programs vary as to what’s provided. With the rapid rise of The Seattle ban digital marketing, and specific preferences That was the take of the Seattle City of today’s prospective residents, preferred Council when preferred employer proemployer programs are on the decline, as grams became controversial there in 2015. a small discount based on their employer

being ‘preferred’ is viewed by most employees as not all that important in their apartment search.” Starling said there are questions on the tenant side as well. “We may find people don’t want their employer involved in their

housing,” she said. She said Livable Buckhead hopes learn in the next 60 days whether it has secured grant funding for the study to answer such questions.

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A department store pianist in the key of entertaining customers

BY JUDITH SCHONBAK Music is Von Maur’s trademark at its department store at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody. On any given day, the sounds of skillfully played piano music carries throughout the three floors. The piano and the musician at the keys sit at the foot of the escalator bank on the first floor, with an area of comfortable chairs nearby. Pianist and composer David Reeb plays a broad range of tunes from classical to Broadway during the midday hours four days a week. The Georgia native is marking his eighth year playing for Von Maur customers and store employees alike. His fingers move surely over the keys without a pause even when a shopper


Pianist David Reeb sits at his instrument in the Von Maur store at Perimeter Mall.

Continued on page 28

Cinema Paradiso

Donna Lefont seeks to keep film history alive with pop-up screenings BY LAUREN LEATHERS When Donna Lefont was 8 years old, her father worked at a local movie theater. As a single dad, he often took his children to work with him, where they would run freely around the theater. Lefont’s favor-

ite place to explore were the projection rooms. She recalls peeking out from behind the machinery and seeing a dark room full of people, their faces lit up by the screen. “It was kind of like a Cinema Paradiso,” she says, namechecking the classic Italian film about a Continued on page 29


26 | Art & Entertainment ■

Author Q&A: Thriller novelist Harlan Coben on suburban secrets and Netflix hits BY JOHN RUCH

where “Tell No One” was made into an acclaimed 2006 film. Coben entered the filmmaking business himself as a writer and producer, creating the British mystery series “The Five” in 2016. Now he is adapting his works for international audiences on Netflix, where a British production of “The Stranger” debuted in January. His local appearance is part of the year-round programming for the Book Festival of the MJCCA, a major event every November. It wouldn’t be a Coben event without a plot twist – in this case, two bestselling novelists for the price of one. He will appear “in conversation” with Emily Giffin, a Buckhead resident and author of such hits as “Something Borrowed” and “All We Ever Wanted.” The Reporter recently asked Co-

Harlan Coben enters his 30th year of authorship as a master of the plot-twist thriller, with such bestsellers as “Tell No One” and “The Stranger.” He’ll deliver some more thrills to local fans by appearing for a discussion and book-signing at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta on March 18, the day after the debut of his latest mystery, “The Boy from the Woods.” The new novel, about a man who was found living feral and orphaned in the wild and who now goes in search of a missing girl, is one of Coben’s standalone thrillers. He’s had success in the series format, too, with the adventures of ex-basketball pro Myron Bolitar and his morally challenged pal Win Lockwood, and three young-adult thrillers starring Myron’s nephew. European film and TV has been very Coben-friendly, especially in France,

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Art & Entertainment | 27

ben about the appeal of suburban evil, the challenges of writing technothrillers and more. Q: Dark secrets behind suburban life is a theme in many of your books and seems to show up in the new one, too. What is that fascinates you about suburban life in that way? A: The suburbs is the home of the socalled American Dream – a nice house, a picket fence, two cars, two-point-four kids, peace, security, etc. -- but a dream is fragile. How far will you go to protect it? That interests me. Q: You’re having a string of success with Netflix productions based on your books. How involved are you in those productions? Is it challenging to hand your written babies over to a different medium?

