JUNE 2020 - Brookhaven Reporter

Page 1


JUNE 2020 • VOL. 12 — NO. 6

Brookhaven Reporter WORTH KNOWING

Women veterans find online home P18



Signs of the pandemic times City Hall begins reopening, requires mask-wearing



On pandemic politeness P20 ROBIN’S NEST

A hike down memory lane


“Brookhaven Strong” yard signs were available for purchase at the HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern in Town Brookhaven on Memorial Day weekend. Originated by city leaders as a pandemic motto, the phrase has been adopted by the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce for use on the yard signs and T-shirts. But will the phrase stand the test of time? For an expert’s opinion, see the Commentary on p. 16-17 ►


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Restaurants seek elbow room for distanced dining BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

From picnic tables in parking lots to dining on strips of shopping center landscaping, restaurants returning after pandemic shutdowns are looking for room to spread out for social distancing. And no one knows how long that will last. Or how long it can last. Can restaurants survive with the lower capacity as they spread tables apart until the pandemic is

contained or a vaccine is found? How long will neighbors and city inspectors have patience for seating snatched from parking spaces and sidewalks? Experts and local restaurateurs say the pandemic could push the industry to a trend of building in more outdoor dining and drive-thrus. “As a longer-term trend, I think ‘alfresco’ and outdoor seating has always been a See RESTAURANT on page 31

City Hall and a few city park facilities will reopen on June 1 as part of a phased return from coronavirus pandemic closures. City Hall closed March 14 when an employee who doesn’t work with the public was diagnosed with COVID-19. City officials previously said City Hall would reopen after 14 consecutive days of stable or declining COVID-19 cases in Georgia or DeKalb County. “While not a continual decline, the cases have been on a general decline over that period of time,” said city spokesperson Burke Brennan. “However, the decline in cases has not been our only criteria in making the decision. Certainly, the recent guidance from the state and federal government factors in, as well as the desires and expectations of the community.” Employees at City Hall and Parks and Recreation workers returned to their offices and on-site work spaces on May 26 to get ready for the public. The Brookhaven Police Department will remain closed to the public for now, as will the municipal court. The court reopening will be determined by the state court system. Only small groups will be permitted at See CITY on page 30


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2 | Community

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COVID-19 testing on Buford Highway draws many BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Free COVID-19 testing at a site on Buford Highway in Brookhaven drew many people wondering about their status on May 14 and 15. The testing was conducted at 3292 Buford Highway at North Cliff Valley Way, a city-owned site is intended to be a DeKalb County ambulance station. It was carried out by volunteers with Community Organized Relief Effort or CORE, a nonprofit co-founded by actor Sean Penn originally for earthquake disaster relief in Haiti. Local sponsor organizations included the Latino Community Fund Georgia, We Love BuHi and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. People seeking a test could come on foot or by vehicle in separate lines. At the May 15 testing, volunteers guided people on foot to sign in and get gloves, a mask and a medical identification number. They waited in a line with chalk X’s marking spots 6 feet apart where they could stand before entering testing tents. People in vehicles were guided into a tent, where the test was administered with the window open about 2 inches. In all cases, the testing was done with a swab applied to both sides of the person’s mouth. The test results will be delivered by email or phone. Similar testing is available for free through any county public health center as well as at various other sites around metro Atlanta. PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER Top. a CORE volunteer in gown, gloves, mask and face shield checks in a person seeking COVID-19 testing at the Buford Highway site. Middle left, volunteers speak to people who arrived by car. Middleright, People wait in line to enter testing tents, with chalk marks on the ground showing them where to stand to maintain social distancing. Bottom left, a volunteer gives instructions to a person seeking a test. Bottom right, Cars line up on North Cliff Valley Way as people await entry into the test site. Below, a sign announces the test site while a volunteer greets a person in a vehicle.


JUNE 2020

Community | 3


Murphey Candler Baseball to return under pandemic safety rules BY ERIN SCHILLING “Let us play ball.” That was the request posed by Murphey Candler Baseball to the Brookhaven City Council during its virtual May 26 virtual meeting, sparking a two-hour discussion about how to safely allow organized sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. The council decided to allow the popular youth sports league to return to city parks for a June 1-July 2 season that comes with many precautions, including limiting play to older children and requiring spectators to wear masks and stay off the bleachers. Other leagues can return as well on the same schedule and must present a plan for safety guidelines, with Murphey Candler Baseball’s considered a model. But the vote was not unanimous and councilmembers warned the city will pull the plug if safety guidelines are violated. “As soon as we get the indication that the guidelines for social distancing and masks are not followed, I will be the first to make the motion to suspend all play and shut it down,” said District 2 Councilmember John Park, which the other councilmembers echoed. Dr. Sandra Ford, the DeKalb County health director, spoke in the meeting, where she applauded the careful reopening plan, though she warned the safety measures will only work if parents actually follow them. “Social distancing is going to be a real challenge at a sporting event where you’re excited and watching your child play and everyone is glad to be there,” Ford said. The conversation echoed those around the nation about how to restart sports leagues as states gradually reopen businesses and facilities. The council had safety questions about every aspect of the Murphey Candler season, from the amount of spectators to concern for players sliding into base. Murphey Candler Baseball President Jim Montembeau supplied answers to many of those concerns with a detailed safety plan for participants. They included mask requirements for spectators, mandatory social distancing and constant monitoring to make sure the rules are followed. The discussion tied into the city’s larger plan to open parks and recreation areas, as well as other outdoor sports leagues, by the beginning of June. Members of the council eventually approved outdoor, organized sports leagues to start practicing on June 1 and competing in games on June 15. Mayor John Ernst emphasized the decision did not green-light indoor sports. District 1 Councilmember Linley Jones was the only vote against starting summer sports seasons, citing too many safety concerns for players on the field. “This has been one of the most incredibly difficult issues and decisions that we have faced in the reopening process,” Jones said. BK

The council unanimously approved the other aspects of the staff recommended plan to reopen parks and recreation areas. Athletic fields, dog parks and tennis and pickleball courts are set to reopen June 1. Picnic pavilions, restrooms, basketball courts and playgrounds are tentatively set to open July 1. Brookhaven pools can reopen after a county inspection, which is currently delayed because of the health department’s work on the pandemic. Trails and greenways are already open.

Rules of the pandemic game

Though the councilmembers approved the baseball season, much to the delight of the Facebook live commenters, they were adamant about strict adherence to the safety rules. Ernst said Murphey Candler Baseball came to city officials weeks ago with its plan to reopen after its spring season was cut short in March. He said he hopes other leagues display the same type of careful planning. Montembeau said Murphey Candler Baseball is drawing on the Little League International and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in its reopening plan. Only older children, 9-12 years old, will be allowed to play. The season will end on July 2. Montembeau said the June 1 start date is based on coach and volunteer availability, and coaches said they wouldn’t compete in travel tournaments if they had a local season. Murphey Candler Park will have designated entry and exits to help with social distancing, and will not allow spectators to use the bleachers, instead requesting them to bring folding chairs to set up around the field. Post-game meetings will have a time limit, and the organization will ask all participants to leave the park as soon as possible after the game. The park will have hand sanitizer and disinfectants available. Teams also have separated and assigned batting cages. The restroom will have a one-in-one-out policy and have volunteers sanitizing it often. Jones worried about players sliding into bases without masks and being in close contact with each other. Ford said in the brevity of that sort of contact makes the risk for spreading the virus fairly low. District 4 Councilmember Joe Gebbia called the league’s reopening a “test” for similar activities. District 3 Councilmember Madeleine Simmons worried about participants ignoring social distance guidelines after the games when they are not at the park. She suggested asking the parents “in good faith” to say whether they’ve been practicing social distancing and wearing masks when they sign a waiver for the season and asking those who have not been to not participate.


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Spring 2019 |

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The PCIDs 20 years of shaping marks Perimeter Center COMMUNITY retail still works

P. 36



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

Who’s running for mayor? So far, just one P12

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Layla Smith, left, and Corrine Ovellette, eighth-graders at Peachtree Charter School, ride the swings during Middle the 20th edition of the Lemonade Days festival, which ran April 24-28 at Brook Run Park. The festival this year raised money for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the Donaldson-Bannist er Farm.

Mother’s Words of Wisdom



Mount Paran and Powers Ferry Joe Card, the owner of this carriage house at the a plan to build a roundabout. roads intersection is calling for the city to stop

Mother’s Words of Wisdom P19

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City Springs theater group prepares for another season of packed houses



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

As the City Springs Theatre Company prepares the final shows of its inaugural season, it’s also prepping for what it expects to be another season of packed shows as it tries to keep up with the enthusiasm and demand from the community. The theater company survived major

leadership changes at City Springs and has succeeded in implementing one of the complex’s key initiatives – educational programming. “I’ve been involved in nonprofit theatre for 33 years now. I have never, ever in my career seen anything like the level of support and desire for musical theater,” Brandt See CITY on page 12

country store. “We’d like Sandy Springs to make a priority of residential neighborhoods and not Aar- out our podcasts Check make it a bypass for commuters,” said at ReporterNewspapers.net on Gill, a homeowner at the intersection. The start of the project is quickly approaching, with utility relocation expectconstruction ed to begin in the fall andThe DunwoodybyReporter is spring 2020. The city is currently working mail delivered to roundthe for way on securing right of homes

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about. carrier routes in The $2.5 million project is expect-ZIP 30338 ed to cost $1.2 million for construction, For information: $800,000 for right of way and $300,000 delivery@reporternewspapers.net for design. The city did not respond to a request for comment, but has said the reby safety roundabout would improve ducing side-impact crashes and installing pedestrian improvements. It’s also expected to reduce congestion, according to the city.

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DeKalb CEO touts Dunwoody unity in ‘State of County’ address



DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond touted unity as the force behind local resurgence, and cited his “odd couple” partnership with Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal as key bridge-building, in a special “State of the County” address to

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

An increasingly residential sector is part of Perimeter Center’s future, with


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business leaders April 25.

