Dunwoody Reporter - April 2021

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APRIL 2021 • VOL. 12 — NO. 4

Dunwoody Reporter AROUND TOWN

A Dunwoody mural artist’s American Dream P17



Possible expansion of master-plan zoning stirs neighborhood concerns

Girl skateboarder ‘Army’ rolls at Brook Run


Canines comfort kids at Children’s Healthcare

BY SAMMIE PURCELL The city may allow developers of smaller projects to apply for a kind of master-plan zoning that essentially allows for blanket approval of variances from the code. The City Council will consider reducing the land requirement for the “Planned Development” (PD) district from 5 acres to 1.5 acres, a change that city staff said would help streamline the zoning process. But members of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association worry the change would make it easier for large developments to infringe on residential areas. The change could “open [the PD district] up for abuse,” said executive board member Bill Grossman said at a March 14 DHA meeting. The council was expected to review the change to its PD district at its April 12 meeting.



Hate crimes show need for equity in education P16

Planned Development Districts


The Dunwoody Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30338 For information: delivery@reporternewspapers.net

Walk into any skatepark in America and you’re likely to find more boys than girls. Brook Run Skate Park at 4770 North Peachtree Road, which has been owned by the city of Dunwoody since 2010, isn’t an exception -- most of the time. See GIRL on page 14


Gabby Belknap, 13, makes a jump at the March 7 Skateboard Girl Army contest at Brook Run Skate Park.

The PD District is a special zoning district that is intended to allow for property developments that might otherwise not be allowed by the city’s zoning restrictions. According to Dunwoody’s zoning code, part of the PD district’s purpose is to “provide flexibility, unity and diversity in land planning and development.” Dunwoody has zoned projects to the PD district in the past. According to city spokesSee POSSIBLE on page 15

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2 | Public Safety




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Overall crime declines in 2020, but violent crime rises


ia c e p S g Sprin

BY SAMMIE PURCELL Dunwoody experienced a slight increase in violent crime reports during 2020 despite lower crime rates overall, consistent with trends in neighboring cities and the rest of the county. According to the Dunwoody Police Department’s Crime Comparison report, the




overall rate of reported crime was down 28%

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from 2019. But more violent crimes, such were reported in 2020 than in 2019. Property crimes -- such as burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft -- dropped in 2020 compared to last year. Total reported property crime was down by 29.4% from 2019. DPD’s Crime Comparison reports provide a “snapshot comparison” of crimes, call data and workload statistics by month, not nec-



as homicide, rape and aggravated assault


essarily a comprehensive list, according to a

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DPD spokesperson. Crime statistics come with many qualifications. Not all crimes are reported to police, and some that are reported turn out not to be crimes or are classified as different offenses later. Sandy Springs also experienced an increase in violent crime last year, which correlates with national trends showing increases in homicides, aggravated as-


saults and other violent crimes from 2019 to 2020. Homicides, aggravated assaults and gun assaults all rose beginning in late May and June of 2020, according to a report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice. The commission was formed by the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington D.C., and aims to “assess the impact of COVID-19 on the justice system.” That report showed a decrease in property and drug crime rates over the first eight months of the pandemic, a trend also present in DPD’s report. For proper-

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ty crimes in Dunwoody, reported burglaries went down from 169 cases in 2019 to 81 in 2020. Larceny went down from 1,684 in 2019 to 1,204 in 2020. Motor vehicle theft went down from 118 reported cases in 2019 to 106 in 2020. Arrests for narcotics dropped from 168 reports in 2019 to 77 in 2020. Three homicides were reported in Dunwoody in 2020, compared to one in 2019. That is the highest number of homicides reported in the city since four in 2010. Eleven rapes were reported in 2020, compared to 8 in 2019. Forty aggravated assaults were reported in 2020 compared to 33 in 2019.

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The only violent crime in the report that decreased from 2019 was armed robbery, down from 25 reports in 2019 to 23 in 2020. Armed robbery reports increased by 56.5% from 2017 to 2018, but have since continued to decline. Domestic calls, which refer to domestic violence or disputes, were up in 2020, rising from 636 in 2019 to 672. Domestic calls decreased from 2016 to 2018, but rose by 12.2% from 2018 to 2019 and continued the upward trend in 2020. In other crime statistics, shoplifting arrests dropped by nearly 50%, from 731 reports in 2019 to 393 in 2020. DUI arrests increased from 64 in 2019 to 79 in 2020,

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continuing an upward trend since 2018. In total, 2020 arrests were down by about 32.8% from 2019.

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Community | 3

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84 Perimeter Center East project approved on condition it sticks to senior-only housing BY SAMMIE PURCELL The City Council narrowly approved zoning for a development that would include age-restricted apartments, but with conditions to ensure the complex would keep its age requirements in the future. At a March 8 meeting, Mayor Lynn Deutsch and Councilmembers Pam Tallmadge, Jim Riticher and John Heneghan voted in favor of the development at 84 Perimeter Center East, at the intersection with Ashford-Dunwoody Road. The property was originally approved as a hotel in 2019, but was revamped in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the hospitality industry. Heneghan said he looked forward to this type of product becoming available to seniors in Dunwoody. “Our community residents are looking for senior living,” Heneghan said. “It’s a housing type we do not have, and I’m looking forward to moving forward with this project.” Three council members — Tom Lambert, Stacey Harris and Joe Seconder — voted against the proposed development, which would include about 225 age-restricted rental housing units and 43,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. Per the conditions approved by the council, developer JSJ Perimeter LLC must apply for a land disturbance permit within two years of the zoning approval, and the city must issue that permit within 30 months of the zoning approval. The council also approved conditions that state the developer must comply with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations for age-restricted housing and must report its occupancy to the city community development director one year after receiving a certificate of occupancy and every two years after that. Council members who voted against the rezoning expressed concern over what options the city would have if the applicant or future owner did not stick to the age-restricted apartments. “We’re not going to tear [the apartments] down,” Harris said. “They’re going to be there. Really, what teeth do we have to enforce the senior housing?” City Attorney Bill Riley said if the complex ends up not adhering to age restrictions, that would be considered a violation of zoning. Riley said there are a number of actions that could be taken in that case, including daily fines or jail time. Harris asked if tax abatements for the development could be taken back if the developer did not adhere to age restrictions. On Feb. 18, the Development Authority approved an “inducement resolution” for the development, offering an estimated tax break of $7 million over 10 years. City Economic Development Director Michael Starling said the Development Authority has not yet entered into a “memorandum of understanding,” or formal agreement, with the developer for the tax break. “One of the things we could do is put in some stipulations that if the senior housing changes over that 10-year period, we could walk back those abatements,” Starling said. “After 10 years, that goes away, we’re out of the picture. But at least [for] those 10 years, we would have a role to play.” Councilmember Tom Lambert, who aso also voted against the zoning, said he has concerns about JSJ Perimeter LLC’s request for a special land-use permit to increase the limit on impervious surfaces like concrete or pavement, which can prevent the absorption of rainwater and cause damage to the environment. “I haven’t been given a compelling reason from the developer that we should waive this requirement of zoning that we have as a city,” Lambert said. “My fear is that if we continue to do this, we’re just going to become a sea of concrete in the Perimeter area. If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it’s the value of outdoor spaces and the value of green space.” John DiGiovanni, a representative of JSJ Perimeter LLC, said the developer has made strides to include more green spaces, rooftop terraces and other outdoor amenities to the development. “From our perspective, the plan we’re presenting today is considerably better,” DiGiovanni said.

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4 | Community

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City Council reviews design concepts for new Chamblee-Dunwoody Road bridge BY SAMMIE PURCELL

sponsible for enhancements.

Nature, the pedestrian experience and an emphasis on public art were the primary characteristics of three possible design concepts for a new Chamblee-Dunwoody



over I-285. The City Council considered the design concepts at a March 8 meeting. The bridge will serve as a southern gateway into the city’s Georgetown neighborhood, and the city’s design efforts will run in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan to add toll lanes along the highway over the coming years. The consulting firm Kimley-Horn has contracted with the city and the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) to come up with design enhancements for three separate bridges along I-285. While GDOT would cover the cost of building the bridge itself, Dunwoody will be re-

The PCIDs will cover features added to two bridges over I-285 on Perime-

along a pedestrian walkway. A railing structure would mimic a natural design, such as leaves or branches.

ter Center Parkway and Ashford-Dun-

“This idea focused around that

woody Road, and is also responsible

granite-and-green theme that runs

for design enhancements to a Mount

through Dunwoody,” said Kimley Horn

Vernon Road bridge over SR 400 in

representative Winston Mitchell.

Sandy Springs, according to KimleyHorn representative Eric Bosman.

The second concept, “The Art Walk,” would focus on showcasing public art

The council first gave input on pos-

in the bridge’s design. In this concept,

sible bridge design enhancements at a

two platforms could be built into a re-

Jan. 25 meeting. At that meeting, the

taining wall so that oncoming traffic

council stressed the need to work with

could see an art installation. This con-

the PCIDs to ensure a uniformity in de-

cept also features a railing that would

sign across all bridges, as well as the

extend beyond the parapet wall. Ac-

importance of prioritizing the pedes-

cording to Mitchell, all the bridg-

trian experience and incorporating as-

es along I-285 have different forms of

pects like greenery and public art.

parapet walls, or a barrier that is an

The first design concept, dubbed

extension of the wall.

the “Granite and Greens concept”

“Using a unified railing that came

by Kimley-Horn, would use granite

down over that and masked that a lit-

as a theme throughout. Preliminary

tle bit would be one approach to unify

sketches and concept examples show

all the bridges in the corridor,” Mitch-

potential shade structures or trellises

ell said.

“Design by committee usually ends up in something pretty horrific from a design standpoint. We want to focus on a general direction and then bring a committee of the whole together before we’re ready to leap into anything final.” Eric Bosman Kimley-Horn representative

The third concept, called “Contemporary Nature,” puts an emphasis on trees surrounding the bridge. This concept applies a textured concrete to the bridge, which would mimic nature and trees. Mitchell said the design also could incorporate planting beds to create places of refuge along the bridge for pedestrians. The council did not come to a decision on which design it would choose, but most council members said they favored the first concept. “I’m leaning towards the first one myself,” Councilmember Pam Tallmadge said. “It has a clean look, fresh with the greenery suggestions and the pillars. But I also like number two.” Bosman said Kimley-Horn has started conversations with the PCIDs about the other bridges, but would like to move towards a work session with both groups in the next month or two to determine a final design direction. “Design by committee usually ends up in something pretty horrific from a design standpoint,” Bosman said. “We want to focus on a general direction and then bring a committee of the whole together before we’re ready to leap into anything final.”


