AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017 • VOL. 11 — NO. 16
Buckhead Reporter Park over 400 planning begins
► Retiring to the North GA mountains
► Chasing waterfalls in state parks
SPECIAL SECTION | P18-26
BY EVELYN ANDREWS email@example.com
A proposed park capping Ga. 400 is moving into a planning and design study phase after a close, controversial approval vote July 26 from the Buckhead Community Improvement District board. A BCID press release issued before the vote touted a groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting timeline, but there is still no guarantee the park will be built. The 4-3 vote approved funding for the first phase of the planning and design study, which will begin in August and last five months. The study will prepare for engineering and design work and look at how to create a nonSee PARK on page 30
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A rendering of a side view of the Buckhead MARTA station, Ga. 400 and the proposed park.
EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Sharing wisdom of ancient ages
The effects of white flight in the 1970s following integration efforts are still seen today, leading to some public schools having ample funding while some severely lack in resources.
OUT & ABOUT Wing it with butterflies
BY EVELYN ANDREWS AND JOHN RUCH
What is your local school’s biggest challenge? Page 28
See COMMENTARY, Page 14
Mayoral candidates must court Buckhead, observers say
As the Atlanta mayoral election draws closer, political experts and former mayors believe Buckhead’s status as a business community and boldness in making demands means the community will play an important role as city voters choose a successor to Mayor Kasim Reed. But despite changing demographics and candidates with strong roots in BuckSee MAYORAL on page 16
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AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017
Community Briefs HOLOCAUST DENIER HOSTS BOOK TOUR EVENT IN BUCKHEAD David Irving, one of the most famous Holocaust deniers, visited Buckhead as a stop on his book tour July 20. His visit became international news after a guest at the book tour and private reception allegedly drew a swastika on a menu and handed it to a waitress, WSB-TV reported. The event was held at Antica Posta on East Paces Ferry Road near Peachtree Road. The restaurant owner was unaware who Irving was when making the reservation, according to WSB-TV’s reporting. The reception was a stop on Irving’s book tour advertised as, “David Irving looks back: My fifty years defending Real History against its enemies. An evening with the historian.” Irving stopped in Buckhead before making his way to several cities in Florida, including Miami and Melbourne, and after stops in Montgomery, Ala., and Nashville, Tenn., according to Irving’s website, irvingbooks.com. The ticket purchasing site does not display venues, only the city, and says ticket holders will be notified of the venue 24 to 28 hours before the event.
BUCKHEAD COALITION DONATES $60,000 TO NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS The Buckhead Coalition announced July 28 it has donated nearly $60,000 to Buckhead parks. The funds came from leftover money given to the coalition 20 years ago to renovate Triangle Park, which is now known as Charlie Loudermilk Park. The coalition divided the nearly $60,000 among six parks, with the largest sum going to Chastain Park, the city’s largest public park, located at Buckhead’s northern border. The Blue Heron Nature Preserve on Roswell Road received the next largest amount, the release said. A smaller gift is being made to Mountain Way Common in the North Buckhead neighborhood. The Duck Pond park in the Peachtree Heights East neighborhood, Overlook Park, a PATH400 park near Peachtree Creek, and a connector to North Fork Peachtree Creek Trail in the Lindbergh-Morosgo neighborhood also are receiving contributions. The Duck Pond is privately owned by the Peachtree Heights East Neighborhood Association, but is a personal favorite of Sam Massell’s, the Buckhead BH
Community | 3
Coalition’s president, he said. Livable Buckhead will administer donations to Mountain Way Common, Overlook Park and North Fork Peachtree Creek Trail park. The last two are still in formation, and the coalition wanted to help them get started and become fully formed parks, Massell said. The money came from a grant awarded to the coalition from the Bank South Foundation in the late 1990s to use for Triangle Park renovations, Massell said. Not all the funds were used and sat untouched until the coalition recently decided to dole donations out to various parks. Charlie Loudermilk, Aaron’s Inc. founder and owner of the nearby Buckhead Theatre, later donated funds to completely redesign Triangle Park and it was later named after him. The park sits between Roswell and Peachtree Roads and Sardis Way. The coalition chose to donate the funds now in celebration of “Parks and Recreation Month,” as designated by the National Recreation and Park Association, according to the release.