Adding to the symbolism, the event – hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the policy and lobby group the Council for Quality Growth – was not only held in Dunwoody, but in very same Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel ballroom where the city’s own annual “state See DEKALB on page 10

Dunwoody’s old Austin Elementary School, which was expected to close once a new, 900-seat version debuts P16 open temporarily next year, may remain as DeKalb Schools searches for ways to alleviate overcrowding. Doing so would mean extending a lease agreement between the city and the school district, but officials are being tight-lipped about their discussions. COMMENTARY The city currently owns the old school at 5345 Roberts Drive, originally built in 1975, as part of a 2016 land swap deal with DeKalb Schools. The agreement included the city trading the former Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields for the school property and DeKalb Schools paying the city $3.6 million. DeKalb Schools P18 is building the new school on Roberts Drive on the site of the former baseball fields and adjacent to the NEST ROBIN’S Dunwoody Nature Center, less than a halfmile from the current AES. The city has not finalized what it wants to do with the old school property once it is vacated, but talks have generally focused on creating a park space. The new Austin Elementary School is being built using 2011 special local option salesP19 tax funding. As part of the 2016 agreement, the city agreed to lease the old school to DeKalb


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Section Two

MAY Sandy









er Business: PCIDs turn s 20 ►Q+A with loca behind Atla l couple nta’s big anime convent ion









Celeb ratul rate Mem ation s to orial Day feed your family all the and Springs/B & friends 2019 grad

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P. 36


RUCH johnruch@repo rternewspapers. net

After 20 years increasingly of scraper-sprou jammed a population highways boom, it may ting and skysound mega-develop about Perimeterquaint that ments, 1999. Mall trafficpeople worried But the way back provement Perimeter in Community of business Districts, property the self-taxing Imout of those concerns, owners that groups sons the why the local boom are among formed the traffic has to Perimeter isn’t even happened reaand get there worse. Center If you today, via one PCIDs of the you may go pushed ramps big projects well – like woody on Ga. 400 the Hammond the or the Drive change Road diverging Ashford-Dun touches at I-285 – diamond and you’ll interscaping they’re responsible see smaller and rush-hour for, like “They had a traffic landone, cleaning reputation cops. those for, number cosmeticthings up, providing used amenities to,” some we’ve the CIDs said Ann all becomeof Hanlon, resident form as a longtimewho watched director. and now serves Dunwoody as their lutionary,“At the time, that was executive that to pay for those a private group pretty revoamenities.” Back was willing day coverin 1999, the Perimeter three cities en, Dunwoody that toCenter not yet and Sandy – Brookhavexist. its next As the Springs – did sion on 20 years, it PCIDs looks has proposalstransportatio refocusedahead to n, leaving its missuch as ies. Transportatio park-building previous erything from n these days to the cittrail networks helping to build means evtoll lanes to multiuse and transitshaping That’s the future in PCIDs addition to on Ga. 400 and I-285.of currently some like sidewalks provides of the basics shuttles, the or coordinates, and crosswalks, rimeter traffic signal Connects timing commuter vice. commuter and the An increasingly advice Peserpart of Perimeter residential Center’s sector is CONTINU future, with ED

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Is this the killed Buckgun that namesake head’s deer?


Take steps to protect urban wildlife Mother’s Words of Wisdom

• VOL. 13 —

Buckhead Reporter

After 20 years of a population boom, increasingly jammed highways and skyscraper-sprouting mega-developments, it may sound quaint that people worried about Perimeter Mall traffic way back in 1999. But the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, the self-taxing groups of business property owners that formed out of those concerns, are among the reasons the local boom has happened and why the traffic isn’t even worse. If you go to Perimeter Center today, you may well get there via one of the big projects the PCIDs pushed – like the Hammond Drive ramps on Ga. 400 or the Ashford-Dunwoody Road diverging diamond interchange at I-285 – and you’ll touches they’re responsible see smaller for, like landscaping and rush-hour traffic cops. “They had a reputation for, number one, cleaning things up, providing some of those cosmetic amenities we’ve all become used to,” said Ann Hanlon, who watched the CIDs form as a longtime Dunwoody resident and now serves as their executive director. “At the time, that was pretty revolutionary, that a private group to pay for those amenities.” was willing Back in 1999, the three cities that today cover Perimeter Center – Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs – did not yet exist. As the PCIDs looks ahead to its next 20 years, it has refocused its mission on transportation, leaving proposals such as park-building previous to the cities. Transportation these days means everything from helping to build multiuse trail networks to shaping the future of toll lanes and transit on Ga. 400 and I-285. That’s in addition to some of PCIDs currently provides the basics the or like sidewalks and crosswalks,coordinates, commuter shuttles, traffic signal timing and the Perimeter Connects commuter advice service.

to remake Emory unveils $1B plan innovation district’ Executive Park as ‘health

The Brookhaven Reporter to is mail delivered homes on selected carrier routes in ZIP 30319 For information: delivery@reporternewspapers.net


Take steps to protect urban wildlife


1815 Briarcliff Road 404-474-9444

fishing regulations approved after heron’s death


of Residents near Mount Paran and Powers Ferry roads have rallied against a roundabout expected to be built early next year. They argue the roundabout will mostly help commuters while negatively affecting their properties, including requiring demolition of a P19 once used as a nearly century-old building




Dunwoody Brookhaven

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




CongraCelebrate Memor tulatio ial Day ns to Let us feed and your family all the 2019 gradua Sandy Springs/Buckh Three & friends while 4920 Roswell Road 404-255-6368

Sandy Springs

Section Two



ROBIN’S NEST the intersection

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City agrees to extend PATH400 to Johnson Ferry Road

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Old Austin Elementary School may remain open to relieve overcr park owding New public





rtar retail


johnruch@reporternew spapers.net

MAY 2019 • VOL. 11 —

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





| Where brick-and-mo

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

Main photo, the diverging at Ashford-Dunwoody

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Spring 2019



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shows future of Executive Park it owns plan for the 60 acres and Musculoskeletal Emory University’s master colored in blue, including a new hospital and industrial. office medical and office buildings to rezone the property from retail to Center. Emory is seeking

300-plus properties could be affected ect by I-285 toll lanes proj AND JOHN RUCH BY DYANA BAGBY toll lanes on the The state’s plan to build impact a minimum of top end of I-285 could the corridor, rang300 properties all along easements to full ing from construction to city of Brookhavland takings, according en officials. City CouncilmemMayor John Ernst and about 50 people ber Linley Jones informed community meeting at attending an April 18

number they learned City Hall that was the with a Georgia Deafter a private meeting on project manpartment of Transportati did not know how ager. They also said they would be afmany Brookhaven properties fected. affected on the The 300-plus properties located between Hentop end of I-285 are area in the east derson Road in the Tucker See 300 on page 23




Take steps to pro tec urban wildlife t

P18 revealed its $1 Emory University has Park, a “livebillion plan for Executive ROBIN’S that district” NEST work-play health innovation a hotel, multifamily includes a hospital, and office space. The housing and medical build, but to years 15 60-acre plan will take center could start work on an orthopedic this year, Emory says. Park, a neighborResidents of Lavista Park, are seekhood adjacent to Executive P19 Brookhaven, posing to be annexed into year, in part because sibly as soon as this a say in the developthey want to have

Mother’s Words of Wisdom

ment. a say because this Check out our “It’s critical we have at ReporterNew podcasts d,” said Mispapers.net comes into our neighborhoo shortly before Emchael Lappin, speaking 22 See EMORY on page The Buck

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Sandy Springs


Perimeter Busines

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






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MAY 2019

Section Two



The PCID of shapings marks 20 year s Perimeter Center

Left, John Beach, presid which repute ent dly killed the of the Buckhead Herita holds what is said to be neighborhood’s names ge Society, holds the “Buckh the same firearm ake deer in an undate in 1838. Right, Jamesead Gun,” d photo. (John Whitle Ruch/Specia y l)

After 45 ye launches a ars, a nonprofit citizen inpureview of NPU t system






The Neigh borhood Plann tem that ing Unit sysreviews plann ing, zonin other big g and issues ment is gettin for Atlanta city govern g a review downtown of its own. nonprofit A called the Civic Innov Center ation has begun a quiet, for but

potentially influential, series of meetin and survey s that aims to have reform gs ommendatio recns for the 45-year-old on the table system by March 2020. “There are things about tem] that [the NPU are amazi ng, and things syswe need to that have a lot more conve about,” said rsation CCI Execu tive Direct or Rohit See AFTER on page 14


MAY 2019 • VOL. 13 — NO. 5

Sandy Springs

Brookhaven Buckhead

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




MAY 2019

Section Two




johnruch@repo rternewspapers .net

The woode with age. The n stock is beige and battere metal plate decorated above the trigger d with a pair is of birds. The long, heavy barrel is and octago nal. It’s an old sure. It might muzzleloading firearm even be the , deer that gave one that killed for Buckhead the 1838. its curious name in John Beach, Heritage Society president of the Buckh ead , is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by trackin g John Beach, see the tales surrou Around Town, nding another little-known page 20. piece of area history – an quietly surviv 1842 ed destruction log cabin that to a Buckh ead back yard. by being moved Beach gave In the meant the Report ime, er an exclus ive close-


Dunwoody Reporter

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JUNE 2020



A $509,734 bid for construction of a storm drainage system as part of the South Bamby improvements project was awarded to The Corbett Group by Brookhaven City Council on May 12. A $34,745 contingency was included, bringing the total budget for the project to $544,480. No start date was announced. Public Works Director Hari Karikaran said the project will divert water away from residences and the road. The Corbett Group will construct a storm drainage system along Carlton Place, Dresden Drive and South Bamby Lane. Studies show flooding issues start in and above the Skyland Drive area, getting transferred to South Bamby Lane and then to a creek, which floods. On March 24, the council approved buyouts of two of 11 Ashford Park homes designated for voluntary acquisition through the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides funds to buy properties in floodplains. The purchased homes will be demolished, leaving the properties as open space with nothing floods can damage. The city received a $3.67 million grant award last year to buy the 11 homes. The city’s share, paid through its Stormwater Fund, amounts to $550,170. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would pay the bulk of the purchase costs with $2.75 million in funds.