Public Safety | 5

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Local residents urged not to leave firearms in vehicles as thefts rise BY SAMMIE PURCELL

A spokesperson for the Sandy Springs Police Department said despite a decrease in larcenies from cars and a decrease in propLocal police departments are urging residents to stop leaving erty crimes in general last year -- in part due to people staying firearms in their vehicles to halt thefts that already tally about 203 home due to the coronavirus pandemic -- the department saw an between January and late March. increase in the number of firearms stolen from vehicles. AccordAs of March 21, 36 guns had been reported stolen from vehicles ing to daily crime data from the Atlanta Police Department, larcein Brookhaven. As of March 25, 126 firearms have been reported ny from vehicles in general is up 7% in Zone 2 as of March 13 comstolen from vehicles in Atlanta’s Zone 2, which includes Buckhead, pared to that time in 2020. and 31 in Sandy Springs. In Dunwoody, 10 guns had been reported “This ... phenomenon is not exclusive to the city of Sandy stolen from vehicles as of March 25. Springs, but instead seen throughout the metro Atlanta area,” said The Atlanta Police Department is promoting a “Clean Car SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega in an email. Campaign” to urge residents to stop attracting thieves with valuGun thefts from vehicles have been a problem for local police ables left inside vehicles. In Brookhaven, six of the 31 guns stolen departments in the past. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, there were over so far this year were taken from unlocked vehicles and less than 200 reported thefts of firearms, ammo or gun accessories from vehalf of the victims knew their gun’s serial number, according to a hicles in local communities each year. Brookhaven Police Department spokesperson. In a March 3 press “Guns being stolen from vehicles is certainly nothing new,” said release, BPD advised residents to avoid leaving guns in their cars Dunwoody Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Robert Parsons in even if the car is locked, and to keep a list of serial numbers for any an email. “But, generally speaking, anytime a firearm gets into the high-value items, including firearms. hands of a criminal, it is undoubtedly a major concern.” “Once these guns are stolen and in the hands of criminals, and According to 2019 research from Everytown for Gun Safety, a especially when we can’t trace them by serial number, there’s nonprofit that advocates for gun control, between 200,000 and a good chance they will be used to commit other crimes,” said 500,000 guns are stolen from individuals each year in the UnitBrookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura in the release. ed States. Of those incidents, about one-quarter of stolen guns are BPD spokesperson Lt. David Snively said since March 3, no guns taken from cars. Gary Yandura have been taken out of unlocked vehicles and the BPD has seen a According to the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan Brookhaven Police Chief considerably slow down in the number of guns stolen out of cars public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., since that March 3 press release. about 104,578 guns were reported stolen in Georgia from 2012 to “We are encouraged that, where 31 guns were stolen in the first 60 days of the year, 2017, with a total value over $47 million. Only three states had higher numbers: Florijust five have been taken during the 21 days since our initial press release,” he said in da, California and Texas. an email.

“Once these guns are stolen and in the hands of criminals, and especially when we can’t trace them by serial number, there’s a good chance they will be used to commit other crimes.”

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6 | Community

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At vigil for spa shooting victims, speakers recount racism, call for action BY JOHN RUCH A vigil for the victims of recent mass murders at metro Atlanta spas drew about 40 people to Dunwoody’s Brook Run Park March 23 to condemn racism in general and hate crimes against Asian Americans in particular. Speakers ranging from highschool students to the mayor told personal stories of racism, criticized police descriptions of the killings, and called for political action. “Not only did COVID-19 bring disease, but racism as well,” said Madeline Douglas, a Dunwoody High School sophomore, describing a national rise of hate incidents and discrimination against Asian Americans scapegoated by former President Trump and others for the pandemic after the first cases of the disease were reported in China. Douglas described her experiences in learning the reality of racism when classmates discovered her mother is Asian. The vigil, which included a candle-lighting, was organized by Long Tran, a Dunwoody resident who owns the Peachy Corners Cafe in Peachtree Corners. Tran said in an interview that he is working with various Asian American advocacy organizations on rallies and protests related to the spa killings, including one held March 20 at the State Capitol. He said that his customers include students from the neighboring cities of Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Roswell who were unable to travel to such events, so he decided to organize the informal, local vigil and publicize it on Facebook discussion groups. “I own a coffee shop close to here and I get a lot of families [as customers], and I saw a lot of pain this past week,” Tran told the vigil attendees. “What I can best describe as being lost, not knowing what to do, what to say, where to go.” The vigil marked one week after the March 16 shootings at spas in Acworth and Atlanta, where a total of eight people died and one was wounded. Authorities say six of those killed were Asian women, and the others were a White woman and a White man. The victim who survived is a Hispanic man. The sole suspect is a 21-yearold White man named Robert Aaron Long, who remains jailed. Officials from the Atlanta Police Department and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) claim that Long immediately confessed to the killings and denied they were motivated by racism, but rather by a desire to kill people he blamed for his own “sexual addiction.” Authorities say they continue to investigate and have not ruled out any motives, and Long has not been charged with hate crimes. Many advocacy organizations and elected officials have said the killings should be considered hate crimes due to the race of the majority of victims and of the suspect, and as a way of highlighting


Attendees of the March 23 vigil at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody assist each other in lighting candles for the victims of the spa killings.

the rise in anti-Asian bias and attacks. Fueling the controversy were comments by a CCSO captain at a March 17 press conference, who paraphrased Long’s alleged confession as having a “bad day” and who later was revealed to have promoted T-shirts with a joke logo that scapegoated China for the coronavirus. At the Dunwoody vigil, speaker Sabrina Rahim, who is Asian American and Muslim, said that when crimes happen to Asian Americans, “they are minimized. Have you guys noticed that? They are blamed on mental illness and not hate. They are blamed on sexual addiction, not hate. They’re blamed on having a bad day or being at the end of one’s rope. “We can’t let that be the prevailing rhetoric,” Rahim continued. “We can’t let that be the narrative. Let’s take it back. These killings were motivated by Asian hate and dehumanization.” Tran said he has been involved in political responses to some of the pandemic’s acts of anti-Asian bigotry, including a small protest at the Atlanta Chinatown mall in Chamblee and signs posted along I-285 ramps in Dunwoody reading, “Boycott China.” He said he has had customers abruptly leave his cafe immediately after walking in, possibly once they see he is Asian, though he can’t be sure. Dunwoody resident Pat Rudolph told vigil attendees how the recent bigotry affected his family. He said he met his wife in China, where he promised her father to give her a “better life” in America. During the pandemic, Rudolph said, their daugh-

ter, a Chicago resident, was “accosted at the grocery store and yelled at by a stranger for bringing the virus to America.” He said that “besides being angry, my first thought was, ‘I failed them. I lied to her father. This is not the country I wanted to bring them to.’” “The best thing we can do is marginalize people who show hatred. We have to call them out,” said Rudolph. Douglas, whose father is White and whose mother is from Cambodia, said she, too, once believed racism was over. “It’s important to note I look more Caucasian than Asian,” she said. But in middle school, she said, classmates began making racist comments based on her mother. “I never thought to speak up, afraid that I would lose friends or come off as rude,” Douglas said. Douglas said her family is diverse in many ways, with other members who are Jewish and from such countries as China, England and Vietnam. Some are Protestant Christians, some are Buddhists; some are Republicans, some are Democrats. “My mom bought the largest dinner table possible for our house so we can enjoy large family meals. We all have a voice at the table,” Douglas said. “We laugh and enjoy each other’s company and diversity. We may disagree, but there is never a place for prejudice and racism, [and] less of all, hate.” “[While] my family’s far from perfect, the kindness shown around our dinner table could go a long way in today’s society,” said Douglas. In the wake of last year’s historic Black Lives Matter protests, such dinner-ta-

ble-style discussions became a popular method for civic discussions about race and racism. In the neighboring cities of Brookhaven and Sandy Springs, such discussions spawned official government commissions on racial justice, inclusion and diversity that began work this year. Despite early talk from some officials, similar processes have not materialized in Dunwoody. Mayor Lynn Deutsch spoke at the vigil, saying she has some personal understanding of bigotry. “I was a Jewish child in the Deep South, and there was always an awareness that I was different, but I hoped that by now we would be past the point where difference matters,” she said. But as a policy-maker, she said, she struggles with how to “change people’s hearts and sometimes their minds.” She called for people to act as “upstanders,” a term for those who stand up to bullies and bigots popularized by the group Facing History and Ourselves. “What is it going to take to be the community of people who stick up for each other?” she asked. Echoing Douglas’s comments, Deutsch said that “finding a dinner table” is an answer, but the difficulty is shunning those who are racist while welcoming those whose minds could be changed. “How we get to the place where everyone wants to sit at the same table, or most people want to sit at the same table, I think is the biggest question that this country faces in terms of racial hate and just hate in general,” she said. — Joshua Crowder contributed


Arts & Entertainment | 7

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

April Events You Don’t Want to Miss Alan Avery Art Company is hosting an exhibition featuring the work of abstract, minimalist artists Betty Merken and Pascal Pierme, at 356 Miami Circle in Buckhead. The show is titled Fata Morgana after the mirage effect that makes it appear an object is suspended above the horizon. Merken “is a painter and printmaker working with contrasts of color, form, and perception,” while wood sculptor Pierme “incorporates organic material, and geometric forms in a modern aesthetic.” Ends Saturday, April 17. alanaveryartcompany.com The Sandy Springs Recreation and Parks Department is having two events in April, weather permitting, at Morgan Falls Overlook Park at 400 Morgan Falls Road as part of its Wild Explorers program. On Sunday, April 13, at Morgan Falls Dam, “Earth Day Celebration: Renewable Energy” will explore hydroelectric, solar power, and wind energy. On Sunday, April 25, “Heron Rookery Viewing and Bird Craft” will gather at the boat launch at the dam to watch the activities of great blue herons, which nest in groups called rookeries. Loaner binoculars will be available, or you can bring your own. Both events take place from 1 to 3 p.m. and are free with registration through registration. sandyspringsga.gov. ◄ Jerry’s Habima Theatre, a theatrical company featuring actors with special needs, is returning to the stage with a virtual showcase premiering on Thursday, April 29 at 7 p.m. The hour-long event is a combination of musical and dance numbers from some of the group’s most popular shows. All performances will be recorded for availability following the premiere. Jerry’s Habima Theatre is a program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) in Dunwoody. atlantajcc. org/habima ►The Atlanta History Center’s series of author talks continues in April with virtual appearances by Martha Hall Kelly (April 7), Claire Lombardo (April 13), Jonathan Alter (April 15), Elizabeth Nyamayaro (April 26), and David O. Stewart (April 28). The events are free but registration is required. atlantahistorycenter.com The Sandy Springs Farmers Market will kick off April 17 at City Green at City Springs, 1 Galambos Way. The Saturday market’s hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon through Sept. 25, and from 9 a.m. to noon, Oct. 2 through Nov. 30. citysprings.com/farmersmarket ◄ The City Springs Theatre Company’s live production of the ABBA-laden hit musical “Mamma Mia” (replacing the previously scheduled “Into The Woods”) will have a special outside engagement May 7 through 9 at the Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. The theater group usually performs indoors at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center. Tickets go on sale April 1. cityspringstheatre.com The 24th Annual Unsung Heroes Gala will be broadcast live on Saturday, April 17 at 6:45 p.m. The evening is produced by the Buckhead-based National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter. It will “honor and celebrate extraordinary women who empower their communities,” and will showcase Atlanta’s best in entertainment with a philanthropic flair, organizers said. A related silent auction to raise funds will begin on Saturday, April 10 and run until Sunday, April 18. ncbwmac.clubexpress.com