A: I love doing these adaptations with Netflix, including the most recent, “The Stranger.” If you think about it, I’ve chosen to spend most of my life alone in a room by myself. To get out of that room and collaborate with tons of talented people – cast, crew, writers – has been a wonderful change. I compare the bookwriting to winning a tennis or golf championship. You celebrate alone. The TV adaptations are more like being captain of a team. We celebrate together. We rise and fall as one. Oh, and I’m very involved with the Netflix series. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Q: You use technology in a lot of your plots. When you’re writing that type of thriller, do you try to write in a way that will hold up in 10 years, or are you happy with it being a snapshot of the moment?

I write contemporary novels. They are a snapshot of that moment. That’s how it should be. That’s how it is, if you think about it, with almost every novel. What must be universal is in the emotion and themes – the humanity -- not the trappings of time or locations. Q: You seem to be back to writing standalone novels rather than series. Is there something drawing you in that standalone direction? Any plans to bring some of your favorite characters back in the series form? A: Not really. Since 2000, I’ve written a Myron Bolitar novel every five or six years. My last Myron novel was “Home” in [2016], so that’s about right. Will I write more Myron and Win books? That’s the plan. I never force it. I wait until the idea comes to me and then I’ll see whether it will work for the series or not.

Q: In your local book festival visit, you’ll be in conversation with Emily Giffin, one of our local star novelists. Do you know her or have opinions about her work? A: I’m a huge Emily Giffin fan and – don’t be envious – I’ve already read an advanced copy of her upcoming release, “The Lies That Bind.” Ooh boy, is it great. I think it’s her best. Emily is also a wonderful friend and absolutely hilarious. It will be a fun event, I promise.

Harlan Coben in conversation with Emily Giffin Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35 (includes new book “The Boy from the Woods”) Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody

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28 | Art & Entertainment ■

A department store pianist in the key of entertaining customers Continued from page 1 stops to ask for directions or make a comment on the music. The Reporter talked with Reeb and as he played at Von Maur. And, yes, he did play a request: “Clair de Lune” by Debussy and a jazz medley. Q: When did you start playing the piano? A: I was 4. My parents bought a piano for my 10-year-old sister so she could take lessons. I loved that piano right away and after hearing her play “Chopsticks,” I sat down and played it by ear. I played “Chopsticks” a lot and my parents probably got tired of it. They told me to stay away from the piano and said it is not a toy. Finally, I sat down and played a song all the way through from memory, by ear. It was a song from church: “Jesus Loves Me.” They were impressed, and from then on, I could play when I wanted to. I actually did not take lessons until I was 16. But I loved practicing and wanted to practice rather than play outside or do almost anything else.

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Q: Did you have a preference for a certain genre of music once you started lessons? A: Not particularly. I loved playing everything. I am classically trained from my private lessons and continued that love and expanded styles and genres to include jazz, standards, popular music and Broadway while training at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia, and the University of Georgia. Q: When did you begin playing at Von Maur? A: I began in 2012. This is my eighth year playing for Von Maur. Right now, I am playing four days a week, though the schedule changes occasionally. Two other musicians also play here: John Ivey and Elizabeth Carey. Q: Do you get a lot of requests as you play? A: A few. People seem to like to take a break from shopping or wait to meet someone, so mostly they sit and listen. This is a good meeting place because of where I am located in the store. It’s easy to find. When I do get requests, it’s usually a favorite song or it may be seasonal, like a special Christmas tune. Q: There is no sheet music on your piano. Do you know all your repertoire by heart? A: I have about 3,000 pieces in my head, from classical and jazz, to Broadway, standards through the decades and those popular today. I keep some sheet music in my briefcase just in case, but mostly I practice new pieces all the time. Even though I play a lot every day, I still love to practice and add to my repertoire. Q: Do you have occasion to meet people and play for them at Von Maur? A: Sometimes people will ask me about playing for a private event they are planning. As for playing at the store, I did have a wonderful experience this past December. I had just finished my shift at Von Maur when a young woman in an evening gown and her parents stopped at the piano. It turned out that she is the current Miss Georgia and her talent in the beauty pageant competition was singing. I played for her and she sang. She has a beautiful voice, and, in fact, she went on to win the talent competition in the most recent Miss America pageant. Q: Where else do you play? A: I play five nights a week for singers at open mic sessions and sing-alongs at Stone Mountain Public House, Olive Bistro in Midtown and Buckeye Room Bar & Grill in Chamblee. I also play at for weddings, receptions, parties and other private events, and I currently teach two students.