Community | 5 The state would chip in another $336,780. The first two homes required Brookhaven to pay out $128,000 out of its Stormwater Fund. The city has until March 31, 2021, to buy the remaining homes in the grant program.


The City Council voted to amend its transportation and Buford Highway plans with a call for bus rapid transit on MARTA’s Route 39. The council accepted the Buford Highway Transit Evaluation Report presented two weeks earlier that proposed dedicated lanes for Route 39 — MARTA’s busiest bus route — so the vehicles could avoid pulling into traffic between stops. The BRT option runs between Buckhead’s Lindbergh Center Station and Doraville, City Manager Christian Sigman said. Other proposals include reducing the number of stops or adding a new express line to serve the route. Sigman said adoption enables the city to include it in an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan. That plan “has limited references to transit options as it was developed in 2014 right after we became a city,” he said. It allows inclusion into the Buford Highway Improvement Master Plan, which is also under an update this year. “The next step will be to work with MARTA to get it into their pipeline for development,” Sigman said.

6 | Community

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Windsor/Osborne roundabout project moves ahead BY BOB PEPALIS A roundabout planned for Brookhaven’s Windsor Parkway/ Osborne Road intersection should improve traffic flow, officials say, but residents will have to endure six weeks of detours and road closures to get there. The City Council on May 12 approved a bid from Construction 57 for $658,804 for the project, with another $66,196 designated for contingencies. The city hopes construction will begin during the pandemic’s lower traffic volumes, but the first step of relocating gas lines is up to the utility company’s timetable. The project will replace an existing four-way stop. It also includes sidewalks upgrades, utility relocations and drainage improvements. Decorative lighting and benches also will be installed. “It is going to be six weeks of continuous closure. It’s going to take a long time,” said Public Works Director Hari Karikaran. He said now is a good time to start the project with a reduced traffic flow. The intersection will shift northward for alignment, he said. “It is going to be a long time and… there’s going to be a lot of road closures, said Mayor John Ernst. Traffic will be routed through residential areas during the closure. “We just have to go through this pain to get it done,” the mayor said. Karikaran said $20,000 was built into the project for furnishing the center of the roundabouot. He said the city can install anything it wants in the center of that intersection, but it has to be breakable for safety reasons. “Mainly we are thinking of planting in the middle,” he said. “And we have to mitigate the height also so it doesn’t limit vision for motorists.” City Manager Christian Sigman’s suggestion to wait until the roundabout project is completed to decide what to install was accepted by the council. He instructed Karikaran to request an immediate change order to pull $20,000 out of the bid amount for landscaping that the city will set aside for what goes into the island. On the suggestion of Councilmember Joe Gebbia, the Arts Advisory Board will be asked to participate in that planning.


An illustration of the right-of-way acquisition needed for the planned roundabout at Windsor Parkway and Osborne Road.

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10 | Art & Entertainment

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High school students give poetry a voice BY JUDITH SCHONBAK

He is a strong advocate of Poetry Out Loud among teachers and students alike and has been involved with POL for 15 of his 16 years Fourteen high school students from the greater Atlanta and cenas a teacher. “POL can help change the culture and perspective of tral regions of the state gathered on stage at the Kennedy Theatre poetry when students get emotionally invested in interpreting and at the Atlanta History Center on March 1. They had come to present performing poetry in high school and beyond,” he said. their selected poems in the regional finals of the annual national Breite is a poet in his own right. He has published a chapbook Poetry Out Loud program. The three or four students with the highof poetry, The Knife Collector, and more than 100 poems in the last est scores would go on to the state finals, held at the Atlanta Histoeight years in various journals. ry Center, and, ultimately, to the national finals in Washington, D.C. He encourages his students to go for the POL experience. “At It was a full house in the intimate theater with an audience of the class level, it’s not unusual for even shy students to try it. Some SPECIAL family, friends and teachers to support them. Also in-house were students hope to improve public speaking skills through POL, and From left, Catherine Wang and Jesse Breite. four judges charged with evaluating the students’ performances on many succeed in that,” he added. “The more surprising element,” he each of two poems. said, “is that male athletes also join the competition. It can be a cool thing to do and the enAmong the contenders was Catherine Wang, a Yale-bound senior at The Westminster ticement of extra credit motivates many students.” Schools in Sandy Springs. It was her second year participating in Poetry Out Loud. She was Choosing a poem from the anthology may sound daunting. Wang said it helps that the chosen for the 2019 state finals that first year. collection is categorized. Last year she chose message-driven works, but this year searched Each year thousands of students across the country take on POL’s rigorous, exacting for poems with strong visual imagery. Her choices were contemporary works: “Dragons” by and competitive effort all about poetry. For Wang, her enthusiasm for poetry blossomed Devin Johnston and “A Certain Kind of Eden” by Kay Ryan. in a sophomore creative writing class, heightened by recitation of poetry in English class. For students, the effort is demanding. They must recite from memory, and Poetry Out She does not write poetry, she said, but loves reading and interpreting it. Presenting it Loud has a set of judging criteria based on “accuracy, physical presence, voice and articulavia POL has been her way of sharing and furthering others’ enthusiasm. “POL has been a tion, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, and overall performance.” Exgreat way to meet people from other schools and communities, too,” she added. perts and Instructors from the literary and performing arts serve as judges. Poetry Out Loud begins in the classroom in the fall semester in schools that have reg“The poem must speak through you,” said Wang. “Understanding every single word in istered to participate. School instructors judge the presentations on the same POL evaluathe poem is critical,” she emphasized. Plenty of practice is a must too. Wang practiced with tion criteria used throughout the levels of competitions. Wang said about 10 of 14 students hand-writing the work, voice recordings, videos and performing for her family. “They will in her senior class participated this year. She was the only one selected to go on to the allsee things like gestures and speech that you don’t catch yourself.” school level. The 2020 GA POL state finals were scheduled to take place at the Atlanta History Center For all levels of the Poetry Out Loud competition, a student chooses works from an anin mid-April, but the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans. GA POL thology of more than 1,000 classic and contemporary poems. At least one poem must be 25 opted to hold the state finals virtually. Nine state winners submitted videos of their presenlines or fewer and another must be written before the 20th century. For regional finals, two tations to the judges. Traditionally, the state champion would go on to represent Georgia at poems are required; for state and national finals, three poems are required. the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C., but the finals were canceled beThe anthology assembled by POL spans the spectrum of subjects. “The selection is dicause of the coronavirus. verse enough to give everyone a voice,” said Jesse Breite, Upper School Language Arts inPoetry Out Loud is a partnership of National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundastructor at Westminster Schools. tion, and state arts agencies. In Georgia, it is Georgia Council for the Arts.

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Community | 11


COVID-19 at ‘critical point’ in Georgia, expert warns BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

The COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia appears to be in a “steady state,” but also a “critical point” where precautions must remain to prevent it from growing, a prominent expert told the Brookhaven-based Latin American Association at its May 21 annual awards event. Dr. Carlos del Rio is a professor of infectious diseases at Emory’s School of Medicine, chair of the Department of Global Health at its Rollins School of Public Health, and co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research. He has appeared frequently in local and national media commenting on COVID-19, recently expressing caution about Georgia’s reopening of previously shuttered businesses. Del Rio spoke during the 31st annual Compañeros Awards presented by the LAA, which is based on Buford Highway. Usually held at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, the event this year was held virtually due to the pandemic and can be viewed online here. “In the state of Georgia, we are right now in a sort of steady state,” said del Rio. “The number of cases are stable or probably starting to come down,” but hospital intensive care unit capacity remains a concern, as locally they are about 70% full, he said.

Economic damage from business closures can have health impacts, too, he said. But as business returns, he said pandemic precautions need to remain: mask-wearing, hand-washing, avoidance of face-touching, and regular cleaning of surfaces. Del Rio noted that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, with an increase in cases among Hispanic residents, primarily those working in the chicken industry. He said that involves poverty and other social factors that make it difficult for people to avoid the disease through sheltering in place and social distancing. “So when I think about COVID, I think that we’re all clearly at risk, but some people are higher risk, and they’re higher-risk because of social conditions,” he said. “So bottom line, we are at a critical point in this epidemic,” said del Rio. “I think as the country’s beginning to open, we don’t want to see an increase in the number of cases, so we want to continue practicing social distancing. We want to continue being careful, wearing masks, and above all, we want to be taking care of ourselves. “Because this summer could be where we see an increased number of cases if we don’t take this seriously, if we think this is gone, and if we don’t do the right things,” he added. “And that could be quite devastating for our healthcare system and for our communities


North Atlanta High School Class of 2020!

Thanks to the ongoing dedication of our students and families committed to public education, along with our top-notch administration, faculty, volunteers and program offerings, we have great news to share about our seniors this year. Stats as of 5/12/2020 (final stats will be available from NAHS in August)

• $25,275,212 in Scholarships awarded to date (not including HOPE/Zell) • Scholarships include: 4 Posse Foundation Scholars, 1 ROTC National Scholar and a National Merit Scholar Finalist • 100 Zell Miller Eligible and 174 HOPE Eligible Seniors (54% of seniors) • 86% of the 509 graduating seniors applied to college • Admitted to 34 of the Top 50 National Colleges and Universities (according to U.S. News) including: Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University and Brown University • Admitted to 28 of the Top 50 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (according to U.S. News) including: Spelman College, Howard University, Hampton University and Morehouse College

• Appointment at United States Air Force Academy and United States Naval Academy, our 12th and 13th Service Academy appointments in 7 years • 35 Admitted to Georgia Tech and 65 Admitted to University of Georgia • 18 NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA Athletic commits for Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Cross Country, Baseball, Wrestling, Tennis and Basketball including 14 NCAA athletic scholarships • 65% of Seniors took advantage of International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment classes

North Atlanta High School, the oldest International Baccalaureate school in the Southeast, offers well-rounded academics, a variety of extra-curricular activities, fine & performing arts, competitive athletics, study abroad, and more. Students must earn significant community service hours, to further engage in the wider world that awaits them at graduation.