For a full calendar of events, please visit reporternewspapers.net

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8 | Food & Drink

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Food for Thought Savi Provisions’ expansion boom brings a third location to Buckhead BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Savi Provisions is in an expansion boom. The gourmet market group was scheduled to open its third Buckhead location -and fifth overall -- at the AMLI Lenox apartment complex at 3478 Lakeside Drive on April 1 as the Reporter went to press. That’s along with other locations planned in Decaof the city. Our chef-driven, fresh-made meals are paired expertly with tur, the Battery complex at a selection of fine wines and beers, served fresh on tap. Our carefully SPECIAL Truist Park in Cobb Councurated wine and beer selection will have something exciting for evAbove, Paul Nair, owner of the Savi’s Provisions chain. ty, and an out-of-state deRight, a drawing of the “self-pour wall” of beers and wines on tap eryone, from the novice to the expert.” that is planned for the new Savi’s Provisions in Buckhead. but in Tennessee. The Reporter asked Nair about Savi’s growing business and the Savi provides “locallybeers on tap. new location. For more information, see saviprovisions.com. sourced organic foods, fine wines and “We are excited to introduce a freshWhat inspired you to get into this business? spirits alongside healthy and tasty fastly imagined location in Lenox for both I noticed a lack of high end affordable gourmet markets in the South. When we casual meals,” according to owner Paul the immediate community and funcopened our first Savi Provisions, it was intentionally in Inman Park, a wonderful Nair, who named the chain after his tion as an amenity for AMLI residents,” community that embraced us and our vision. wife Savita. The AMLI location, operatsays Patel. “Our space boasts a beautied by franchisee Vivek Patel, will have a What makes Savi different from other similar places? ful interior designed for ease and acpatio with a “self-pour wall” where cusPeople want convenience, but they still respond to interaction and a sense of cessibility in shopping, giving way to a tomers can choose their own wines and community. I wanted to connect convenience with community, one of the reasons I lovely patio space with fantastic views

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Food & Drink | 9

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net crafted the Savi brand after New York’s neighborhood delis. I wanted to offer more than just a place to shop and dine, but a neighborhood destination where customers have the chance to connect. Savi at AMLI will feature a self-pour tap wall with 14 beers, 16 wine options and a variety of spirits. The bar is going to be 100% cardbased so that customers have a lowtouch experience. It will dispense the beer, spirit and wine options via stateof-the-art equipment called Enomatic and provide an extremely convenient option for dine-in, grab-and-go and passersby. You offer franchises. Please explain the concept and what you’re looking for in a franchisee. Apart from its proven success record, Savi also offers high earnings potential with strong potential ROI [return on investment]. You are able to have two businesses with a single investment due to the retail and casual food service component. Since Savi also sells a wide selection of fine wines and spirits, you can also build a loyal following among wine enthusiasts. The Savi franchise system was developed to be incredibly profitable and loaded with goodwill for the community and customer. Attractive franchisees are those that are not only business-minded but value community, as it is imperative that you become an important part of the neighborhood. While there are many types of franchise opportunities available, very few give the owner the chance to make a difference while earning a considerable profit like a Savi Provisions franchise [does]. Why open a second Buckhead location, not far from the first? We saw the demand. Our Buckhead clientele really responds to our concept, and this newest Savi will be a freshly imagined location in Lenox for both the immediate community and function as an amenity for AMLI residents. Vivek comes from an interesting background of healthcare, which is how he became interested in wellness. He decided to dive into the food and nutrition space and a franchise opportunity with Savi provided him the perfect opportunity to combine the two. What are your plans for the future? We are always expanding. We just announced our first market outside of Atlanta — a franchisee location in downtown Nashville. We are excited to bring this Atlanta brand to more of the Southeast in the next year.

Quick Bites |

Restaurant openings and news


►Tabla Indian Restaurant debuted its

second Atlanta location on March 16 at 3005 Peachtree Road inside the Modera building in Buckhead. Owner Sandeep Kothary said in a statement, “I want guests to have the experience of Indian food—the design, service and cocktails. It’s going to be a completely different style of dining from anything people have experienced in the Atlanta area.” Tabla will introduce a series of cocktails unique to the Buckhead location, but until its liquor license is issued, customers can bring their own alcohol.tablaatlanta.com BurgerFi, Chopt Creative Salad Company, Panda Express, and breakfast joint First Watch will all be part of the new Perimeter Marketplace shopping center in Dunwoody, scheduled to open in October 2021 at the corner of Meadow Lane and Ashford-Dunwoody Road. Other announced tenants include Publix, Aspen Dental, One Medical and QuikTrip. “The Dunwoody/Perimeter market has proven to be one of the strongest areas for economic growth in metro Atlanta, even through the ongoing pandemic,” Branch Properties Head of Asset Management Brett Horowitz said in a written statement. BurgerFi is also planning to open a spot at The Prado in Sandy Springs later this year. Burgerfi.com; choptsalad.com; pandaexpress.com; firstwatch.co

will love it as much as I do.” The menu boasts more than 80 teas, frappes, smoothies and sodas. nobichausa.com

Fitlife Foods is getting ready for a July opening in the Tuxedo Festival shopping center at 3655 Roswell Road in Buckhead, featuring “fresh, made-fromscratch, prepared meals” for pick-up or delivery, according to spokesperson Krystin Olinski. Popular dishes include barbecue beef with mac and cheese, chicken enchiladas, pork bulgogi and miso salmon, in addition to crème brulee French toast. Tampa-based Fitlife founder David Osterwell said in a written statement, “The demand for a store in the Atlanta area was overwhelming and we wanted to find a way to make it happen for our incredible Atlanta customers.” eatfitlifefoods.com Nobi Cha Bubble Tea will soon debut its first spot in the United States at 4279 Roswell Road in Buckhead’s Chastain Square shopping center. Owner Lida Turner said in a phone call that the plan is to open 10 to 20 more in the next five years. Turner bought the franchise from a company in Thailand last year. “I’m very confident in our product and our flavor and once people try it they

Willow Bar and St. Julep are two watering holes that have joined “mid-century glam” restaurant The Betty at Buckhead’s Kimpton Sylvan Hotel, located at 374 East Paces Ferry Road. Willow Bar is a garden retreat described as “hip” and “esoteric” while St. Julep features “fresh and easy cocktails, local craft brews, low-octane aperitifs and a selection of funky craveable snacks” plus a weekend DJ spinning records. thesylvanhotel.com The Hungry Peach reopened on March 8 after closing due to the pandemic. There is a new menu with “simple and fresh gourmet brunch and lunch items” as well as a “homey and comfortable” remodel of the cafe located in the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) at 351 Peachtree Hills Ave. in Buckhead. A liquor license is in the works. thehungrypeach.com

▲Banana Leaf Thai + Bar is now open

for business at 227 Sandy Springs Place. “A perfect place where friends and family can enjoy mouth-watering authentic Thai food in a lovely atmosphere,” the website says. “We also feature a full liquor bar, lots of delicious mixed drinks as well as a great wine selection.” bananaleafatl.com

Le Bon Nosh, “an all-day cafe and market celebrating the beauty of simple, seasonal food,” is set to open shortly inside The Irby building at 65 Irby Avenue in Buckhead. An application to serve alcohol was filed by owners with the City of Atlanta in early March. Executive Chef Forough Vakili formerly worked at the twoMichelin-starred restaurant L’Auberge de Glazicks in Brittany. lebonnosh.com

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Q&A: Oakland Cemetery expert discusses famous Buckhead figures buried there BY KEVIN C. MADIGAN Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place of many famous figures of Buckhead’s history. David Moore, director emeritus of the Historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation, will talk about some of them in a free, live-streamed presentation to the Buckhead Heritage Society on April 8 at 7 p.m. For registration and details, see buckheadheritage.com. You’re going to be talking about famous people from Buckhead, some of whom were also notorious. I’m going to do a presentation on Oakland Cemetery that includes a little bit of everything. I’m still doing research on people that have a Buckhead connection and the obvious ones are of course people like [bank and railroad founder] Alfred Austell and [golfer and Masters Tournament co-founder] Bobby Jones, but there are a fair amount of folks whom we could make a stretch and say are infamous. There is some murder and mayhem associated with some of our residents, and everybody loves a good mystery, murder and mayhem story, so I will try to sprinkle those in without necessarily divulging who they are.


David Moore, director emeritus of the Historic Oakland Cemetery Foundation.

Your own family has connections to Buckhead going back a long time. Didn’t a grandfather of yours have a mill on Peachtree Creek? Thomas Moore was my great-great-grandfather, and he came here from Abbeville, South Carolina. He did run a grist and produced lumber, and corn and meal grinded by a millstone. It was there on Peachtree Creek where Moores Mill Road and West Wesley Road exist today. He married a woman named Elizabeth DeFoor. She was the daughter of Martin and Martha DeFoor, who were the recipients of a terrible and brutal murder

in the late 1800s. They had their heads almost chopped off by an assailant while they slept. It’s a Buckhead murder that’s never been solved. Can you give us the gist of the importance of Oakland Cemetery to the history of Buckhead? Oakland pretty much holds the history of our city. Many of the folks who are buried there are pioneers that paved the paths on which we walk today, and even though Atlanta was a very small community when Oakland was founded in 1850 -- there were probably only 2,600 people living in Atlanta at the time -- many of the folks buried there do have connections to the Buckhead community. Some of the more prominent folks had lovely homes along Peachtree Road. They had deep roots in Buckhead, and of course so did [“Gone with the Wind” author] Margaret Mitchell, and there will be others as well. I do want to try and make that Buckhead connection, but as I said, Oakland was the burial ground for everyone. It didn’t matter if you owned the railroad or rode the railroad or slept under the railroad. They even had a section -- the old Slave Square -- that later became a paupers’ ground, so we do have an African American section that was segregated, yet it’s still part of the cemetery as a whole. And there are some people buried in that section that I’m sure have some connection to what we know as Buckhead today. There is a photo of you online sitting in some sort of cart at the cemetery. Can you explain that? The reason I’m sitting in the cart is that I’m an actor -- well, more of a big ham than an actor -- and I’m capturing the spirit of Oakland on our Halloween tours that are designed to enlighten. We have characters we’ve researched that come back to life, and we tell our visitors of their place in Atlanta history, and we have these characters standing, or my case sitting, at or about the gravesite. This particular person was known as the Goat Man; his name was William Jasper Franklin. He was one of those characters just hanging around downtown Atlanta who was often found at the courthouse steps selling pencils. He had meningitis as a kid which is why he couldn’t walk, so he used a cart that was hauled around by a goat named Pete. He became somewhat annoying to some of the politicians because they said his goat smelled bad and he was bothering folks, so they banned him from being on the street. He had quite a following.