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Q: You are also a composer. What have you written? A: I have written music for several theater shows. One was “Teachers: The Musical.” It premiered in Acworth, Georgia to rave reviews. I did a YouTube video for the Christmas season called “Mozart’s Two Front Teeth.” It’s a take-off in Mozart style of Christmas songs. Included are “Mozart Wants a Hippopotamus for Christmas” and “Mozart Got Runover By a Reindeer.” I made up a whimsical story for each one. Q: What would Mozart think? A: I think he would laugh. He had a sense of humor and played around with music like throwing in a lot of unexpected notes in his works.

MARCH 2020

Art & Entertainment | 29

Cinema Paradiso

Donna Lefont seeks to keep film history alive with pop-up screenings Continued from page 1 young boy who escapes life in his war-torn village at the local movie house. “The theater was my home away from home and I got used to it.” The Lefont name is legendary in Atlanta because Donna’s ex-husband, George Lefont, owned for 40 years a chain of independent cinemas in the city that still loom large in movie-lover’s minds. The chain included The Silver Screen, The Screening Room, Garden Hills Cinema, Lefont Sandy Springs and Plaza Theatre. Lefont Theaters were the place to see foreign, independent and documentary films. George opened his first theater, The Silver Screen, in Buckhead circa 1976. Lefont Sandy Springs -- now the Springs Cinema & Taphouse -- was the last theSPECIAL George and Donna Lefont at the Academy ater he owned before retirAwards in an undated photo. ing in 2017. Donna has made it her this day and age with all the technology mission to not only continue George’s available, we need to stay connected.” legacy, but continue her passion for cuThe movies Food Film Music screens rating films, connecting the communiare hand-picked and curated by Lefont. ty, and teaching the relevance of cineShe says researching the films is her ma she first experienced as a child. favorite part, because she’ll often go The Lefont Film Society was creatdown a rabbit hole of discovering moved in 2012 to “bring back a version of ies she’s never seen prior. After picking the Lefont programming and nostalthe film, Lefont researches the distribugia without having a physical location tion rights or contacts distributors to again,” and has since become integratrequest screening rights. ed into Food Film Music (foodfilmmu“Hidden history is what I’m trying to, a series of pop-up style screendiscover and find new ways to connect ings. “The pop-up idea came to me — food, film, and music pretty much because it kind of allows for curated connect all of us in some way,” she says. programming, specific to the neighborNext on the Food Film Music docket hood audiences.” is a double feature of “The Mindfulness Lefont says the pop-up cinemas – Movement” and “Tashi and the Monk” which will take place in various locaon Saturday, April 4, from noon to 4 tions including yoga studios, local thep.m. at the Cinevision Screening Room aters, restaurants, boutiques, and more in Chamblee. – will provide the opportunity to hold Lefont is also collaborating with tight to the city’s film history, provide Emory University’s Cognitively-Based education opportunities, and fulfill Compassion Training, which focuses her passion for film. It also provides a on practicing attentional stability, anchance for movie-goers to collectively alytical reflection, and increased emoshare emotion and exchange dialogue tional awareness, at future movie and about the films. meditation events. She also plans to “If you’re watching something and host a film screenwriting camp in June you’re crying together, with your pupils for 5th to 9th graders to teach screensniffling next to you, and you’re trying writing and storytelling. To Lefont, a to hold it back, or people are busting a great story will remain timeless. gut laughing,” Lefont says. “You’re shar“There’s so many production camps ing emotion with people, and I think in and workshops available, but let’s back