Thank you to the residents of our community whose tax dollars support the students at NAHS and our APS North Atlanta Cluster!

12 |

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Community | 13


Lenox Park townhomes win Brookhaven City Council approval

A map of the left-turn lane proposed on Lenox Park Boulevard as shown in an application filing.



A developer won approval to build 62 townhomes in the Lenox Park neighborhood from the Brookhaven City Council May 26. The Brookhaven Planning Commission approved the recommendation of a real estate developer’s application to build 62 townhomes in the Lenox Park neighborhood in a 5-1 vote during a virtual meeting on May 6. Developer Minerva USA’s request to rezone the Lenox Park Boulevard property on the Buckhead border from “officeinstitution” had similar approval from the Brookhaven Planning Commission on May 6. The approval included variances for rear-yard setbacks of 10 feet rather than 30 for three units; and to waive requirements that garages be less than 50% of the facade, to install two-car garages in the narrow townhomes. Brian Davison, a managing partner at Minerva, said the development company was working with community members on specific design elements of the new townhomes, including “classic, yet fresh and modern architecture” and “lots of windows and outdoor space.” The development would also provide a point of connection with nearby Lenox Park. Davison acknowledged the ongoing concern from residents of the nearby Arbors neighborhood about the creation of an additional left-turn lane into the Minerva development site, which would be directly across the street from the Arbors. That was a concern for the City Council as well, but the project was approved with it. In the public comment portion of the planning commission meeting, residents voiced concerns that a new turn lane would reduce space in the median for pedestrians waiting to cross the street, potentially violate Americans with Disabilities Act crosswalk guidelines, and require the removal of several trees. Davison said in his opinion the turn lane was unneeded as well, but he left it up to city planners. Public Works director Hari Karikaran said the recommendation for the lane


was to ensure driver safety in the hightraffic area. Commissioners stressed the need to find a balance between pedestrian and driver safety. Commissioner Kevin Quirk recommended that an existing crosswalk be moved to the eastbound median to avoid any interaction with the left-turn lane. The application was recommended for approval with that condition, as well as with an amendment urging the developers to replant trees where possible.

CONGRATULATIONS CLASS OF 2O2O! 258 offers of admission from 130 different colleges and universities in 31 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Scotland!

14 | Education

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Celebrating the Class of 2020 The coronavirus pandemic threw many graduation ceremony traditions into disarray. Car parades of teachers, students and parents became a popular stand-in for the traditional diploma walk-through. The following are the valedictorians and salutatorians of the class of 2020 as they were announced by the Reporter’s press time. For updates, see ReporterNewspapers.net. Chamblee High School Nevin Aresh and Hattie Carter (V), Md Alam and Rachael Jackson (S) Cross Keys High School Kristy Nguyen (V), Kitty Leung (S) Dunwoody High School Sophia Gavalas (V), Justin Jasper (S)

Pace Academy Aidan Gannon (V), Sophie Lettes (S) Riverwood International Charter School Hayes Miller (V), Chandler McCleskey (S) St. Pius X Catholic High School Nicole Gresham (V), Daniel Buckley (S)

The Weber School Caroline Schneider (V), Isaac Goldman (S) The Westminster Schools Anup Bottu and Lauren Kennedy (V), Albert Liang and Laura Sams (S)

Clockwise from top picture, The Class of 2020 is celebrated in a May 16 car parade sponsored by the Dunwoody North Civic Association. The parade had two dozen graduates and more than 30 vehicles. Dunwoody Police vehicles lead the May 16 parade. Eighth-graders at St. Martin’s Episcopal School were celebrated in a May 21 car parade on the school’s Brookhaven campus. An in-person ceremony was scheduled for July 30. A North Atlanta High senior waves from a May 13 car parade through Buckhead and Brookhaven that celebrated students from various local public and private schools at various grade levels. SPECIAL

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School Nick Reddy (V), Matthew Raeside (S) The Lovett School Sarah Packman (V), Lily Siegel (S) Marist School Lucas Gonzalez (V), Charlie Callahan (S) North Atlanta High School Emily Song (V), Soleil Golden (S)



JUNE 2020



3:57 PM

| 15


congratulations, lovett

class of


Blaise Achecar Michael Agard Jeremiah Allen Vaghul Anbil Cole Arndt Katie Atwater Ava Ault Julia Balser Cal Barwis Sam Becker Henry Beery Jones Bell Lauren Bernard Tom Bethea Mackenzie Boden Paige Bogard Jackson Borden Clyde Bresnahan John Thomas Brooks Davis Burch Elise Burns Aiden Camillo Anna Carroll Luke Casey Maggie Chambers Nathan Chang Jenny Chen Conner Chevalier Taylor Cohen William Collier Hannah Crenshaw Clayton Cross Will Cumbie Charlotte Dalke Baird Daniel Dobbs Davie Savannah Dean Blake Degner Emma D’Emilio Price Doherty Anna Eiland Hunter Fankhauser Gus Feinour Emilio Ferrara Harper Finch James Fite Colin French Virginia French Ellie Friedman Alex Garcia-Civita Jake Garrett Kaitlyn Garrett Barnett Gibson Kasey Goldenberg Ralston Goldfarb


Lanier Gordon Riya Govin Matias Gowens Kendall Greene Joshua Gregory Nichelle Haley Stewart Hammond Robson Harber Chauncey Hill Cammie Holmes Will Houk Molly Hubbard Hudson Huffard Brett Hull Isabelle Johnson Dotsie Jones Mary Eliza Kamerschen Christian Kelley Gray Kelly Nick Kemether Thornton Kennedy Palmer King Penny King Elizabeth Kleinknecht Jordan Knotts Kofi Lacefield James Lewallen Camille Lewis Margaret Lindsay Caroline Long Chandler Love Frank Lummus Sarah Grace Madden Alex Maner Brooks Mauldin Blaine McAllister Evelyn McCrady Carter McIntosh Caroline McPherson Ben Metcalfe Jonathan Molner Dailey Moog Lillie Moore Rhys Morgan Rankin Mori J.T. Mulcahy Tyler Neville Jahaan Nijhawan Justin Novellas Nate Olmstead Catherine Olsen Erin O’Shaughnessy Sarah Packman Michael Panos Duncan Park

Riya Patel Carter Pavloff Laura Pencea Cole Pisowicz Kate Pitfield Charlotte Pollard Liza Pope Brooke Preisinger Ellis Prigge Lindsay Pugh Cory Riley Mary Alyson Rogers John Russ Hannah Saad Harrison Savage Sloane Saxon Emma Schimpf Mary Katherine Schmersal Pierce Schmidt-Fellner Towner Schunk Mattie Schwieger Mary Pearce Seawell Liza Sharpley Catherine Sherling Olivia Sidman Lily Siegel Robinson Smith Sanci Smith Hailey Staton Ethan Tai Reeves Taylor Chloe Titelman Campbell Tomlin Paxton Trevett Stefano Ulrich Justin Umeri David Underwood Dominique Valles Mike Valls Fritz Van Winkle Sally Vaughan Stockton Vohs Casey Wade Luke Wahl Claire Wallace Cyrus Walls Alicia Walters Pross Watts Lillian Whittle Ritter Windom Jonathan Wolle Luke Wooddall Patrick Woodward Noah Young Haley Zoellick

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16 | Commentary

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Commentary: Who had the best branding in the pandemic? Editor’s Note: As the pandemic crisis struck local communities, leaders emerged, volunteer programs multiplied, and efforts to boost morale spread. In the terms of business and politics, many of these were partly efforts of branding and profile-raising. But which ones worked, which ones fell by the wayside, and will any have impacts after the immediate crisis is over? Down the road, will anyone still say “Brookhaven Strong” or remember that a local restaurant donated food? The Reporter asked professors of marketing, business and politics for their perspectives on some local examples.


Jason Scott Kofke, the original artist of the mural soon raised copyright objections, placing the Dunwoody effort on hold, while marketing his own “Everything Will Be OK” products. An agreement was reached, but the nonprofits soon ended the sign-selling.

The “Army Strong” recruiting slogan introduced in 2006 inspired a trend toward using “X Strong” to highlight the resilience of communities affected by natural disasters or acts of violence, or to show support for a health or social cause. While many people think of “Boston Strong” due its wide publicity following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, its usSPECIAL age is now ofAn work by Terry Combahee was among the ten more localwinners of the “Brookhaven Strong” art contest. ized. It would be interesting to know what associations the city was seeking to leverage by using something recognizable versus using something more generic, like “Together Brookhaven.” The strength of “Brookhaven Strong” is that it is not simply a slogan, but an umbrella for a number of citywide initiatives and programming to bring interested people together and show support in this time of great anxiety and uncertainty, and suffering for some. Their focus is correct; it’s about making sure they’re a community and that those who need support feel that they’re not alone. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, sticks. There’s no reason to think they couldn’t retain some of the new community building programming once we get through this. And, if yes, does the slogan stay with it as a reminder of its roots? A challenge is that there is usually a segment of the population who wants closure, to move on after the healing is done, though perhaps that is more for natural disasters or acts of violence.