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS INSECURITY ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY? “INSECURITY” -- MEANING FEAR THAT THE MONEY WON’T BE THERE? No. In 50 years of advising clients, we find people fear making a mistake when starting their Social Security. Benefits can start at age 62 on a discounted basis. One must be 66 years old to get a full benefit; however, waiting longer to start – as late as age 70 – means increased monthly income. Add to that, a husband or wife can claim benefits independent of their spouse’s decision, and the number of outcomes is almost unlimited. With all those possibilities, small wonder people worry about mistakes. A LOT OF INTERNET ADVICE IS TO START SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS EARLY… That is a dangerous over-simplification. Our Wealth Planning Committee is a group of experienced, multi-credentialled professionals, including attorneys, CPAs, and MBAs who regularly model these numbers. Committee Chairman Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®, says, “There’s no substitute for running the numbers. Every family’s situation is different and the difference between an optimum Social Security decision and a poor decision can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.” IS MODELING THE NUMBERS A “NET PRESENT VALUE” ANALYSIS? The modeling includes that kind of discounting analysis, yes. Most importantly, good modeling should put the Social Security decision in a framework with the other elements of a family’s financial life. Is one spouse continuing to work? Are there other sources of cash flow or financial assets available that would permit delaying the start of benefits? Are there big differences in life expectancy between spouses? The key is solid modeling that considers a variety of “what if” scenarios.

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City Council approves tax and fee incentives to attract businesses BY SAMMIE PURCELL The City Council approved a tax break and fee waiver plan in an effort to incentivize large businesses to come to town at a March 8 meeting. City Economic Development Director Michael Starling first presented the incentive plan at a January council meeting. The plan would mark the first time the city has directly offered incentives to businesses. Starling said Dunwoody has traditionally relied on its location to draw in businesses, but many of its surrounding cities offer abatements on business licenses, permit fees or both. He said vacancy in Dunwoody offices is significantly higher than in some of those cities. According to Starling, vacancy in Dunwoody is at about 24%. For comparison, vacancy in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood is at 16% and in Cobb County’s Cumberland Galleria area is at 14%. The rest of the Perimeter area is about 19%. The city-level plan could be in addition to incentives offered by other state, county and municipal bodies, such as the city’s Development Authority. “We’re entering uncharted territory for office leasing due to COVID-19 and added incentives from the city can make a huge difference,” Starling said. “Especially when they are part of the overall package that may include incentives from the Development Authority, and the state when the company is relocating from outside of Georgia.” The plan would incentivize businesses to come to Dunwoody through means such as expediting the permitting process required for a new business location or expansion. Another incentive would waive business and occupation taxes. According to documents from the meeting, the city would have the opportunity to waive 50% of business license taxes totaling up to $50,000 on an annual basis. The waiver would continue for the entirety of the lease as long as the lease did not exceed 10 years. To qualify for the plan, businesses would have to meet certain criteria, including creating 500 or more full-time positions where at least 75% of those jobs Michael Starling meet the average wage level in DeKalb City Economic Development Director County. Eligible businesses would also have to lease or purchase an office space of 100,000 square feet or more, and if leasing, sign a lease with a minimum 7-year term. Councilmember John Heneghan expressed concern that a developer could receive incentives from both the city and the Development Authority, a quasi-government board that votes on tax break deals with developers. Starling said there would be a possibility for incentives from the plan to be layered with incentives from the Development Authority, but they would be separate entities. He said while tax abatements given to developers are typically passed onto the tenants of those buildings, this new incentive plan would offer incentives directly to the businesses themselves. Starling said businesses that applied for incentives would not be required to come before the council for approval. “It would be more like a permit in that,” he said. “”[That’s] one of the reasons we’ve created such a high bar … we didn’t want to make it too small, that every business in the city could get it.” Starling said an application process has not been set up yet, but now that the plan has been approved the city will begin work on one. Councilmember Joe Seconder suggested the council could still be notified when a business received an incentive, even if it did not have final approval. Mayor Lynn Deutsch agreed with Seconder and asked to include a “sunset clause” that would bring the policy back before the council for evaluation every two years.

“We’re entering uncharted territory for office leasing due to COVID-19 and added incentives from the city can make a huge difference.”


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Work to begin on master plan for I-285 trails paired with toll lanes BY SAMMIE PURCELL

Rough Draft Atlanta

Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and other cities will begin work on a plan for a multi-use trail system to integrate with the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plan to add toll lanes to I-285. At a March 16 Brookhaven City Council meeting, the city approved a contract with design firm Kimley-Horn to begin work on a “Top End 285 Regional Master Trails Plan.” Brookhaven will serve as the project manager, leading other I-285 cities such as Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Doraville, Smyrna and Tucker. The area’s four self-taxing Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) will also help fund the plan. Those districts are the Chamblee Doraville CID, the Cumberland CID, the Perimeter CIDs and the Tucker-Northlake CID. In 2019, Brookhaven and the other cities agreed to issue a request for proposals from design firms for the development of a trail system master plan. Responses to those proposals were due by April 21, 2020 and Kimley Horn’s proposal was chosen. Now that the contract has been approved, Phase 1 of the master plan is expected to be completed by September of this year, according to a city spokesperson. This multi-use trail would serve to connect trails in the seven cities and four CIDs and would cover almost 20 miles from Cumberland Parkway and Atlanta Road in Smyrna to Northlake Parkway and Lavista Road in Tucker. “We’re going to take all of the pre-existing trails and trail plans for all of the municipalities and CIDs, link them all together, and think about how we can use GDOT’s efforts and others along I-285 to really create a united, connected trail,” said Kimley-Horn representative Eric Bosman. Brookhaven led the same group of cities in a bus rapid transit study, which explores adding bus and rail options in conjunction with GDOT’s I-285 Top End Express Lane project. Brookhaven Director of Strategic Partnerships Patty Hansen said the trail would follow along a similar route to the BRT. GDOT plans to add toll lanes along the top end of I-285 and on part of Ga. 400 between Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. The projects have been controversial due to the possible demolition of residential properties and highway entrances added to local streets. Construction on Ga. 400 is expected to start in 2022 and open in 2027. The eastern section of the I-285 toll lane project is also expected to start in 2022 and open in 2028. The western section of the I-285 toll lane project is expected to start in 2026 and open in 2032. As the administrator for the regional trail project, Brookhaven will be responsible for invoicing the other cities and CIDs, Hansen said. Brookhaven will provide $28,261 for its share of funding for the master plan and will collect $196,739 from the other cities. The total cost of the master plan will be $225,000. Mayor John Ernst said that former District 1 DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester previously pledged $100,000 to the master plan project, which the county agreed to. Ernst said the city has not yet received those funds, but according to a city spokesperson, current District 1 Commissioner Robert Patrick is working on moving those funds to the city. “I fully support trail projects,” Patrick said in an email. “My office will be speaking with Brookhaven to confirm the full scope of the Top End Trail System and ensure that there is not overlap between Brookhaven efforts and other efforts in the District. There have been several discussions of trail projects throughout District 1 and my goal is to ensure that my office is strategic with taxpayer dollars and beneficial to all District 1 residents.” Former District 7 Commissioner Kathie Gannon also pledged $30,000 to the project, but the funds did not pass during her term, said Ernst. Current District 7 Commissioner Ted Terry has taken up the mantle and is working on moving those funds. The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved that funding at its March 23 meeting. According to Kimley-Horn documents from the meeting, Phase 1 of creating the master plan will include initial environmental screenings, site visits and preliminary concept designs. Phase 2 would produce a full analysis report, including project maps and diagrams which show aspects such as water and topographic features. Phase 2 would also include meetings with stakeholder groups. Ernst said the city is hoping to move as quickly as possible. According to Kimley-Horn documents, its team will be speaking with GDOT to learn more about the department’s right-of-way acquisition plans for the toll lane project and see where there might be rightof-way that is “usable and accessible based on the current I-285 Express Lane design.” “We’re hoping to use as much GDOT-reserved land as possible,” Ernst said. GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale said GDOT is familiar with the project, but there aren’t yet any details to coordinate. “We will continue to work with municipalities as the plan and study develop,” Dale said.


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Dunwoody Village may get five new restaurants and courtyard ‘entertainment complex’ BY SAMMIE PURCELL Dunwoody Village could be getting five new restaurants and a courtyard with outdoor seating, a movie screen and a concert stage. David Abes of Dash Hospitality Group went before the city’s Development Authority on March 18 with a plan to create a “central entertainment complex” at an open courtyard in Dunwoody Village, a shopping and retail center at 1317 Dunwoody Village Parkway. The courtyard in question sits next to a Fresh Market at 5515 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. Abes said he has been working on developing the courtyard for about twoand-a-half years. The plan would outfit the space with seating and a stage area to host events like concerts, farmers markets and festivals. Abes also plans to open up five new restaurants surrounding the courtyard. “We really want to spruce it up and make it look like this is the place where [residents] can come and read the newspaper, meet friends, do that whole thing,” Abes said. “Make it look like, ‘Wow this is a cool spot. I want to go hang out in Dunwoody Village.’” Abes said he came to the DDA, a government body which gives out tax abatements for real estate projects, because of the community aspect of the project. “This is a common area for all of Dunwoody,” Abes said. “Whether you come to one of the restaurants, or you’re just walking by and want to hang out – that’s why I went to the city of Dunwoody for this.” Last November, the City Council approved a rezoning meant to remake the entirety of the Dunwoody Village area around Chamblee-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon roads into a mixed-use and more pedestrian centered complex. Tailored specifically to the area, the Dunwoody Village Overlay is a special zoning district which includes provisions designed to encourage the development of larger, modern structures, as well as more pedestrian use. For example, new developments would be required to update sidewalks and automobile-centric businesses, like drive thrus or gas stations, are not allowed. Back in April of 2020, the authority discussed what to do with its then $800,000 plus bank account. At that time, the possibility of supporting development in Dunwoody Village came up, with Economic Development Director Michael Starling noting the city’s interest in developing the area. The total cost for the restaurant portion of the project would be about $3 million. Abes asked the DDA for a grant of $160,000 to cover outdoor furniture, an outdoor screen and speakers, and a covered stage. Abes said the outdoor stage would not be built until the second phase of the project, so the first phase of DUN`