it up to storytelling,” she says. “We have to retrain our minds to not consume so much all the time, and to actually be mindful and slow down and really appreciate this visual motion picture art form for what it is. Without that, you’re going to lose film history.” As with many aspects of media in this digital age, there is a looming shadow over the fate of the traditional movie theater due to distribution rights, the convenience of streaming entertainment, and the influx of film that is changing Atlanta. “I think it’s going to take reaching a plateau that people are going to want to connect back in the dark auditorium with strangers,” Lefont says. “Sure, you can have comfortable seats in your home, but that’s not the same as having this huge screen take over your whole life. You have to make the effort to appreciate the art form, no different than going to see a live band versus listening to it online.” While Atlanta has become Hollywood adjacent with Tyler Perry Stu-

dios, Pinewood Studios, and EUE/ Screen Gems and dozens of big budget film and television shows constantly in production (from the Marvel universe films to “Stranger Things”), the city’s growing film economy hasn’t phased Lefont. She’s focused on conserving the vast film history the city holds. “There’s so much growth going on in this city and I think it’s important to hang on to the history and to keep sharing it even as people are moving here,” she says. “Everybody’s trying to get into the [film] business and I don’t even know if they understand the history of it.” Part of understanding that history is keeping George Lefont’s passion for cinema alive in the city. “The Lefont Film Society built such a great following all those years and I can’t let it disappear, because all the hard work would have been in vain,” she says. “It’s getting back out into the community and talking about the Lefont Theaters film legacy, the Atlanta film legacy.”

Photo: ING Photography

EXHIBITION EXTENDED On view through April 25, 2020

4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30338 Gallery Hours: Tuesday—Saturday: 11am-6pm, Monday: by appointment

30 | Art & Entertainment

H I G H ■


Enjoy free admission and special programs on the second Sunday of each month.






Saturday, March 21, 3 p.m. Riverwood International Charter School Dramatic Arts department presents the movie-based musical about a teenager rebelling in a town that has banned dancing. Tickets $15, students $10. Riverwood International Charter School, 5900 Raider Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: fultonschools. org/RiverwoodHS.



Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22, 1 p.m. Roswell Dance Theatre performs a onehour production of “Cinderella,” followed by Atlanta Dance Theater presenting a one-hour production of “Aladdin.” The Saturday matinee features a meet-and-greet with both casts. Princess costumes welcome, with costume contest at each performance. Tickets $20-$35. Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:




MARCH 8 • APRIL 12 Designed for little kids, big kids, and the whole family, Second Sundays are for everyone. Visit us each month and experience new interactive, innovative family activities inspired by our collections and rotating exhibitions. Generous support for Second Sundays is provided by the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation.

Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The annual music and arts festival will feature an arts & crafts market and children’s play area, with headlining performances from Rachel Platten (Saturday) and Better than Ezra (Sunday). Free. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info:

Friday, March 6-Sunday, March 15 A comedy about a man who tries to get the family fortune by jumping the line of succession by any means necessary, performed by the City Springs Theatre Company. Tickets: $30-$65. Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7, 8 p.m. Sunday, March 8, 3 p.m. Capitol City Opera Company opens its 37th season with opera by composer Charles Gounod, based on William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. Performed in French with English supertitles. Tickets: $30-$40. Conant Performing Arts Center, Oglethorpe University, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:



Thursday, March 12-Sunday, March 22 Jerry’s Habima Theatre, featuring actors with special needs as well as professional actors from the community, will presents the musical comedy using ABBA’s greatest hits to tell the story of a young woman’s search for her birth father. Tickets: Nonmembers $45 (children $15); memebrs $25 (children $10). Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: or 678-812-4002.


Thursday, March 19Saturday March 21, 6:30 p.m.