Years ago, my daughter was given the “Everything Will Be OK” slogan on magnets from the Spruill Center for the Arts. There was no attribution to the artist, Jason Kofke, so I always attributed it to the center. When I encountered the signs throughout my neighborhood recently, I found them relevant, encouraging and uplifting. Now all of that is going away and we will all be worse off for it. Dunwoody’s “Everything will be OK” yard sign fundraiser is a textbook example of good intentions gone awry. Create Dunwoody was established to enable local artists to enrich the lives of the local community, and this can be of huge value: We need organizations that mutually reinforce a dynamic between the arts, education, community, and commerce. Local artists understand the heartbeat of the community and can inspire us to see our circumstances and our possibilities differently. During this unprecedented pandemic, we need their perspectives more than ever. Unfortunately, this partnership suffered from a fatal incentive problem: artists must remain anonymous and, as evidenced with Jason Kofke, they may not be compensated for their creative work. An artist’s reputation and creativity is the cornerstone for commerce; a partnership that stifles financial growth and opportunity is doomed from the start. It’s unfortunate that these fatal missteps have cost all of us inspiration from local artists. Moving on to a better “new normal” requires us to not waste the learnings from this crisis. Let’s commit to building better, win-win partnerships that benefit artists and educators and strengthen our communities in the days ahead.

The city of Brookhaven promoted this phrase, including as a social media hashtag, and connected it to two events: a virtual community sing-along of the national anthem and an art contest.

— Douglas Bowman, professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, where he teaches product and brand management

— Sandy Jap is the Sarah Beth Brown Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and the author of “Partnering with the Frenemy”


This phrase appears on a popular mural in Dunwoody and has been adopted as a quasi-official motto. During the pandemic, the nonprofits Create Dunwoody and Spruill Center for the Arts began selling yard-sign versions of the mural as a fundraiser for out-of-work artists, at first to great success. However,


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms emerged as a prominent critic of Gov. Brian Kemp’s reopening orders, including in national media appearances.


The “Everything Will Be OK” yard signs.

While there are even more prominent Kemp opponents — former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams immediately comes to mind — none are as well-positioned to make the case against the governor. Like her counterparts in big cities across the country, Mayor Bot-

represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC. BK

JUNE 2020

Commentary | 17


toms has hands-on experience in managing the response to viral outbreaks. But unlike those other mayors, she has had to contend with a governor who isn’t on the same page with her. Whether she would have sought the role that was thrust on her by the governor’s order, she certainly has embraced it, appearing frequently on national media platforms to voice her concerns. While I have no doubt that her concerns are authentic and heartfelt, it is still reasonable to consider the political consequences of the role she is playing. In the first place, there is no downside for her. She runs no risk in her city or her party for criticizing Kemp. And the governor is smart enough to know that he can’t retaliate against the city that is the engine of Georgia’s economy. As for the upside, we can think about statewide and national consequences. Right now, Abrams could have the Democratic nomination for any statewide office she seeks. As the state becomes more competitive (as it’s reasonable to expect that it will), we have to remember that Abrams can hold only one office at a time and that she likely has her eyes eventually on a national office. Mayor Bottoms is a plausible contender for any office that Abrams doesn’t seek or that she leaves behind. A few years ago, I would have said that big-city mayors aren’t cut out for the national political scene. Someone from a big city playing on the national stage wanted to be — I would have guessed — Housing and Urban Development secretary in a Democratic administration. But geography and demography make metropolitan areas the core of the Democratic coalition, and Bloomberg and Buttigieg showed that mayors can be players. I’m not arguing that we should expect Keisha Lance Bottoms to aspire to the Oval Office. But a successful mayoralty, together with a national profile, could launch her into statewide contention. — Joseph Knippenberg, professor of politics at Oglethorpe University


Early in the pandemic, there were nonstop announcements of restaurants donating food to hospitals/first responders and breweries making hand sanitizer. Locally, two restaurants temporarily converted into food pantries. Amidst the horrors of the pandemic, individuals and organizations have also found creative ways to maintain civic connection to one another. Among these are the dozens

of local restaurants that have opened their arms and their doors to deliver food to frontline workers or turn their kitchens into food pantries. These are examples of what social scientists have coined “social infrastructure,” or those physical spaces (including small businesses) that bring people together to achieve collective goods or simply provide a safe place to gather. In crisis, such infrastructure can be a key source of mutual aid and resiliency. For example, one of the entrepreneurs in our Start:ME accelerator, Springreens Community Café, has provided more than 5,000 free hot meals in the East Lake community since late April. It is possible that such generous acts may provide benefits down the road as patrons see that restaurants are so much more than places to eat. The pandemic has shown that restaurants and other small businesses also comprise the connective tissue that holds communities together in times of crisis. But shifting to a food pantry or developing a delivery service also builds goodwill in a community, produces innovative revenue streams, and keeps some key employees working. FILE Are there downsides to The Sandy Springs restaurant Under the Cork more restaurants jumping Tree was converted into a food pantry. onto the giving bandwagon? Probably not so long as neighbors need food and local farmers and other suppliers need reliable income. However, giving away supplies for free in a makeshift food pantry is not sustainable. It is a distinctive display of the incredible resilience and generosity of our city’s food industry, but also reveals the broken system of food distribution that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. — Wesley Longhofer, associate professor of organization and management, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS WHAT NOW? WEALTH PLANNING AFTER COVID-19… DOES THE COVID-19 EXPERIENCE MEAN THAT WEALTH PLANNING IS NOW TOTALLY DIFFERENT? No, not necessarily. Market and economic conditions continue to change, but good wealth planning comes from being consistent in making sound decisions. HOW CAN YOU MAKE SOUND DECISIONS WHEN THE FUTURE IS SO UNCERTAIN? In nearly 50 years of wealth planning, we have worked with families who can personally recall terribly uncertain conditions. In 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union were staring each other down over nuclear missiles in Cuba and plenty of people felt it could be the end of civilization. In 1974, a sitting U.S. President resigned from office in disgrace and the average citizen’s faith in our government reached an all-time low. There have been times, of course, when the future looked bright. In 2000, we ushered in a new Millennium amidst great optimism, following a decade that saw the fall of the Iron Curtain and a peace dividend.

during the month of the Cuban missile crisis, you were 30% richer one year later. If you put money to work in U.S. stocks during the month Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency, you were 250% richer ten years later. If you waited for the turn of the Millennium to put your money to work in U.S. stocks, you were 35% worse off two years later.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR POINT? Certainty or uncertainty about the future is an unreliable basis for building wealth. Ryan Patterson, CFA, CFP®, our Chief Investment Officer, puts it this way: “When everyone is feeling good about the future, the prices of financial assets are higher, reflecting that feeling. When few people feel good, prices are discounted and opportunities are greater.” If you invested in U.S. stocks

SO -- THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE THEY STAY THE SAME? Circumstances may change but financial behavior should be disciplined, not reactive. Most families benefit from the coaching of an experienced, 100% fiduciary wealth advisor. That is the model we follow at Linscomb & Williams. We have the credentialled and experienced team ready to sit down and formulate a plan for your success right now, right here.

Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman discuss how to adjust wealth planning during uncertain market conditions following COVID-19. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)

2727 Paces Ferry Road SE Building Two, Suite 1475 Atlanta, Georgia 30339 770 333 0113 www.linscomb-williams.com

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


18 | Commentary

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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.

Sisters in arms find an online home in Georgia military women group

If you picture a typical military veteran, is your image male or female? If it’s male, you’re not alone. “When we tell people we’ve served, they think we’re the spouses of service members, not that we have served,” said

We are not a support group. No drama, politics or religion allowed. Just ladies hanging out with others who know what it is like to serve.

Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-

retired Army Sgt. 1st Class TanyalineSmith ofabout Dunwoody. Sandy Springs and writes people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at worthknowingnow@gmail.com.

“When I first started making civilian friends and told them I had jumped out of airplanes, they would go, ‘What?’” said Carmen Morales of Brookhaven, the first woman in the Georgia Army National Guard to reach the rank of com-

mand sergeant major, the highest an enlisted soldier can achieve. These are but the tip of the iceberg for women military


The Georgia Military Women logo was temporarily altered for the pandemic with an image of the coronavirus and a social distancing message.

vets transitioning to civilian life. For most of them, serv-

called “GA Military Women,” open

ing in the military wasn’t what they did. It was who they

to all of the state’s female veterans,

were and still are - women committed to leadership, self-

who number nearly 93,000, according to the Georgia Depart-

discipline and personal accountability. And for years they

ment of Veterans Services. “We are not a support group. No drama, politics or religion

lived and worked with people who defined themselves the

allowed. Just ladies hanging out with others who know what it

same way.

is like to serve,” is the group’s self-description on a public Face-

In addition to the challenges facing their male coun-

book page for the group.

terparts -- finding employment and a place to live, getting healthcare and understanding their benefits -- some studies

The club has no dues or budget. It’s a private place online

in the early 2000s suggested they are more likely to be fac-

where the almost 4,000 members can get vital information

ing them alone due to lower marriage rates and higher di-

about veterans services, ask and answer questions, share suc-

vorce rates.

cesses and disappointments, help members in need, and organize member events throughout the state.

One veteran who learned that the hard way is former

“Women vets are natural leaders,” said Stevens. “I have more

Navy Lt. Amy Stevens, who holds a doctorate in education

than 50 leaders around the state [who organize events].”

and is a licensed professional counselor.

“We’re all welcome at all events,” said Morales.

After 11 years of active duty and a medical discharge, she

Stevens posts ceremonies, concerts and other public events

began work at Johns Hopkins University on her master of science degree. The single mother of a special-needs child, with no one to help with childcare, no health insurance and

Tanya Smith of Dunwoody, Army sgt. 1st class (ret.).


on the public page. Especially popular before the pandemic were the free veterans’ tickets to the Atlanta Opera. Lately, the group has been discussing coronavirus-related is-

medical bills of $30,000, she and her son survived by being

sues like using the Veterans Affairs services, National Guard

“essentially homeless” for six months.

call-ups, and making surgical masks.