funding would focus on furniture and the outdoor screen set up. The furniture is estimated to cost $40,000 while the screen and speakers are at an estimated $60,000. Development authorities are barred from simply giving away funds, said the authority’s attorney, Dan McRae, but they can make a bargain through a “memorandum of understanding.” “Out of this we will have to have a bargain. We will have to have a document to evidence the bargain,” McRae said. “Something that can be proven it was done and that the public received the benefit of … one structure or another has to be built into that MOU.” The DDA tacitly approved the process to begin negotiating a memorandum of understanding, or a formalized agreement issuing the funds, and seemed enthusiastic about the project. However, members stressed the importance of the real estate investment company Regency Centers’ cooperation as well as the investment of the city. Regency Centers owns Dunwoody Village and the courtyard while the city owns some of the surrounding roadways. Starling said this project could help jumpstart a city plan to improve

walkability through Dunwoody Village, but Regency Centers would have to be involved in an equal capacity. “If this moves forward, the Development Authority is making a fairly significant investment in this site,” Starling said. “The city would then make our investment in our roads and our sidewalks, and then we go to Regency and say, you need to do your part as well.” “We’re all for finding the right opportunity to help enhance the center, as well as the community that surrounds it,” said a Regency Centers spokesperson in an email. “There is still a great deal of planning and consideration around an appropriate and phased approach that needs to happen given the taxpayer funding being discussed.” The project is expected to be completed in three phases. Abes said the first is expected to finish later this year sometime between September and November. It would include the opening of a “community wine, craft beer and whiskey bar” called Bar(n), according to Abes’ presentation. Bar(n) would be situated on the far side of the courtyard closer to Dunwoody Village Parkway, and will have a rustic design with indoor and outdoor

seating and a food menu that features charcuterie and small plates. Abes said the outdoor screen should be set up in the courtyard by the first phase, as well as a temporary stage. Abes said the first phase has the most concrete timeline. The goal is to complete the second phase by 2022 along with two restaurants, Morty’s Meat Supply and Cuco’s Cantina. Morty’s and Cuco’s would be across the street from Bar(n), but closer to the DunwoodyChamblee Road side of the courtyard. Abes said the goal is to have a permanent stage for the courtyard by the second phase. Morty’s Meat Supply is described in presentation documents as a “Northmeets-South BBQ experience,” while Cuco’s Cantina would serve Mexican street food. The third phase is hoped to be completed by 2023 and would include the final two restaurants, Yoffi and Message in a Bottle, both situated to the right of Bar(n). Yoffi would offer Mediterranean street food, while Message in a Bottle is described as an upscale seafood restaurant.


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Girl skateboarder ‘Army’ rolls at Brook Run Continued from page 1 But on March 7, the park looked a little different. Sandy Springs resident Jennifer Finnell and others helped put on a girlsonly skate contest, and tons of girls came out to prove they could skate just as well as the boys. Girls of all ages participated in contests, skated their way across ramps and down hills, won prizes and danced to a punk band. The event was partly put on by “Skateboard Girl Army,” a club founded by Finnell and with almost 1,800 followers on Instagram. The Army isn’t tangible. It doesn’t have a headquarters. It doesn’t have a training facility. It doesn’t have a rigorous training schedule or a dues structure. It’s a community, and the Army’s mission is simple: teach girls how to skate and make sure they’re part of that community. “Girls, we help mold the planet just like the boys do,” said Finnell, 45, who is affectionately known as the skatepark mom at Brook Run. “This sport, … girls can do it just as well as the boys can.” The city contracts out ownership of the park annually, allowing those with skating knowledge to run day-to-day operations, according to Dunwoody Recreation Program Supervisor Rachel Waldron. Entry is free, so bikers and skaters mill in and out as they please. Ozzie Giles, who took over the contract for the park in January of 2020, said he operates the park’s large, main building as a

hangout of sorts. ParkSkateboarding goers can buy drinks, -- associated with snacks or even an ice bruises, skinned cream on a particularknees, and such faly hot day. Giles offers mous pros as Tony skateboard lessons, or Hawk -- has long skaters can spend their been a male-domdowntime perusing inated sport. Popboards for sale. There ularized by male are couches for loungsurfers in Califoring, games for playing nia in the early -- it’s somewhere the 1970s, it took womkids that frequent the en skateboarders park can just “chill.” awhile to find their Outside, boys of stride. Progress has all ages with beat-up been made over bikes and well-worn the years -- from skateboards glide easfamed skateboardily over the park’s ers Jen O’Brien and SPECIAL rough concrete hills. A Cara-Beth BurnSkateboard Girl Army founder bowl that skaters drop side pushing ESPN Jennifer Finnell. down into looks mento include women’s acing, like a giant empty swimming pool, skating in the X Games in the early 2000s, to but they breeze in and out of it easily. Someboycotting the 2005 X Games and winning times they fall, but they just get back up. No equal pay in 2008, to Samarria Brevard besweat. coming the first professional African AmerBut, right in the middle of all those boys, ican woman skateboarder to sign with a you’re just as likely to see Finnell giving a major skate brand in 2018. skateboard lesson. As the sun dips lower Finnell began skating regularly when and school lets out, more girls might start to she was 37. She used to be married to a appear. You may see Finnell give a high-five, skateboarder, and when her former stepor offer a hug, or induct a new girl she meets son became interested in the sport, she deinto the Army. cided to give it a shot. She still remembers

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the exact day skateboarding became more than a hobby: Dec. 24, 2012 -- the day she went down the smallest hill at the park. Finnell quickly became known as the skatepark mom, or “Mama Jenn.” For her day job she works as a hairdresser, but has a side business called Finnell Grip, which sells griptape -- a material that secures your feet to the skateboard -- and spends copious amounts of time at the park giving lessons. But last year, Finnell and all other skaters had to stop visiting the park when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Dunwoody closed the park to limit the spread of the virus, and it wouldn’t open back up until June 15, 2020. Despite everything, Finnell said the Army only grew. When the park opened up in the summer, she said she felt like everywhere she turned, there was a new girl talking about how she picked up a board for the first time during the pandemic. Her theory? The ability to practice without an audience. “A lot of times, the girls feel very timid and intimidated,” she said. “They were able to skate at their house, practice, and then have the confidence to come out to the park. It was like the pandemic gave them some time to do something without judgment.” That’s what 11-year-old twins Noemi and Isabella Mandel did. The pair began skating during the pandemic, practicing their technique by flying down the hill in their neighborhood. Once they felt comfortable with a bigger crowd, they decided to give Brook Run a shot. “You see all of these people that are so good, and then it’s your first time skateboarding,” Noemi said. “So it’s kind of scary.” But not scary enough to stop them. The twins picked up skateboarding as their sport of choice for that scary, slightly offkilter factor to begin with. It wasn’t an “ordinary” sport, like soccer or basketball or baseball. It required a bit of extra gumption. “It’s not limited,” Isabella said. “It’s skateboarding -- you can’t think inside the box. You could do so many different tricks.” Lily Lubin, 10, who also started skateboarding during the pandemic, said the thought of skating in front of people made her nervous and it took her a long time to work up the courage. But, eventually her nerves ebbed. A few weeks ago, she dropped into the skating bowl from the 6-foot marker for the first time, and participated in the girls skate competition on March 7. “Once you start skateboarding, there’s eventually that moment where you just feel it click,” she said. “And you don’t want to ever stop skateboarding.” Lily said when she heard about the army, she knew it was something she wanted to be part of. “I thought it was really cool because there’s not as many girl skaters as boy skaters,” she said. “Now I’m trying to inspire girls to do that too. Finnell said she hopes the girls keep taking what they learn from the army and applying it to everything in their life. After all, she says, skateboarding isn’t that different. “You may eat it. You’re going to fall, and you’re going to have to get back up,” Finnell said. “That’s the way of life. Fall, get back up.”


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Possible expansion of master-plan zoning stirs neighborhood concerns Continued from page 1 person Jennifer Boettcher, “Project Renaissance,” an urban redevelopment plan covering about 36 acres encompassing the Georgetown area of Dunwoody, was zoned to the PD district. Project Renaissance includes Pernoshal Park and Georgetown Park, and has two residential sections. About 2.5 acres have been designated for commercial use in the development, where at one point there were plans for a food hall. Boettcher said the development’s commercial section is still on the market. In a regular zoning or rezoning process, applicants would go before the Dunwoody Planning Commission, which would then make recommendations to the City Council about whether to approve the zoning. In the simplest of cases, the council would then approve or reject the zoning. The Planning Commission and city staff can also recommend approval subject to conditions that the applicant must follow through on, such as a building not exceeding a certain height or limiting the types of commercial establishments there could be at a certain site. The applicant can also ask to bypass the zoning code by requesting a variance. Those variances must go before a separate board, the Zoning Board of Appeals. That opens up the possibility of situations where the City Council approves a rezoning, but the ZBA shoots down associated variances. The PD District is a bit different. Applicants who apply to be zoned for the PD district must apply with an Overall Development Plan (ODP) already in place. That requires the applicant to have a much more detailed plan at the beginning of the process, which must include items like parking analysis, a tree plan, expected gross land areas, and anything else deemed necessary by city staff. If the ODP conflicts with the zoning code, the ODP governs. Variances would be addressed in the ODP, so the development would not have to go before the ZBA, just the City Council. By broadening the land requirements for the PD district, more developments would qualify and would not have to go before two boards during the zoning process.

DHA and Planning Commission

At the DHA meeting, Grossman said the PD district was implemented with multiuse and retail developments in mind and originally the land size requirement for these developments was at least 10 acres. Since Dunwoody became a city, that land requirement lessened to 5 acres, and now the city’s Planning Commission is recommending 1.5 acres. “When the city started, we put a provision in the zoning code that would enable for a Planned Development that didn’t fit our rules,” said Grossman. “We wanted to be open to new ideas and proposals, so we had that in the code so that we could entertain something that didn’t fit our comprehensive plan.” DUN`

“I’m worried it will open [the PD district] up for abuse,” Grossman said of the change. “As opposed to what we originally envisioned, which was a 10-acre minimum.” The Planning Commission recommended the suggested changes to the PD district at a March 9 meeting. Planning and Zoning Manager Paul Leonhardt said part of the reasoning for decreasing the land requirement was to streamline the zoning process. Leonhardt said 84 Perimeter Center, a multi-use project that includes age-restricted apartments, was one of the developments that brought forth the desire to change parameters for the PD district. The City Council recently approved 84 Perimeter Center for rezoning, but with 27 zoning conditions. “This is a trend we’re seeing … all throughout metro Atlanta, where every single year there are more zoning conditions added,” Leonhardt said. Originally, staff recommended the land requirement for the PD district be lowered to one acre, but the Planning Commission increased that to 1.5 in its recommendation. In trying to streamline the process, the Planning Commission also recommended it have up to three 30-day deferrals for any PD district cases so it could have enough time to thoroughly review the project before the proposal went to the City Council. Currently, the Planning Commission can only defer a matter once for 30 days. Jared Abram was the only Planning Commission member who voted against the recommendation. He said he thought too many deferrals at the commission’s level might delay the process, not streamline it. “When we have developers come into Dunwoody and they have a great project, it’s our duty to give our opinion … and to pass it on,” Abram said. “I don’t think we need to delay it a certain amount of time, because when you delay it too many times then sometimes they will take that project elsewhere.” Abram said the acreage had nothing to do with his vote against the recommendation. “I understand the interest in speeding up the process and making it more businessfriendly,” Grossman said at the DHA meeting. “But, at heart, we’re a homeowners’s organization trying to protect the neighborhoods, and keep the single-family detached neighborhoods as protected as possible. I’m a little nervous about encroachment when we start allowing one-acre planned developments.” Councilmember Tom Lambert, who attended the March 14 DHA meeting, said the city is considering taking a “wholesale look” at its zoning code. “I think this is a part of the clean-up process,” Lambert said. Possible changes to the zoning code were discussed at the City Council’s annual retreat, but according to a city spokesperson, a comprehensive zoning code rewrite is not in this year’s budget and is a longer-term plan.