Sunday, March 22, 4-7 p.m. Celebrate World Water Day with Georgia River Network, featuring live music, beer, food from gourmet food trucks, a silent auction and raffle. Tickets $30, children $15. Pontoon Brewing, 8601 Dunwoody Place, Building 500, Suite 500, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 21, at 7:30 a.m. Peachtree Road Race qualifier and a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Registraton: $25. Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Friday March 13-Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday March 15, 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. The Sandy Springs Society’s longest-running fundraiser and sells gently used items of designer clothing, high-end accessories, jewelry, antiques, books, furniture, upscale home decor and more. Free; Thursday preview party $35. In former Chastain Preschool building, 4967 A Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 28, 6-11 p.m. Benefit for the Sandy Springs-based nonprofit TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, with live and silent auctions, live entertainment, a seated dinner and open

MARCH 2020

Art & Entertainment | 31

bar. Tickets $200. Intercontinental Hotel, 3315 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info:


Saturday, March 14–Sunday, April 26, 2020 The Georgia Watercolor Society (GWS) presents its juried show open to all watercolor artists across the United States. Tickets $5, students/children free. Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Sunday, March 15, 4 p.m. “Creating Harmony in Classical Proportions,” featuring works by Hazo, Persichetti, Schubert, Zdechlik, Heed, Fillmore, Reed and more. Free. Ahavath Achim Synagogue, 600 Peachtree Battle Avenue, Buckhead. Info:



Thursday, March 5, 7 p.m. Matt Matternes, an expert in the history and archaeology of cemeteries, speaks to the Buckhead Heritage Society about the cemetery at Buckhead’s New Hope Church. Free; reservations requested. New Hope Church Sanctuary, 3012 Arden Road, Buckhead. Info:


Saturday, March 7 through Sunday, March 29 The three-week-long festival celebrating Atlanta’s cultural and historical resources will showcase 100 “preservation partners” offering over 200 events, including guided walking tours, lectures, storytelling, open houses and more at various sites, including in Buckhead. Free. Info:


Wednesday, March 11, 9:30 a.m.-noon Carol Brooks and Pat Price of the North Fulton Masters Gardner’s will discuss “Shade and Shade Gardening.” Free. North Shallowford Annex, 4470 North Shallowford Road, Dunwody. Info:


March 11, 6-8 p.m. The Sandy Springs Education Force hosts its 10th Annual STEAM Showcase, a handson technology and arts exhibition. Free. North Springs Charter High School, 7447 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:

Sunday, March 15, 6 p.m. 20th anniversary concert with pianist Roberto Plano performing works from Ottorino Respigh, Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Heitor Villa Lobos, Alberto Ginastera and George Gershwin. Tickets: 10-$25, Studio Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. Info:


Tuesday, March 10, 6-7 p.m. The author of “The Temple Bombing,” “The Underdogs” and other nonfiction books and distinguished writer-in-residence at Agnes Scott College speakers in a presentation sponsored by the Friends of the Northside Branch Library. Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA, 1160 Moores Mill Road, Buckhead. Info: northside.branch@fultoncountyga. gov.


Monday, March 30, 7-8 p.m. Jennifer Renee Blevins’s debut memoir about her personal and family experiences in a fat-phobic world and critiquing the “obe-

sity epidemic.” Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, 4484 Peachtree Road, Brookhaven. Info:


Friday, March 13, 9-10:30am Rock collecting class. Free. Big Trees Preserve, 7645 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info:


Saturday, March 7, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Discover the best deals and sell your unwanted items at the Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Community Yard Sale. Free to Attend. Tables to Sell: $20 or $30 for two tables. Briarwood Park Recreation Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, Brookhaven. Reserve a table: 404-637-0512 or


Through Wednesday, April 15 The Community Assistance Center, serving Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, offers free tax return preparation and filing to moderate- to low-income households earning up to $55,000 in 2019. For an appointment please email or call (770) 552-4889 ext. 241.

32 | Education ■

Teaching historical photography at Lovett BY HANNAH GRECO


Karey Walter has been teaching both analog and digital photography at the Lovett School for 24 years. Walter’s work is unique because she is teaching in ways that have been forgotten by many: historical photo printmaking. While many schools have moved to digital photography and teach only Photoshop or other finishing software elements, Walter’s students learn black-and-white film photography, printmaking with ultraviolet light, daguerreotype and other historical methods of printing photography.