“I sold my house and my nice car, bought a used car, rented a room from a church lady and had my son stay with a

“It’s where we connect with our sisters in arms,” said Smith.

friend,” she said.

“A lot of people appreciate people who serve but think we

She came to Atlanta for a job with the U.S. Department of

joined because we didn’t have any options,” said Morales. “But

Labor, where she worked for 11 years, along with two part-

we wanted to serve. Everybody in ‘GA Military Women’ gets

time jobs to pay off her medical debts. She eventually re-

this. You don’t have to feel weird.”

connected with the military as the director of psychological

“I wouldn’t change the trajectory of my journey at all,” said

health for the Georgia National Guard, where she provided

Smith, who gave up her position as director of New Jersey’s larg-

counseling sessions.

est juvenile male offenders program to join the Army as a military intelligence linguist.

“People told me everything,” she said. And what she

As civilians, all three women are continuing their life of ser-

heard was often troubling.


When she left the National Guard in 2012, she decided to provide a resource for women veterans and invited a few

Morales is a program analyst at the Social Security Adminis-

women friends from the Guard to join her “in a little Face-

tration. Smith travels the world as a leadership consultant and

book group” called “Georgia Military Women.” It grew into a private, members-only Facebook club

Carmen Morales of Brookhaven, Army command sgt. maj. (ret.).


author. Stevens serves as a Red Cross disaster mental health


JUNE 2020

Commentary | 19


A hike down Memory Lane, and toward the pandemic’s end He was my high school boyfriend. I hadn’t seen him in decades (I won’t say how many), but we reconnected on Facebook because I had jumped on social media to peddle my book (“The Best of the Nest” — get your copy now!), and he contacted me last September when he and his wife happened to be in town. We had a double date for lunch, each of us with our spouses, and we talked to each other of our lives, our kids, and our plans for the future. As we chatted over our Thai food, I congratulated my teenaged self for dating such a nice guy. And I recalled that somehow back then I knew that, great as he was, he wasn’t quite right for me. Of course, I wasn’t right for him, either, a point which became even more glaringly clear as our conversation progressed and they discussed their plans to through-hike the Appalachian Trail together. Wow. Talk about a goal! I mean, I like to walk, but there are limits. I did my bit on the AT when I was young, when my shoulders were sturdy and my back was strong and I Robin Conte lives with her didn’t even know that knees could “go bad.” I did it at a husband in an empty nest time when, if I knelt down to get something off the floor, in Dunwoody. To contact I didn’t groan when I got back up. her or to buy her column But they were determined. They had done their recollection, “The Best of the search, making plans and preparations for more than a Nest,” see robinconte.com. year, all of which heightened their enthusiasm to undertake this ambitious trek. They embarked in late February, documenting their journey with photos and mile markers. I followed them from the comfort of my laptop as they hiked in the rain and the snow, water dripping from their rain gear and smiles beaming through spattered camera lenses. And I gawked in amazement at her. There she was, filtering creek water and pitching tents! She was eating her own dehydrated spaghetti! She was balancing her way across rivulets on fallen logs while carrying a 30-pound pack on her back! She was sleeping in shelters infested with mice! MICE! I’m all for nature, but I don’t want it nibbling on my feet while I’m trying to sleep. I viewed their posts, and two thoughts took hold in my mind and stayed there for a while: 1. Whew! Dodged that bullet! and 2. She’s a boss. I also considered, as I followed their adventures on Facebook while watching the world shutter in peel-off fashion, that they picked a good time to stay away from civilization, to hike up and down mountains in relative isolation and enjoy expansive views of the ranges of our East Coast. I was happy for them, and I imagined that they must feel grateful to be enjoying the world in separation from the havoc caused by a sinister virus. Then I heard that the AT was closed. And my heart broke a bit for them, as it breaks every day for the small business owners who watch their life savings being swallowed up by the lockdowns and the employees who sink into the quicksand along with them and the doctors and nurses and all in their field who brave each day to meet our medical needs. The couple had made it into Tennessee, had traveled for 37 days and hiked almost 400 miles. They had persevered as long as they were able, even as their fellow hikers left the trail and the hiker towns became more deserted. They hiked until ultimately, at the beginning of April, it became illegal to continue, and, understanding the safety measures being put in place, they had to abandon their trip. They were proud of what they had accomplished, as well they should be, and they are hopeful that one day they can return to pick up where they left off and ultimately fulfill their dream. I wish that for them, and I wish that for all of us.

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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

Around Town On Mother’s Day, shortly after the governor of Georgia lifted his statewide shelter-at-home order for most Georgians, David Schulman spotted a group of his neighbors gathered around an ice-cream truck parked near a playground in his Sandy Springs condo community. “What really amazed me was there was nobody wearing masks, nobody standing 6 feet apart,” he said. It looked like little had changed from the days before the world stopped in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Unfortunately, there were too many people around,” Schulman said. “It went against the governor’s guidelines.” Schulman, who’s 57, thought this crowd could and should have done a better job of following the rules set by the state. He saw little evidence that the group followed any of the state’s social distancing recommendations, even though a sign was posted nearby asking that residents “please keep social distancing.” He thought it seemed kind of bizarre. And it bothered him. “I’m taking the ap-

proach – I have from early, early on — that I try to minimize risk as much as possible,” he said. Schulman didn’t report the gathering to local officials, but he said that when he went out to walk his dog, he took a few photos of the crowd, and later posted a comment on Facebook. Others who have questions about recent social gatherings have contacted local authorities. Representatives of Sandy Springs, Brookhaven and Dunwoody all said those city governments in April or May had received complaints — not many, but a few — about people who are not following the state guidelines for public gatherings or business closings. Some complaints went to city officials through emails or public comment channels, such as city call centers, or cropped up on social media. Others went directly to police. City officials usually responded by checking out the size of the gathering and asking people to abide by the rules. Violation of the social distancing rules can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, accord-

When safety comes down to politeness and self-policing ing to the governor’s order, but local city officials said they knew of no arrests for violations. For the most part, Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun said, people “are doing the right thing” when they get together, so there appear to be relatively few gatherings to complain about. “It’s really self-policing,” she said, “and folks are doing a good job with it.” But if neighborhood gatherings don’t embrace social distancing rules, then residents themselves become the eyes of the community on social distancing enforcement. Neighborhood scolds who not so long ago might have been complaining on social media about school issues or cracked sidewalks now are replaced by folks raising red flags about too many kids playing in the park. That puts some of us in an uncomfortable position. If you’re worried that too many people around an ice cream truck can be a breeding ground for coronavirus, then you’re put in the position of being the one who breaks up the party. That’s no fun.

Who wants to be the neighbor who called the cops on kids eating ice cream? “My biggest concern was that people weren’t taking this seriously,” Schulman said. “Pray to God there were no viruses spread. This is how it happens — just like in California, from a church, where somebody with the virus [attends] and that’s all it takes. I err on the side of caution and expect the community to do the same.” He argues he shouldn’t have to force others to follow the rules. It’s a community issue, he said, and we all have to look out for one another. Following the social distancing guidelines is nothing more than a way of politely acknowledging the concerns of other people who are worried about the spread of a deadly disease. “To me, it’s very simple,” he said. “To do things a little more safely, with more respect for the neighbors.” So, show a little respect. And, of course, remember to stand 6 feet apart and to wash your hands.

We’ll restart strong. And we’ll restart together. We’re here to help your business keep growing. When you’re ready to restart, count on us to help you reach further. We’re here for you—then, now and tomorrow.

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JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

Special Section | 21


SPECIAL SECTION Parks and Recreation

After weeks of sheltering-in-place, crowds head to Georgia state parks BY COLLIN KELLEY Even at the height of the pandemic, Georgia State Parks remained open to offer a change of scenery, a place to stretch your legs, and a brief respite from the onslaught of virus-related news. With the shelter-in-place order lifted, some parks are experiencing large crowds on certain days and admission may be limited to ensure social distancing and protect the health and safety of the public and park employees. But don’t let that stop you from going, especially if you want to get some mountain air, take in the view, or go on a hike. Before you head north, be sure to check gastateparks.org for the latest updates on what is open. As the state continues to loosen restrictions, more park amenities will

wild (Headwaters, Dawson Forest and other sections) as it winds through national forests and state wildlife management areas to rural and even urban. The river is home to more Native American fish weirs than are found on all other Georgia rivers combined and historic sites, including the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, dot its banks from Dawsonville to Rome. The river passes through three state wildlife management areas (Dawson Forest, McGraw Ford and Allatoona) the Chattahoochee National Forest and numerous local parks. For more information, visit etowahwatertrail.org. Cloudland Canyon ► Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon is one Continued on page 22

A new life awaits in Asheville become available to the public once again. Amicalola Falls ▲ At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Visitors have choices on how to best view the tumbling waters, ranging from an accessible pathway to a challenging trail with staircases. An 8.5-mile trail leads from the park to Springer Mountain, the southern end of the famous 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail. The park’s picturesque lodge is open for stays and is taking health and safety precautions amid the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information, visit gastateparks.org/ AmicalolaFalls. Etowah River Water Trail With the exception of the upper reaches of the river (Hightower and Etowah Falls sections), Etowa is rated as a Class I river with occasional small shoals and rapids, which makes it suitable for novice paddlers. Scenery along the river ranges from BK

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22 | Special Section

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Continued from page 21

passes some of the most outstanding scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roadside overlooks provide spectacular 80-mile vistas, and four hiking trails lead visitors past wildflowers, streams, small waterfalls and lush forests. The park’s small lake is popular with anglers and circled by an easy walking trail. The park has reported some busy days, so staff may limit the number of visitors to the overlooks, trails and lake area. Visit gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain for updates.

of the largest and most scenic parks in the state. Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife, the park offers ample outdoor recreation opportunities. Hiking and mountain biking trails abound. The most popular hiking paths include the short Overlook Trail, strenuous Waterfalls Trail and moderate West Rim Loop Trail. Mountain biking is available at the newly developed Five Points Recreation Area and along the Cloudland Connector Trail. Guests seeking an overnight experience can choose from fully-equipped cottages, quirky yurts or several different types of camping and backpacking options. Reservations are required. Visit gastateparks. org/CloudlandCanyon. Hardman Farm ► Georgia’s newest state park, which opened in 2015, is the 173-acre Hardman Farm located in historic Sautee Nacoochee, just south of Helen. The farm is best known for a favorite landmark: The gazebo-topped

Nacoochee Mound, a burial site probably used long before the Cherokee inhabited the area, which sits in the middle of verdant cow pasture. At press time, the house was still closed for tours, but the trails through the park

are open. For updated information about the farm, visit gastateparks.org/HardmanFarm.