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Commentary / Acts of violence reveal need for equity in education The recent acts of violence against Asian and African Ameri- dermined with the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Fergucans have made it clear that -- as parents and educators -- it’s time son and the passage of Georgia’s first Jim Crow law in 1890. For the for a genuine conversation about racial and educational inequi- next 60 years, Jim Crow laws legally defined all matters of public ty. Often amid tragic circumstances, we miss opportunities to ex- life in the South, including schools. Even after the Brown v. Board plore root causes. Despite the horrible situations, perhaps these of Education decision, school segregation continued in Atlanta unrecent events can spark real action in our community. Working til 1972. together toward racial and educational equity, we can hope to creLegally sanctioned redlining in the 1930s via President Roosate a better and just Atlanta for all. evelt’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation created Atlanta’s residenIn my role as Chief Equity and Social Justice Officer of Atlan- tial demographic patterns, with more affluent white communities ta Public Schools, I collaborate with stakeholders to ensure equi- living in the north above Interstate 20 and poorer African Amerity among all students. I hear and understand parents’ beliefs and can communities living in the south and west of I-20. concerns. Some are concerned that equity could mean their chilAnti-literacy laws, legal segregation and racial violence have dren will have opportunities taken away as we provide greater ac- had profound impacts on the economic mobility and educational cess for all children. Others are concerned about a lessening of ed- options available to people of color, particularly to African Amerucational quality. I understand how difficult it icans within our city. Since slavery, African may be to share these concerns, especially in Americans have been playing catch-up with the thick of race-based, hate-filled violence. their white counterparts in all areas, especialIt is important to me for concerned parents ly education. to know that I don’t take their concerns as racConsider today when Atlanta stands as the ist statements. I, too, am a parent and undermost income-disparate city in the nation: stand that all parents only want what’s best for our children. Equally as important is that ■ Current census data shows that the we all push beyond the barriers built through median household income within Atlanta Pubgenerations of misinformation. lic Schools is $167,087 for white students and As an educator, I recognize that the great$23,803 for Black students est remedy against fear is knowledge. To elim■ Roughly 75% of APS students live in inate fears that surround equity, it’s vital that low-income situations and research shows we have a clear understanding of what it is that a child born into poverty in Atlanta has a and how it differs from equality. 95.5% chance of remaining in poverty. Equity is when each student gets what they uniquely need to succeed. It’s different from This context and data are not to suggest equality, which treats everyone the same withthat APS can fix all of our societal problems, out addressing the root causes of disparity and or that APS owns all of the work to be done. SPECIAL ignores the reality that each child is different. However, we are going to do our best to own Tauheedah Baker-Jones is the Equity differs in that it ensures all children what is ours. Chief Equity and Social Justice get what they need. It should also be stated that achieving eqOfficer of Atlanta Public Schools. As we begin to understand the true meanuity does not mean taking anything from anying of equity, we also must accept that racial one nor does it mean lowering the quality of and educational inequities exist and understand that they are the education. It means giving ALL students what they need. result of historic policies and practices that have disenfranchised Ultimately, equity is not a zero-sum game. At its core, our eqlarge sections of our community for generations. uity work is about recognizing that in Atlanta there are real ceilFor example, the 1854 California Supreme Court ruling in Peo- ings hindering children from receiving the promise education is ple v. Hall stated that people of Asian descent could not testify supposed to provide. Some may not believe in what we say, but we against a white person in court, thereby establishing a legal man- need everyone to believe that when we say all children, “All means date protecting perpetrators of violence against Asian Americans ALL.” and substantiating anti-Asian sentiments to this day. While we all play a role in fixing inequities, there is no simple During slavery, laws were passed forbidding African Ameri- “to-do” list that will make it all better. We must do the work. Equity cans from learning to read, write and educate themselves. In Geor- for all requires participation by all. The effort is by you, the effort gia, these anti-literacy laws were so strict that failure to comply is for you, the effort is with you. When ALL of our students are valwas punishable by death. At the end of slavery, African Americans ued, affirmed and supported, our entire city will succeed. across the South enrolled in schools, only to have these efforts un-

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Commentary | 17

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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@ reporternewspapers.net

A Dunwoody mural artist finds joy in American ‘Daydreaming’ Diana Toma jokes that her first words were, “Can I have a pet to draw?” “I think I got the pet,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t know.” She no longer even remembers what kind of pet it was. But the drawing part of her story rings true. Toma says that when she was a little girl, she sketched all the time. Everything around her seemed interesting and something she needed to capture in the pages of her notebook. “I was never bored because I had paper and pencil,” she said. Constant practice pays off. Toma says that by the time she had finished kindergarten – yes, kindergarten -- her teacher suggested she pursue a career as an artist. But all that was a long time ago and far away. Toma’s 46 now. She’s living in a different country from the one she grew up sketching, is a single mom of two children, and – after unfulfilling side trips into other careers -- makes her living selling paintings and teaching others to paint, including through classes at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. One of her works soon could become one of the most visible public paintings in Dunwoody. The Dunwoody Arts Commission recently chose her painting “Daydreaming” as the design for a 9-by-24-foot mural to be painted on an outside wall at the entrance to the center at 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road. The brightly colored design shows a child surrounded by, and presumably daydreaming about, things from nature. Toma says those kinds of images weren’t always things that populated her art. She was born in Romania and was a teenager during Romania’s 1989 revolution, when that country joined the wave SPECIAL of eastern European naDiana Toma. tions shaking off Communist control – or, as she describes it now, “when the Soviet bloc broke into pieces.” The revolution made a huge difference in Toma’s life. She remembers, for instance, that her parents, both engineers, were trapped at work during the uprising. “It was really scary for someone my age,” she said, “but it also was very exciting – the overall energy.” One big change following the revolution, she said, was that the college of art in her hometown reopened after being closed for years. She signed up. During her student years, Toma thought of herself as a conceptual artist whose work tackled serious subjects. “That was the thing, the cool thing,” she said. “It was a little bit … on the sinister side.” But once she graduated, she found conceptual art didn’t pay the bills. She tried her hand at graphic design. At the time, eastern European artists were drawing commissions from companies in western Europe and the U.S,, in part because the easterners worked cheaply. Toma started working for Americans, ended up marrying one, and about 15 years ago, she moved to the U.S. She started out in New York, living and working in trendy Brooklyn. “New York was exciting, but was too expensive,” she said. About 10 years ago, she saw an article promoting Atlanta as a good, cheap place for artists, so she and her then husband moved south. The marriage lasted only a few more years. Toma suddenly found herself divorced, unhappy, a long way from home and doing work she didn’t like to make money. “I thought to myself, ‘If I had to be in another country and be a single mom with kids, I just have to do something I love.’ [At] rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” She started using her watercolors and oils to paint brighter things: flowers, animals, portraits of people. She found a job teaching at the Spruill Center and found the classroom a natural fit. “I love to teach. I love so much to teach,” she said. “I became a better artist. Because I was doing research for my classes. I was doing demonstrations. … You think you have to know it to teach it, but it’s the other way around. By doing, you’re learning.” She learned to focus on the joy in what she was doing. Now, “it feels like I’m giving back to this country that sort of changed who I am.” One particular piece that’s giving back, the Spruill mural, “is close to my heart [because] the Spruill is where it started.” “I can’t believe I’ve been doing all these things,” she said. “I didn’t even know this world existed. … I never thought this was going to be my life. I thought I would have a typical Romanian life. Now I have two ex-husbands and a career in art. I’m here and it’s fine.”

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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 worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

Hospitalization can be frightening, especially for children. So, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta employs a special team whose job is to make the experience less so. The most popular members of the team do their job without saying a word. That’s because they’re the fourlegged members of Canines for Kids at Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the DunwoodyChildren’s. Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire Founded in 2009, Canines others. for Kids at her at worthknowingnow@gmail.com. Contact Children’s is composed of 14 dogs and their primary handlers, backed by five secondary handlers. The handlers are all medical professionals whose work is enhanced by the presence of their dog. Everybody, including the dogs, is a hospital employee. Most of the dogs are golden retrievers, Labs and Labradoodles -- all known for their intelligence and friendly, gentle dispositions. As hospital staff, the dogs are not “therapy dogs,” but rather specially trained “facility dogs.” Therapy dogs are volunteer visiting dogs, certified by a variety of organizations based on their temperament and behavior, who along with their unpaid volunteer owners, make brief non-clinical visits to patients and staff. Facility dogs, in contrast, work alongside professional healthcare providers, who in Canines for Kids at Children’s are mostly child life specialists. Their specialized training enables them to visit paSPECIAL tients in almost all areas of the hospital, Bella and her primary handler including those not eligible for therapy and partner, Canines for Kids dog visits. Program Coordinator Kara Klein. The Canines for Kids program coordi-


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Canines comfort kids at Children’s Healthcare According to Canine Assistants Founder Jennifer Arnold, instead of traditional behavioral dog training that relies on commands and rewards, Canine Assistants dogs are taught through “bondbased learning/exercises … how to manage their own behavior and not rely on directives from a human handler.” Essentially, the dogs bond so closely with their human they model human behavior, such as how to climb on a patient’s bed without disturbing the maze of tubes and wires. But how specifically do the dogs make a difference? Klein recalls one case of an 8-year-old girl who refused to leave her room because of the way she looked after facial surgery. “When I said let’s take Bella outside to go potty,” said Klein, “she left her room for the first time in two days.”

Patients’ parents tell similar stories.

nator is Kara Klein, previously a full-time child life specialist. In 2010, she and her facility dog Bella, a golden retriever, became the second dog-handler pair to join the program. Klein says facility dogs are an especially good fit for child life specialists, whose job is to help patients cope, heal and achieve treatment goals while at the hospital. “The dogs help with reducing anxiety, providing distraction, modeling what a patient might see or experience and medical play like listening to the dog’s heart or putting on a bandage,” she said. Now age 12, Bella has lived with Klein since she joined the program. She still goes “to work” every day but is reducing her workload as she ages. Even though Klein considers Bella “her” dog, she is technically owned by Canine Assistants of Milton the organization where she was born, raised and trained. “We don’t choose the dog,” said Klein. “Canine Assistants chooses the dog after meeting the handler and learning their needs.” Bella and Klein, like all the dog-handler teams in the program, are “bonded,” thanks to the Canine Assistants training philosophy.

Diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia at just 15 months, Maddie Dukes, now age 4, has been in and out of Children’s Healthcare’s Scottish Rite hospital in Sandy Springs for most of her life. After undergoing a bone-marrow transplant, she was having trouble getting out of bed for her necessary walking therapy. But facility dog Tidings motivated her to get up and walk around the floor holding his leash. “The joy, comfort and love these dogs give to the kids at Children’s is just the medicine they need. Maddie instantly felt better after a dose of Ty,” said her mother, Kristen. For some patients, facility dogs have made the difference during the pandemic. Born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, brother and sister Malachi and Lexie Delaney have had more than 100 surgeries at Children’s and depended on the many activities normally offered. When those were shut down because of COVID-19, the Canines for Kids dogs became more important than ever. “The facility dogs have bridged the gap our family has felt the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the siblings’ mother, Amy. “The dogs remind [our children] of life before the pandemic and provide the sense of calm and comfort that leads to their healing.” Canines for Kids and Canine Assistants are 100% donor-financed. For information, go to https://www.choa.org/donors-and-volunteers/canines-for-kids or https://www.canineassistants.org.


| 19

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BY MARK WOOLSEY Going outside for exercise or just a walk around the block were some of the ways metro Atlantans broke the monotony of pandemic life during the past year. Many also swarmed to the mountains and North Georgia’s state parks. It’s an uptick that started after last spring as some COVID-19 restrictions were eased and has continued unabated across the 84-thousand-acre system. “Crazy” is how Brad Gibson, the manager at hugely popular Cloudland Canyon State Park in Dade County, described the months since the pandemic began. Park rangers and employees worked to keep parkgoers social distanced, volunteers counted cars, and many day users were turned away. “We never really had a slow month,“ Gibson said. As of St. Patrick’s Day, he related “I’ve had the ‘full’ sign up at the campground since the first weekend in March and I don’t see it slowing down until early May.” The same holds true at high-traffic Tallulah Gorge State Park near Clarksville. Assistant manager Lieren Merz said ranger programs, guided hikes and even the park’s annual Easter Egg Hunt were canceled or curtailed last year. They hope to inch toward normal in 2021. Still, she said, “It’s been a struggle to keep up with the crowds and litter.” The Georgia Department of Natural Resources said for the period from July 2020 to March 15 of this year, almost 8 million guests have made their way to parks statewide. That’s up about 2.4 million visitors over last year, or around 37 percent. That’s lot of tent stakes driven and campers and RVs backing into parking spots. “We are happy to share the state parks with new visitors,” said Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Kim Hatcher. “We just want people to have a good time at the parks and socially distance.” To that end, Hatcher said those visiting park offices, museums and other indoor areas are strongly encouraged to wear masks, while accommodations and common areas are getting thoroughly sanitized. Boating, golf, hiking, biking, kayaking, disc golf, and most other outdoor activities are going forward this year, said officials. In a broader sense, however, park programming has entered a new era. Visitors will find there’s much more to do than hike or crawl into a sleeping bag as recreational options have mushroomed recently. “We were getting people to fill out surveys a few years ago.” said Heath Carter, vice president for sales and marketing with Coral Hospitality. They operate several parks under contract with the state including Amicalola and Unicoi state parks and the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. “People were telling us they loved the parks but that there was nothing to do.” Carter said he and the staff were puzzled by that. “We found out that they wanted programmed events. They might not have a fly-fishing rod or bow and arrow, but they wanted guidance and instruction. So, we supply the gear. All they have to do is sign up.” Ziplines are the biggest attractions at both parks, he said. Add to that a somewhat eclectic list including tomahawk throwing, survivalist camps, live fishing classes, 3D ar-

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Continued from page 20 chery, paddle boarding and air rifle shooting. In addition, some facets of the parks have seen a makeover in the past year or so, with more due to come. Cabins have been renovated at Red Top Mountain State Park. The beach is also getting a makeover at the nearly 1,800-acre park on Lake Allatoona, as are campground facilities. At Cloudland Canyon, a needed update to showers and restrooms is on the horizon. Kiss those old square-block buildings goodbye. Air conditioning and heat are being added to the park’s yurts. Power capacity is being beefed up at campsites. At Tallulah Gorge, dozens of parking spaces have been added at the interpretive center. In the digital space, park officials have added an online retail store and a statewide equestrian pass. And that’s just for 2020-2021. More yurts, dog-friendly cabins, expanded mountain biking trails and expansions to park stores have all happened the last few years. Hatcher suggests those wanting to visit the mostly-heavily used state parks come early in the day or on a weekday, so as not to be turned away from day-use areas or told to wait on entering trails. A recent Monday visit to Amicalola Falls brought home that advice. The park had a leisurely feel, almost small-townish. A short hike up past a reflecting pond on the approach trail quickly revealed the brawling, tumbling falls themselves, the third highest cascading falls east of the Mississippi. Moseying toward the spectacle were Larry and Carol Crewey of Gainesville. “This is just wonderful,” said Carol Crewey, who said they’d already been to Tallulah Gorge this spring. “These little outdoor trips and adventures have been a lifesaver for us this past year.” A first-time visitor from Atlanta, Alex Nickelson, said he and his partner had just finished walking upstairs adjacent the falls, then taking another trail bending them back gradually toward the visitors’ center. “It was strenuous,” he chuckled. “They do warn you – twice.” Tallulah Falls also gets some aqua-love for its stair walk down into the 1,000-footdeep gorge and a half- dozen falls. The namesake canyon at Cloudland Canyon is a dramatic wonder with rocky and tree-bedecked views into parts of Tennessee and Alabama. A staircase leads down to a stream and two gorgeous falls at the bottom. And don’t miss the overlook. “It gives you a sense of how big and massive things are when you get up there,” said

Gibson. Vogel State Park, established in 1931 and the second oldest in the system, is one that plays big. It sits at the foot of Blood Mountain, the highest summit on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. It has an extensive trail system that includes a challenging 13-mile back-country route and is centered on a placid lake. And don’t forget other North Georgia parks like Don Carter, Fort Mountain, Black Rock Mountain, and Smithgall Woods. All of them feature woodsy walks, glimpses of wildlife and breath-catching vistas and some are less visited, so you’re less likely to run into thousands of your best friends, And what’s not to like about a mere $5 parking fee to enter? (But keep in mind that some activities will require digging deeper into the wallet). It may not be easy for park employees handling the crowds and strain on facilities, but visitors like Nickelson are quick to give them a thumbs-up. “I’ve never been here before,” he said, “but I’ve been to a lot of state parks and I like it. It’s very clean and I didn’t feel unsafe walking up the stairs, which is a good thing.” And he added, “I just love waterfalls.” Cloudland Canyon

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24 | Special Section

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Big Canoe thrives during pandemic, has waiting list for homes BY COLLIN KELLEY If you need further proof that the real estate market barely blinked during the pandemic, then look no further than Big Canoe: there’s a waiting list for homes in the private mountain community. Situated between Jasper and Dawsonville about an hour north of Atlanta, Big Canoe usually has anywhere from 200 to 250 homes on the market at any given time. As of mid-March, there were only 19 available. “It’s so amazing,” Big Canoe’s general manager Scott Auer said. “Realtors have waiting lists. As soon as a home goes on the market, there are multiple offers in 24 hours.” Auer said the pandemic is to blame. “COVID-19 has changed how we live and do business,” Auer said. “The pandemic has made people rethink their priorities and they want to be somewhere that has a small town feel and offers security.” To that end, the 8,000 acre Big Canoe now has some of the fastest internet speeds in the country, its own fire department, and round-the-clock gated security. And, of course, there’s the stunning mountain views and amenities galore. Auer said Big Canoe is spending $6 million on capital improvements in 2021, including renovations

to the golf course and tennis courts, a new bocci facility, and plans to turn older buildings in the community into meeting spaces. Big Canoe was also serious about keeping its residents safe from COVID-19, going above and beyond the state’s recommendations. “We locked arms and said the safety of our property owners and employees was the most important issue, so we put some stringent guidelines in place including mask mandates.” While the community might have lost some day-users of its amenities, Auer said, but safety above profits was the guiding principle during the height of the pandemic. He said a partnership with Northside Hospital and an active group of volunteers in the community also helped residents do everything from pick up groceries to taking neighbors to doctor’s appointments. He said Big Canoe residents have also been proactive about getting the vaccine.

Auer said Big Canoe would relax its pandemic protocols slowly but was already moving toward mask-optional times at its gyms, offering more outdoor dining options at the clubhouse, and is hopeful that

the big 4th of July fireworks display will be on the calendar. “What we really need is more houses,” a delighted Auer said.


470-602-9693 Grace.Battle@evrealestate.com

APRIL 2021

Special Section | 25



Your Trusted Advisor In Blue Ridge

662 EATON ROAD offered for $3,200,000

304 DEER WATCH LANE offered for $850,999

653 KENSINGTON DRIVE offered for $749,000

3794 ZION HILL ROAD offered for $2,800,000

436 GERONIMO ROAD offered for $1,575,000

174 DEER WATCH LANE offered for $1,200,000

475 TOCCOA RIVER LANE offered for $1,000,000

629 EATON ROAD offered for $730,000

401 TRAILWOOD DRIVE offered for $579,900

Kim Knutzen REALTOR®

c: 770.402.1908 o: 706.613.HOME KIM@ANSLEYRE.COM GUIDETOBLUERIDGE.COM 706.613.HOME | ANSLEYMOUNTAINS.COM | 116 WEST MAIN ST. UNIT 1C, BLUE RIDGE, GA 30513 Christopher Burell, Principal Broker. Information believed accurate but not warranted. Equal Housing Opportunity. If you have an existing relationship with a Broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. *Represented buyer