Easter Services

Holy Week

Palm Sunday

9:15am Sunday School 10:30am Worship

Maundy Thursday

7:00pm Communion Service

Good Friday

7:00pm Tenebrae Service

Easter Sunday

Northwest Presbyterian Church

9:15am Sunday School 10:30am Easter Celebration 11:45pm Easter Egg Hunt

4300 Northside Drive Drive,NW, NW 30327

Childcare Provided.

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Everyone Welcome!

Easter Sunday April 12, 2020

6:45 AM

Outdoor, sunrise worship with Communion

8:45 AM

10:55 AM

Traditional worship Traditional worship with choir, brass, with choir, brass, and Communion and Communion

ALL are welcome!

4400 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd Atlanta, GA 30342 | 404.261.3121

Easter at Misty Creek Palm Sunday

April 5 - 10:30am in the Stone Chapel

Good Friday

April 10 - 7pm Service in the Stone Chapel

Community Easter Sunrise (Easter message: Reverend David Shivers)

April 12 - 6:30am Arlington Memorial Park Sandy Springs

Easter Services

9am & 10:30am at the Stone Chapel with a dramatic presentation

March & April Sermon Series: Resurrection Stories

590 Mt. Vernon Hwy NE, Sandy Springs GA 30328 w w w.mist

Lovett School senior Kendall Greene, left, and fine art photography instructor Karey Walter pose in front of their works selected for Manifest Gallery’s 10th annual exhibit “TAPPED: Artists and Their Professors,” a showcase of works by current and former teacher/artist pairs in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Walter also helps her students enter their photographs in competitions. In January, Walter and Lovett senior Kendall Greene displayed their works at Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the 10th annual exhibit “TAPPED: Artists and Their Professors,” a showcase of works by current and former teacher/artist pairs. “The relationship between artists and their current or former instructors can be a powerful one,” an excerpt from Manifest Gallery’s website reads. “All of us who have been students carry forward our teachers’ legacy in one form or another.” “I was more than excited to see that my months of shooting with a medium-format film camera, processing rolls of color negative film by hand, editing and scanning had paid off,” Kendall said of her work being displayed at Manifest. “I am so lucky to be learning from Ms. Walter and learning the fundamental skills of photography.” Q: How did you get started with photography? A: My journey in photography started with my love of horses as a 12-year-old attending summer camp. I would photograph with disposable cameras and I become fascinated with capturing my life experiences. While in high school, I had the opportunity to learn the darkroom process with black-and-white film. Studying the arts in high school led me to explore the arts in college and eventually receiving my master of fine arts from the University of Utah. Q: How did you become the instructor of fine art photography at Lovett? A: After graduate school, I returned to the South and was unclear about my goals as a photographer. I decided to hike the Appalachian trail with my dog to discover myself. Along the way, I met another photographer who informed me of a job opportunity teaching photography at the Lovett School. My trail experience was at a time before cellphones, so I hiked to the Nantahala Outdoor Center to use a payphone and called Lovett. They wanted me to come to Atlanta for an interview, so I left the trail and landed the job. Twenty-four years later, I am grateful to be educating students and exploring many techniques in the photographic arts with generous support in the arts at Lovett. Q: What inspired you to begin teaching students about historical methods of photography versus the more common digital photography methods? A: While in graduate school, I studied a variety of historical photo processes from the 1840s through the 1900s. In addition to historical processes, I am trained as a darkroom photographer and skilled in a variety of analog film and printing processes. Lovett is unique because we still operate a fully functional analog darkroom that allows me to educate the students in a variety of photographic processes. Twenty-first-century learners are intrigued with making and tactile materials, so the darkroom is a magical place to explore and to understand the complexities of photography. We also introduce the students to digital photography and learning Adobe editing, but being behind a computer all day does not have the same experience as the analog process. Q: What is next for you and your students? A: My advanced photography students are studying a photography project called PhotoArk, created by Joel Sartore, a photographer for National Geographic. The PhotoArk’s imagery is a documentary series highlighting animals and where they currently stand with extinction. We are traveling on an overnight photo retreat to the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida, to photograph a variety of animals and research the sustainability efforts of this organization. White Oak researches and breeds several animals such as rhinos, okapi, zebras, cheetahs, giraffes and Pere David’s deer. Offering experiential learning gives the students a real-life documentary photoshoot, which allows them an interactive experience while photographing on location.