Black Rock Mountain Georgia’s highest state park encom-

Tallulah Gorge ▲ Visitors can hike rim trails to several overlooks but permits to access the gorge floor and for climbing were suspended at press time. A suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls. Tightrope walkers have twice crossed the gorge, and visitors can still see towers used by Karl Wallenda. Officials have reported heavy visitation and the park often closes after reaching capacity due to social distancing. For more, visit gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge.

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JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016

Special Section | 23



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Scenic Drives

Committed To Excellence

Take a mountain daytrip and see the sights safely from inside your car BY GIANNA SMITH BEDFORD AND COLLIN KELLEY If you’re hankering to get out of town, but also mindful of the COVID-19 outbreak, these scenic drives through North Georgia, Pine Mountain, and North Carolina make for the perfect social distancing daytrip.


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North Georgia

Traveling through White, Towns and Union counties, the nearly 41-mile RussellBrasstown Scenic Byway looks onto gorgeous vistas surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest. Wind through the mountain gaps and valleys of the Southern Appalachians, stopping for Instagram moments along the way. One of the best is atop Brasstown Bald, the highest natural point in the state and an ideal spot to watch the leaves turn brilliant colors in the fall. On a clear day, you can see Atlanta from the peak of Brasstown Bald, even though it’s more than 100 miles away. If you feel like some exercise, tackle the nearly two-mile round-trip hike to Dukes Creek Falls or a portion of the famed Appalachian Trail at the Hogpen Gap trailhead before hopping back in the car to continue your scenic drive. Spanning from Cohutta to Ellijay, the 56-mile Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway travels through the Chattahoochee National Forest, plus a number of charming towns. At Prater’s Mill in Dalton, observe a working 19th-century gristmill and cotton gin and pick up goodies at the general store. Don’t miss the many Civil War sites in and around town. After leaving Dalton, drive east to Chatsworth, where you can break for lunch and see the Chief Vann House Historic Site, a restored mansion built in 1804. This town is also home to Fort Mountain State Park, a great place to stretch your legs on a trail (there are more than 3,700 acres of them).

Cullasaja Falls

Continued on page 26

JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016



Special Section | 25

26 | Special Section

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 24

North Carolina

If you want to go a little further, head into North Carolina for to see the Cullasaja River Gorge, which offers a spectacular scenic drive along the Waterfall Byway between the towns of Franklin and Highlands. The fast-moving Cullasaja River tumbles down three major waterfalls alongside the 61-mile road that winds through the Nantahala National Forest. Visitors can drive their vehicles beneath the 120-foot Bridal Veil Falls and walk behind the roaring water at Dry Falls. The tallest falls are the Cullasaja Falls, which drop 250 feet. Cullasaja means “honey locust place” in the Cherokee language. The gorge is part of the trail followed by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540. The gorge and its waterfalls can be accessed along U.S. Highway 64/State Road 28 between Highlands and Franklin, which is part of the Waterfall Byway. The road is winding and narrow.

Pine Mountain

Scenic mountain views aren’t limited to North Georgia or North Carolina. A couple of hours south of Atlanta, the Pine Mountain Highway-Scenic Heights Road ( State Route 190) runs from Manchester to Callaway Gardens through F.D. Roosevelt State Park. There are numerous parking overlooks with gorgeous views overlooking the valley below and hiking trails. Stop at Dowdell’s Knob to see the view that President Franklin D. Roosevelt loved so much that he had a brick oven and picnic area installed so he could dine there when he was at the nearby Little White House in Warm Springs. For more information on these scenic drives, visit ExploreGeorgia.org, blueridgeheritage.com, or gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt.

Mountain Activities

▲The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC has reopened its park spaces, including the gardens and grounds with more than 20 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Be sure to visit biltmore.com for details and admission information. The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina are open, but at press time, most campgrounds remained closed. The forests are open for hiking, mountain biking, fishing and for scenic drives. Visit fs.usda.gov/nfsnc for updates. If you want to go glamping (that’s a mashup of glamourous and camping), then you’re in luck because Under Canvas is welcoming guests who want to add a touch of luxury to their outdoor getaway in the Great Smoky Mountains. Located near Gatlinburg, this ecofriendly site offers luxury canvas tents, daily housekeeping, on-site dining and more. Visit undercanvas.com for details. Coral Hospitality, which operates lodges for Georgia’s State Parks, has reopened Brasstown Valley Resort and Lodge in Young Harris, Unicoi State Park Lodge and Amicalola Falls Lodge, along with the restaurants. Social distancing will be in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Visit coralhospitality.com for details and reservations.

JUNE 10 - JUNE 23, 2016


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28 | Community

GDOT responds to I-285 toll lane questions, concerns BY JOHN RUCH

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Pill Hill overpass is biggest idea in Perimeter Center road project studies A conceptual illustration of the Medical Center’s Peachtree-Dunwoody/Johnson Ferry roads intersection turned into an overpass.


The Georgia Department of Transportation has issued its formal response to questions and concerns from hundreds of residents and officials about its controversial plan to add toll lanes to the top end of I-285. The responses cover such topics as access points on local streets and the overall design and purpose of the project. The responses follow public meetings in January to unveil preliminary designs for the lanes, which are intended to speed traffic as part of a metro-wide system, but would impact hundreds of properties and would turn some local streets into highway interchanges. Public comments were roughly split 50-50 for and against toll lanes, GDOT said. Most answers boil down to GDOT saying it is either studying the issue or considers the question outside of the project’s scope of discussions. GDOT issued its detailed response in April. The input from the public meetings will be used to create a “more refined project concept” that will be presented in another round of meetings, possibly in early 2021. GDOT continues to accept and respond to public comments at TopEndExpressLanes@dot.ga.gov. To view all responses, see majormobilityga.com. GDOT plans to add toll lanes -- separate from the existing highway lanes and in many places elevated on pillars -- along the top end of I-285 and on part of Ga. 400 between Sandy Springs and Alpharetta. The intent to speed up overall traffic by allowing paying drivers onto the toll lanes. The Ga. 400 toll lanes would carry MARTA rapid transit buses as well, and a similar concept is being studied for the I-285 lanes. The Ga. 400 proposal began earlier and is expected to start construction in 2022 and open in 2027. The top-end I-285 project is split into east and west sections. The east section, between Ga. 400 and Henderson Road, is expected to start in 2022 and open in 2028. The west section, between Ga. 400 and Paces Ferry Road, is expected to start in 2026 and open in 2032. Following the January meetings, GDOT said, it received 485 formal comments. Of those, 82 were in support; 109 were in conditional support; 250 were opposed; 33 were uncommitted; and 11 did not specify a position.


GDOT has touted toll lanes -- which it calls “express lanes” -- as a traffic congestion solution and has said their value is already proven by such recent examples as versions on I-75 and I-575. But its formal answer to a question about whether the I-285 project will perform as advertised in the long term was less committed. It says that “performance data” on existing lanes “indicate” improvements on reliability and “overall duration” of trips in both tolled and free lanes. “As the EL [express lanes] concept is relatively new in Georgia, research and data analysis are ongoing,” the response says. Other big design points remain unknown, GDOT said, including where Georgia Power’s high-voltage lines in the right of way would be relocated, and how high the elevated lanes would be in any given spot -- though the height will range from 30 to 120 feet. Noise barriers can’t always be built prior to lane construction, GDOT said; as for putting them on the elevated lanes, the agency is evaluating the “feasibility.” GDOT said it is “evaluating the design changes necessary” to place a multiuse trail on a replacement of the Chamblee-Dunwoody Road bridge, as requested by the city of Dunwoody. GDOT said it got comments both for and against its plan to turn Savoy and Cotillion drives into one-way streets to serve the toll lanes. The plan is “necessary,” but the configuration and number of lanes is being studied. New access points for the toll lanes have been controversial, especially since GDOT says they must be different from the current entrances and exits for free lanes. The agency said it received multiple comments about eliminating, moving and adding access points, but showed little interest in altering most of them. The most controversial has been one proposed on Mount Vernon Highway over Ga. 400, due to possibly adding tens of thousands of cars to daily local traffic. GDOT said a traffic study will be done and alternatives are being studied. Many other impacts of local concern, including air quality, water runoff and lighting, are part of ongoing environmental reviews, GDOT said.


BY JOHN RUCH johnruch@reporternewspapers.net

Turning the Medical Center’s main intersection into an overpass is the biggest -- and probably least likely -- road project among several that the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts has in the planning stages. More lanes for faster turns and easier access to Ga. 400 are a general theme of several projects that project director John Gurbal presented at an April 28 quarterly update from the PCIDs, two jointly operated, self-taxing business districts in Perimeter Center that spend much of their money on transportation improvements. The following are some of the new projects PCIDs is studying or planning.