26 | Community

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Planners grapple with pandemic’s mystery impacts on population boom and traffic BY JOHN RUCH AND MAGGIE LEE In the era of metro Atlanta’s population boom, it’s a magic number behind virtually every transportation plan and housing policy: another 2.9 million people packing into the region by 2050. But the pandemic could slow that growth and change many plans, says the head of the agency that made the estimate. “It’ll take about three or four years to know whether pre-pandemic migration patterns are going to pick up… or have slowed permanently,” said Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, at a March 8 Rotary Club of Buckhead luncheon. Historically, pandemics have halted or reduced such largescale relocations, he said. Even if the population crunch continues, the long-term future of teleworking is a huge question that could affect everything from local street-widenings to state toll lanes to MARTA routes. So is how such changes fit into long-term trends like a decline in bus ridership. The ARC had just completed a fouryear regional transportation plan in February 2020, only to see it become virtually obsolete in lockdowns. The plan included a kind of disaster scenario, dubbed “Fierce Headwinds,” but it was about an economic recession, not a pandemic. Now work is starting on an update, but it may need to account for new ways of thinking about notions like “rush hour.” “As professional planners this is our job to try and anticipate things like this, and in a lot of ways we got blindsided by the pandemic just like every person did,” says David Haynes, a senior planner at ARC. “We know the questions to be asking. We just don’t know answers to them yet.” Metro Atlanta’s traffic volumes are returning to a near normal, Haynes said, but in funny ways. Instead of just the traditional a.m. and p.m. rush hours, there’s congestion at midday and on the weekends. That spreading-out of the traffic volume suggests a significant teleworking shift. ARC will have to “totally revisit our assumptions” on things like traffic demand and volume-counting practices, he said. Georgia’s about to spend $1.2 billion to add toll lanes along the Perimeter and Ga. 400, including in Sandy Springs. And those Ga. 400 lanes might also carry a new “rapid” bus service, though whether and when that happens will depend on the will of Fulton mayors to ask voters to open their wallets. The folks who run toll roads and MARTA say the need for their infrastructure isn’t going anywhere, even if the pandemic means some changes. But there are also long-term trends they’re watching. Regular bus use has been on a gentle decline for years on key northeast metro Atlanta routes. That’s happening everywhere, even as the population rises. Nationwide, bus rid-

ership is at its lowest point since at least 1973, according to a new study by Georgia Tech researchers. Transit planners know some of what’s behind the nationwide bus and rail decline, even if they’re still figuring out how much each factor is to blame. They know that when driving and parking are easy and cheap, people will choose cars. And if buses are infrequent and get stuck in the same traffic as everybody else, they’re less popular. But what’s still a bit of a mystery is how much of the change is due to ride-hailing apps, e-scooters, bike-sharing, telecommuting and even gentrification. Even before COVID-19, those things were taking

some bite out of transit demand. Wealthy, white-collar professionals who can telecommute don’t tend to be dependent on buses or trains, whereas the folks they priced out of town might have been. Metro Atlanta’s toll lanes, on the other hand, get popular quickly and stay that way, according to Peach Pass data. The numbers plunged early in the pandemic and are climbing back. The use of toll lanes and transit hasn’t recovered since the pandemic plunge began about a year ago, though transit planners expect it to, just maybe in different ways. If some critical mass of people continue to telecommute or remain unem-

ployed, maybe that’s the future of rush hour. And online shopping is driving freight traffic higher. Tractortrailers bring the cargo part of the way, then the fleets of Amazon vans roll out. Meanwhile, there’s probably not anything that could stop the new toll lanes project on Ga. 400, though the Georgia Department of Transportation hasn’t finished all its necessary reviews. Chris Tomlinson is head of SRTA, the state agency that administers toll roads — and of the one that coordinates metro counties’ transit plans. He argues the metro still needs all kinds of alternatives to the single person driving one car during rush hour, including transit, telecommuting and yes, toll lanes. “We’re doing all these [Peach Pass lane] projects because our roads were already oversubscribed,” Tomlinson said. “If traffic was to get back to just 85% of what it was, we would still have congestion.” MARTA’s leader, CEO and General Manager Jeff Parker, thinks talk of the death of the office is exaggerated and he remains bullish on cities in general. He pointed to Microsoft moving in at Bankhead, at Portman working with MARTA itself for a big development at North Avenue station, at metro Atlanta’s growing population “Nobody’s talking about the demise of the Midtown market,” Parker said. And besides that, not everybody even works in an office or got a COVID-19 break from it. Thousands of people continued to rely on MARTA even during the worst of the pandemic. The agency is working on a bus route redesign with the aim of better matching routes to riders and the places they need to go. That should take about a year. In the meantime, MARTA is planning to reopen all its suspended bus routes by April 24.

Education | 27

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


RESERVE OPEN-AIR ADVENTURE AND LAKEFRONT Kids 6-16 can spend this summer unplugged from technology and plugged into fun at YMCA Camp Thunderbird and YMCA Camp Harrison


2021 HEALTH PRACTICES: - Masks required on buses - Bathrooms cleaned every 30 mins - Small groups; no more than 15 - No group mingling - Daily temperature checks - Weekly counselor testing

YOUR CHILD'S COLLEGE JOURNEY College? Careers? They’ll be here for your kids before you know it. Summer Academy at UGA offers specialty camps to support your teen or pre-teen’s passions and boost their skills.

Recognized nationally as a strong career and college builder Convenient, live online programs


Established in 2001, this will be

Josh Powell Camp has been getting kids active in the great outdoors every summer since 1972.

Great SUMMER activities: swimming, archery, canoeing, arts and crafts, fort building, gaga ball, and more!

Registration currently open for current K-2nd graders.

Sutton Middle School on Northside Drive and Kairos Church at I-285 and Riverside

Summer Academy’s 21st offering

This summer is the time to start making your student’s career and college dreams a reality


5242 Wade Green Road, Acworth, GA 30312 (678) 369-0780 (call or text) Hey@JoshPowellCamp.com



28 | Education

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Choose your own adventure at Trinity School Summer Camp! Academic, specialty, and sports camps for children ages 4 to 13 June 7–July 2 Monday–Friday

• 7:30 AM–4 PM

July 26–30 Limited offerings


SUMMER FRIENDS A summer program for individuals with developmental disabilities Ages 16-21 (still attending High School)

Summer Friends incorporates our core elements of community service, therapeutic activities, healthy living, and social skills in peer appropriate setting Our program provides an opportunity for high school students to experience the robust programming of our therapeutic day program

4301 Northside Parkway NW, Atlanta 404-231-8117 | kwhitmer@trinityatl.org Trinity School operates under strong health and safety guidelines.




If you’re looking for your student to learn and grow this summer in a fun, faith-filled environment, HSP Summer Programs are for you! Our fun summer programs for preschoolers – 12th graders are designed to support the formation of each student through faith, academics, athletics, and arts.

Early registration is recommended as spaces are limited. Visit holyspiritprep.org/summerprograms to register today! DUN

Education | 29

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net


smart girls

June 14-18 & 21-25 July 12-16 & 19-23 “A unique program that creates space for girls to take risks, discover their strengths, and express their own voice.”


for more information and to register visit


Join us for an adventurous and fun summer! Sea Gull and Seafarer’s unique North Carolina coastal location is perfect for our seamanship program and traditional camp activities. Campers make lifelong friendships, challenge themselves and succeed in the process.


Open to PK- 8th Grade students in metro Atlanta. Choose from science, technology, engineering, art camps, and more! gallowayschool.org/summer DUN`

30 | Education

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SUMMER CAMPS BLUE HERON SUMMER CAMP IS BACK! Blue Heron Summer Camp is the perfect place for your camper to escape into nature! Campers will discover the wonders of the


With 30 acres of greenspace located in the heart of Buckhead, PS

• Sports • Gymnastics • Science • Technology • Engineering • Math • Leisure • Arts & Crafts • Tennis


outdoors through hands-on learning, weekly focuses, and small group explorations. COVID safety protocols in place.






We offer a variety of quality summer day camps in Sandy Springs that encourage positive character development! Our staff are committed to providing a safe environment where campers can be challenged and achieve success. Learn more at registration.sandyspringsga.gov.



REPORTER NEWSPAPERS 2021 AGAPE TENNIS ACADEMY SUMMER CAMPS To register, email: info@agapetennisacademy.com, call (404) 636-5628, or sign up online at www.agapetennisacademy.com


Having fun becoming better players and better people

15% OFF if you register before April 1st

“The 2019 Organization of the Year” Camps are located at DeKalb Tennis Center: 1400 McConnell Drive Decatur, GA 30033


May 24-28 June 1-4 June 1-4 June 1-4 June 7-11 June 7-10 June 14-18 June 14-17 June 21-25 June 21-24 June 21-25 June 28-July 2 June 28-July 1 July 6-9 July 6-9 July 12-16 DUN

Classifieds | 31

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Help Wanted


Executive Admin Assistant FT position open for an experienced executive admin working with two professionals in the financial services industry. Must have excellent computer and customer relation skills as you will be working with the firm’s top clients. Office is located in Dunwoody area. Applicant must supply cover letter, resume, salary requirements and any additional qualifications you feel may be pertinent. No phone calls, emails only accepted. Contact: Sue jsue1205@yahoo.com

Caregiver, Sitter & Companion Available for your loved ones! Certified with Great References. Call Deidre Kimbro 404-397-9429 - Available Today.

Driveways and Walkways - Replaced or repaired. Masonry, grading, foundations repaired, waterproofing or reetaining walls. Call Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576.

Considerate Caregiver for elderly woman & man. Flex hours, days, evenings, weekends. Prefer CNA/ Medical/Medical Student experience. Light meal prep and housekeeping. 770-393-4578 (landline). Email: jimknocke@gmail.com.

Best Rate Painting - We beat all estimates! Rooms as low as $175. Exterior as low as $1750. 25 years’ experience. Free estimates and No money down. Call 404-434-8941 or email: bestratepaint@bellsouth.net Visit: www.bestratepainting.com.

Relevant Resume

Senior Companion

New Job Hunt.

Get your resume ready. 423-225-2471



Contact Meaningful Moments with Keisha Renae as your Senior Lifestyle Enrichment Advisor. I implement activities that help maintain lifestyles and reduce loneliness while building supportive friendships. Call 843-642-3414 or Email: KRmeaningfulmoments@gmail.com.

Services Available

Matthew’s Handy Services - 7AM appointments available. Small jobs & chores are my specialties! Organizers, Carpentry, Drywall & Painting. Call 404-547-2079 or email mwarren8328@ gmail.com. Troy Holland - Plumbing - Electrical - HVAC. All your needs! Repairs, Replacement & New installation. Family operated - 38 years experience. Commercial & Residential. Call 770256-8940.









Kitchen Bathroom Basement

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Windows And Doors Buy with confidence! Visit our showroom in Tucker!



• Family Owned since 1972 • Fast, Dependable Service by Professional, Uniformed Electricians


Check out our new website www.BelcoInc.com and follow us on


Serving Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Brookhaven, and Peachtree Corners


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To advertise in this section, call 404-917-2200 ext 1003


All Gutter Cleanings include gutter repairs and spider web knockdowns

First time clients save $15 CARLOS LAZARRE (706)572-4023 reliablegutterguy@gmail.com Free estimates


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Driveways & Walkways

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Masonry Grading Foundations repaired Waterproofing Retaining walls

Joe Sullivan 770-616-0576

Handyman Services Moving & delivery too!

No job too small References Available 803-608-0792

Cornell Davis, Owner

| 32

APRIL 2021 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

Take the first steps towards a better you.


Medical Weight Loss

Our custom treatments are designed specifically for your individual needs and goals, and include FDA approved medication, app tracking, and nutrition coaching.

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