Education | 33

MARCH 2020 ■


very year, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation, known as the PAGE Foundation, identifies top students at public and private high schools across Georgia. The foundation says its Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program, or STAR student and teacher honors, has highlighted the achievements of more than 25,000 students since it started in 1958. The program identifies high school seniors who post the highest SAT scores for their schools and rank among the top 10 percent or top 10 students in their class in grade-point average. Each STAR student then chooses her or his STAR teacher. Once school winners are selected, regional STAR students and teachers are chosen to compete for the state title. Here are STAR students and teachers for high schools located in Reporter Newspaper communities. Atlanta International School

Maanit Madan Star Student

Brandon Hall

Catalina Ghercioiu Star Teacher

Chih-Chun (Vivian) Lin Star Student

The Galloway School

Nicholas Hungria Star Student

Matthew Keagle Star Student

Marist School

Charles Callahan Star Student

Ethan Shi Star Student

Nicole Chapman Star Teacher

Melody Cannon Star Teacher

Eliza Bruno Star Student

Holly Isserstedt Star Teacher

Manny Yepes Star Student

Erica Hiers Star Teacher

John Gresens Star Teacher

Ricardo Ruiz Star Student

Rod Schopke Star Teacher

Jenny Chen Star Student

Susan Wingate Star Teacher

Pace Academy

Ezra Midkiff Star Student

Aidan Gannon Star Student

Grady Stevens Star Teacher

St. Pius X Catholic High School

DeAndre Johnson Star Student

Riverwood International Charter School

Ann Graham Star Teacher

The Lovett School

Amanda Thornhill Star Teacher

North Springs High School

Yaron Bernstein Star Student

Justin Heo Star Student

North Atlanta High School

Amy Choi Star Teacher

Amber Player Star Teacher

Dunwoody High School

Holy Spirit Preparatory School

Mount Vernon School

Jose Gregory Star Teacher

Kimberly Kassis Star Student

Chamblee Charter High School

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School

Cheryl Despathy Star Teacher

Atlanta Girls’ School

Laura Romero-Mondragon Star Teacher

Daniel Buckley Star Student

The Weber School

Caroline Schneider Star Student

Olivia Rocamora Star Teacher

Maria Kepler Star Teacher

Margherita Ceccagnoli Star Student

The Westminster Schools

Anup Bottu Star Student

Claire Chen Star Student

Laura Drewicz Ewing Star Teacher

Carrie Stockard Star Teacher

34 | ■

Horse Lovers Summer Camp Chastain Horse Park - convenient Buckhead location! Boys and girls ages 4-8 – Mon-Fri 8am-1pm Many weeks to choose from during Summer 2020 Camp activities for our younger riders include horsemanship instruction (grooming, safety and more), riding lessons, crafts and games! Contact us at (404) 252-4244 ext.1001 or More information regarding summer schedule dates and registration form can be found at, select Riding Services, then select Summer Camp!

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Register Today! Visit or call 770.394.3447 for more info 404-252-4244 ext.1001

MARCH 2020

| 35

discounted rates available

Until April 30th

camp dates and locations INTOWN: June 1 – June 19, 2020

SANDY SPRINGS: June 22 – July 31, 2020

NORTH FULTON: July 6 – July 24, 2020

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MARCH 2020

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Things are heating up outside—and inside—the studio. This summer, we’ll explore dance from ballet and tap to jazz and hip hop. Plus, arts, crafts and dance-themed games. Camps run from June through July for dancers of all ages and skill levels. Come dance with us! Enroll today at THE EXCHANGE AT HAMMOND 5962 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 ELITESTUDIOSATL.COM 404.500.1738 © 2020 Elite Studios, LLC