Pill Hill intersection

The intersection of Peachtree-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads is the heart of the Sandy Springs Medical Center, known as Pill Hill. Clogged at rush hour, the crossing tends to be wide open at other times. The PCIDs is about a year into preliminary study of some sort of improvement, with traffic counts and other groundwork already done. A big idea from the first brainstorming, Gurbal said, is to turn the intersection into an overpass, with east-west through-traffic running beneath Johnson Ferry. “Too bad it wasn’t built that way to begin with,” said Gurbal in an interview, adding that such a structure “would be huge” and “may not be possible” due to right of way and emergency-access conditions. The next step is an alternatives analysis that will include more modest ideas, including small turn-lane changes. The PCIDs is also waiting to coordinate with a traffic safety study, including a look at crosswalks, that Sandy Springs city staff intends to do, according to Gurbal. A city spokesperson declined comment pending a City Council approval of such a study.

Ashford-Dunwoody median and path

Moving quickly toward construction are plans to add a median, a multiuse path and more turn lanes to a section of Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven. The section is between Lake Hearn Drive and Perimeter Summit Parkway/Oak Forest Drive. The joint project with the city is nearly ready to start a design phase, Gurbal said. Construction could start in late summer.

Abernathy ramp to Ga. 400

This proposal would add a new right-turn lane from Peachtree-Dunwoody Road southbound at Abernathy Road westbound that would provide no-stop access directly onto the Ga. 400 northbound ramp. A separate but related plan would add a similar turn lane on Abernathy from Mount Vernon Highway westbound to Peachtree-Dunwoody northbound.

Hammond Drive/Ga. 400 turn lane

This project would extend an existing right-turn lane from Hammond Drive westbound to Ga. 400 northbound. The lane would be extended to the Concourse Parkway intersection.

Other turn lanes

The PCIDs is considering various turn lane additions and extensions, in some cases by eliminating existing medians. Some of the locations include: Crestline Parkway at Peachtree-Dunwoody and Mount Vernon Highway; Perimeter Center West at Central Parkway; Perimeter Summit Parkway at Ashford-Dunwoody Road; and theGlenridge Connector at Johnson Ferry Road. BK


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30 | Community

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City Hall begins reopening, requires mask-wearing Continued from page 1 park facilities as they reopen. Large community events won’t restart until Aug. 1, using advance registration to aid in limiting attendees to simplify social distancing. Employees and members of the public will be required to wear face masks in City Hall and other municipal buildings. The City Council on May 26 approved an ordinance requiring that “cloth face coverings” be worn in any public city building. Police will have the authority to remove anyone who does not comply. The city will take “reasonable steps” to provide masks to people who show up without one for city business “that must be done in person.” The ordinance takes effect June 1 and will continue until repealed by the council. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health authorities say that wearing face masks in public can reduce the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus and its COVID-19 disease. When city residents visit City Hall and several city parks, they’ll see a free-standing JetSouth hand sanitizing station set up outside. Inside the facilities, personal

protection equipment (PPE) will be worn by employees. The city has acquired PPE supplies, including sanitizer, masks and gloves for employees and visitors. Installation of plastic windows at the reception area and permit counter will increase safety for employees and visitors. The lobby floor is marked to show appropriate social distancing. The city encourages residents to attend public meetings virtually. Those who attend in person will keep 6 feet apart through reconfiguration of conference rooms and the City Council chamber. Dog parks, passive athletic field use and singles tennis play start June 1. Athletic fields reopen on June 1, but will be limited to passive use and groups of 10 or fewer. League play will be handled by specific applications. Skyland Small Dog Park gets limited to 5 or fewer people, with the large dog park’s limit set at 10 people. Brookhaven Dog Park has a higher limit of 20 people. A monitoring system will be established. Recreation centers, gyms, camps and rentals restart with limits on June 15. Doubles tennis resumes on June 15, the same date Brookhaven reopens many recreation facilities. Ashford Park Com-

munity Building and youth camps in the park will be limited to 10 or fewer participants, as will recreation programs. Lynwood Park and Briarwood Recreation Center reopen that day. Facility rentals resume for groups of fewer than 50 people. Outdoor basketball courts, restrooms and playgrounds reopen July 1. Outdoor basketball courts, restrooms and playgrounds will reopen on July 1.


Lynwood Park is among the parks that will have facilities reopen.

Rentals of shelters, pavilions, meeting rooms and other facilities with more than 50 people will be allowed. And recreation programs can begin to have more than 10 participants. — John Ruch and Erin Schilling contributed


Fo r ov er t wo d ecad es, the Perim eter Co mm unity Improvement Distric ts has invested in acc es s, mobility , and qu alit y o f life to c reate a s ignatu re d est inat ion for co rpo rate head qu art ers, hos pit ality, and ret ail.

To learn more about how we improve quality of life in Central Perimeter visit perimetercid.org BK

JUNE 2020

Community | 31


Restaurants seek elbow room in the pandemic’s distanced dining Continued from page 1

popular component to any restaurant location,” said Scott Amoson, the director of research at the Atlanta office of the real estate firm Colliers International. “I would think going forward, however, this will be an even more important aspect to incorporate into a restaurant’s location.” But another long-term social distancing trend could hit restaurants hard, and it’s completely out of their control over their square-footage and chairs. The lower attendance in offices as employees shift to teleworking will be “real hurt” if it becomes a new normal that eats into the lunch-catering business, said Richmond Green, director of operations at the Atlanta-based quick-casual chain Gusto. “That’s one area where we’re not sure things are going to return to normal,” said Green. “A lot of businesses have discovered that working remote is not just some futuristic thing that only Google does. ... There may never be a time where people gather in offices for hundred-person lunches. And it may be a long time before businesses take the risk of bringing people back to the office when they can safely work from home.”

Moving outdoors


Gov. Brian Kemp allowed dine-in restaurant service to return in late April. Under the current language of his emergency order, which was scheduled to run at least through June 12, restaurants are limited to 10 patrons per 300 square feet and 10 patrons per table. Michael Starling, the economic development director for the city of Dunwoody, said those rules boiled down to one message: “you have to find more space.” That’s because even 50% occupancy would not be enough for most restaurants to survive. Outdoor seating is a popular solution both to increase the footprint and because the open air is considered generally lower-risk for coronavirus transmission than indoor spaces. The cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven quickly offered temporary permits to allow certain forms of outdoor dining. But restaurants and customers locally and around the metro area were already adapting on their own with ad hoc solutions. Amoson said he saw many examples in his home area in Atlanta’s southern suburbs, where standalone locations of chains like Outback used strips of land outside their stores for tables with umbrellas. “ I’ve also noticed people in general (including my family) have purchased their food to-go and then gone to sit on walls, or throw a blanket out on public spaces nearby,” said Amoson in an email. Earlier on, my family would purchase to-go and then have a picnic in the back of my truck in the parking lot. It was at least something different than eating at home and got us out.” Verde Taqueria in Brookhaven Village was among those that quickly moved outside. The restaurant has a patio, but already had converted it into a pickup spot for takeout orders. So to make outdoor seating, the restaurant put three picnic tables in parking spaces marked off with traffic cones. “We just got parts of our parking lot

blocked off. And we’re letting people order food and sit out there as they please,” said Manuel Gonzalez, general manager of the restaurant. Verde is in a mixed-use building that shares parking with other businesses and residents. Gonzalez said the restaurant owners were in discussions with the tenant association about the temporary setup. Amoson said jerryrigged seating solutions likely can continue, with any rulebending overlooked, while the pandemic comeback continues and restaurants attract potential customers for neighboring businesses. But, Starling said, some friction eventually will take hold, as other businesses will eventually want to use parking spaces, too, among other possible conflicts.

But seating is an important part of the business and its intent to be a “destination” for customers. And that loss of office catering is a significant one that has the chain strategizing. And social distancing may have some long-term impacts on the way the chain does business. “I don’t think we’re going to do away with dining rooms when we’re looking at space in the future. I think we will look for more drivethrus,” said Green, adding that the Chamblee location has done the most consistent pandemic business because it has one. Gusto is also thinking about increasing the size of patios, as well as working with shopping center landlords to create “community spaces to eat outdoors” that could be used by a number of restaurants. A distanced Then there’s the biggest future? X factor of all: customer demands. Green said Gusto is Will the pandemic mean already seeing customers long-term changes to the without masks and hearway restaurants operate? ing demands to open the inWhile uncertainty is the store seating. Public tolerpandemic’s main trait, flexance for new ways of doing ibility in design seems to be business may wane. the main answer. “We’ve been telling our For Darren Benda, the guys… that for a couple of PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER new owner of El Azteca in months, the restaurant inTop, outdoor dining in the pandemic on May 23 at Louisiana Bistreaux Seafood Kitchen on Piedmont Road in Buckhead meant Dunwoody Village, it’s not dustry earned a lot of grace tables spaced apart and a server in a mask and face shield. an abstract question. He and earned a lot of sympatook advantage of the pan- Above, red X’s of tape mark tables as off-limits to maintain social distancing thy,” said Green. But after at the HOBNOB Neighborhood Tavern in Town Brookhaven on May 24. demic closures to speed up that period with “zero cusinterior renovations of the tomer complaints,” he said, restaurant. He says that the “as people are starting to feel interior will not be changed specifically to safer, we’re going to get less grace.” prepare for any prolonged pandemic fall— Bob Pepalis contributed out, but that flexibility remains a design principle. “The beauty of our space is that 95% of the seating and tables can be rearranged for various patterns and occasions. So we will adjust whenever the rules and regulations allow for that,” he said. For Gusto, the pandemic is a test of the old normal, as the chain had the unfortunate timing to open its new “Chastain” location in Buckhead’s Roswell Wieuca Shopping Center on May 8. The restaurant opened as scheduled, but in a low-key fashion to avoid drawing crowds and with its roughly 50-seat dining room still unused. Green, Gusto’s director of operations, said that the quick-casual business model allowed the opening to do decent business, since it already had takeout and delivery built in -- though delivery takes a bigger cut of the revenue -- and the Chastain location has patio seating. After an initial hit, the chain’s counter business is back to near normal, said Green, with customers including nurses from nearby Piedmont Hospital flocking to the original location on Peachtree Road in Brookwood Hills.

JUNE 2020

| 32


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