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38 | Education ■


DeKalb County Board of Education member Stan Jester has announced he will not seek re-election for the District 1 seat. Andrew Ziffer of Dunwoody previously announced a challenge to Jester for the seat and is now running unopposed. Ziffer has said his agenda includes creating an atmosphere of collaboration between school officials and the community rather than one of division. “I know there are many people who are frustrated and feel ignored by the Board of Education and DeKalb Schools,” Ziffer said. “I will continue to focus my campaign on delivering a positive message, reaching out to the different neighborhoods and communities in District 1 to hear their thoughts.” The seat represents parts of Dunwoody, Chamblee, Brookhaven and Doraville. The election is May 19. “I’m tired and I’m getting spread pretty thin,” Jester said. “I don’t want my obligations outside of work to affect my ability to prepare for board meetings effectively.” Jester was first elected to the school board in 2014. In November, Jester said he was planning to run for a third term. He has been outspoken and critical of former Superintendent R. Stephen Green and his administration on issues ranging from spending to redistricting. “I think it’s important to recognize Stan Jester’s service to our community for the last 6 years,” Ziffer said. “He shined a light on many issues and helped many families.”


Two North Springs Charter High School students have been named Governor’s Honors Program semi-finalists. Grace Kirschner, junior, has been nominated for communicative arts and Matthew Szabo, sophomore, has been nominated for theatre. Both candidates will now have a final state-level interview in hopes to be selected as a finalist. SPECIAL If selected, Kirschner and Szabo From left, Grace Kirschner and Matthew Szabo. will spend four weeks this summer at Berry College in Berry for the GHP Summer Intensive program. The GHP is a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students who will be rising juniors and seniors during the program, according to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. The program is designed to provide students with academic, cultural, and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators and leaders, according to GOSA’s website.


A Riverwood International Charter Scool senior Neha Devineni has been named one of Georgia’s top two youth volunteers of 2020 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. In 2017, Neha founded the nonprofit ASA that now encompasses more than 100 young people in several states and overseas who are working to improve the lives of children in need, particularly in the areas of nutrition, sanitation and education. On a trip to India, Neha saw unimaginable poverty. “What I witnessed was heartbreaking,” Neha said in a press release. “Children younger than me were going to work in fields and factories and living in makeshift tents on the sides of the street.” As a state honoree of the Prudential award, Neha will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an allSPECIAL Riverwood International expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where Charter School senior she will join the top two honorees from each of the other Neha Devineni. states for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2020. The award, now in its 25th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Prudential is a nationwide program that honors young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.


For the fifth time in six years, a team from Saint Jude the Apostle Catholic School in Sandy Springs has won the Future City Regional Competition and represented the state in the National Championship in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. Future City is an engineering education program and tasks students with researching, designing and building a city to showcase their solution to a citywide sustainability issue. This year’s theme, “Clean Water: Tap into Tomorrow,” challenged the students to identify a threat to their city’s water source and design a resilient system to maintain a reliable supply of clean drinking water. The city would exist at least 100 years in the future, and the engineering solutions had to be innovative, futuristic and scientifically plausible, the release said. At the competition, teams presented their vision of the future through a virtual city design using “SimCity” video game software, a 1500-word essay, a scale model of their city built with recycled materials and a short oral presentation to a panel of STEM professionals. There was a spending limit of $100 to complete the task. Saint Jude’s team, named Team SMART Springs (an acronym for Safe MetropolisActive Resilient Thriving), consists of sixth-graders Adam Doulby, Anna Duffy, Barbara Guaderrama, Robbie Mahan, Ryan Quinnelly, Josh Tippen and eighth-grader Will Mahan. The students were guided by the faculty STEM advisor, Eleonora Straub, and parent coach, Banesa Guaderrama. In addition to placing first in the region, Team SMART Springs also won Best Research Essay, Best Virtual City, Accessible City Award and a special award presented by NCEES for Best Land Surveying Practices, the release said.

MARCH 2020

Classifieds | 39



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40 | ■

Experience Metro Atlanta’s Most Exciting Spring Festival Artist Market • Pet World Kidz Zone • Classic Car Show FREE PERFORMANCES

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