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4 | Community
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Hill cites education, transportation in governor’s race BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
Hunter Hill says he’s giving up his local state Senate seat for a Governor’s Office campaign to focus on two issues: education and transportation. Hill, a Republican whose District 6 includes parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, talked about his campaign during a recent visit to the Reporter Newspapers office. He said he wants to offer school choice to all Georgians, no matter their income level. “Right now, only the top 1 percent have choice in education. I want to expand choices and opportunities for all Georgians,” said Hill, who lives in Smyrna. Expanding transportation options is also a priority for Hill because “it’s a liberty issue,” he said, although he is not keen on heavy rail transit, citing its high cost. “Maximizing liberty for our citizens means expanding choices,” Hill said. His ideas for expansion options include driverless cars and increasing highway capacity. He said he would get the right people around the table to determine what metro Atlanta will look like in 30 years and how to plan effectively for the future. Hill has joined a crowded field of candidates for the 2018 election to replace
term-limited Republican incumbent Nathan Deal. Other candidates include Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, state House of Representatives Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans. Hill has served as the District 6 state senator since 2012, after defeating incumbent Democrat Doug Stoner. Hill narrowly beat Democrat Jaha Howard in 2016, by about 3,000 votes. Howard has announced another run for the state Senate seat. Others who have announced or filed campaign paperwork include Democrats Jen Jordan and Nigel Raynard Sims, and Republicans Matt Bentley and Leo Smith. While Hill’s 2016 election win was close, he said he believes a Republican will win the state Senate seat. “District 6 will continue to be a district represented by a Republican, and I certainly hope that for the citizens of the 6th District,” Hills said. That senator will also have unique opportunities as a senator for an influential part of Georgia, he said. “The next senator for the 6th District will be a voice at the table and somebody that’s going to have the opportunity to make an impact on day one of their service because this is an influential part of
the state,” Hill said. “I look forward to seeing which Republican is that person.” Hill supported the Opportunity School District, Gov. Nathan Deal’s measure that would have allowed the state to take over failing public schools and was rejected by voters last year. But he said that as governor, he would opt for supporting voucher programs instead, which would give state funding to students attending private schools. “What we need to truly reform education is to have competition,” Hill said. Hill supports voucher programs because he wants lower-income families to be able to have more school choices for their children and not have to rely on public schools, he said. “It will challenge the status quo in broken schools,” Hill said. “We certainly need to make sure that the least among us have school choice.” If elected governor, Hill said he would rely on his experiences serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and Iraq, running a small business and representing an influential district in the Legislature. As the only Republican state senator whose district includes parts of the city of Atlanta, Hill said he worked well with the city’s Democratic leadership. He said he has formed a good relationship with May-
State Sen. Hunter Hill.
or Kasim Reed’s administration, and hopes to do so with the next mayor. “The Mayor’s Office came to me often to help the city when they needed help. Having developed that relationship in the past, as governor, I would continue to work with whoever is elected to move the common interests of our state and city forward,” Hill said. One example Hill gave of working with the city was helping to raise the squarefootage requirement before a building would have to report energy and water use to the city. Hill said this helped protect small businesses from requirements that they couldn’t meet.
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All options on table for Atlanta’s Transportation Plan BY EVELYN ANDREWS
“If driving alone is the fastest and cheapest, that’s what people are going to choose. It’s Atlanta’s Transportation Plan just human nature,” he said. is bringing everything to the taMoore also mentioned the ble to quell congestion in the possibility of having the state city. At a July 25 update meeting Legislature allow charging in Buckhead, ideas included: intolls to use some neighborhood SPECIAL creasing Piedmont Road’s capacroads, if the drivers are not resTim Keane, the ity, creating elevated bus lanes idents. That would help keep Department of on routes into the city from the City Planning outsiders from using neighborcommissioner. suburbs, and reducing parking hoods as shortcuts. or increasing its price. In surveys, people in every ZIP code An update to the 2008 Connect Atlanin the city chose expanding rail transit ta Plan, the new Atlanta’s Transportation as an improvement they thought the city Plan would guide transit and infrastrucshould invest in. In Buckhead, 71 percent ture planning in Atlanta as the city popuof residents surveyed thought rail transit lation rises from about 500,000 to a proexpansion should be an investment. jected 1.3 million over the next decades. Reducing congestion followed, with Some details still aren’t fully deter64 percent saying it should be invested mined as consultants will continue draftin, and 58 percent chose roadway maining the plan for another month before tenance. Other neighborhoods’ choices presenting it to the city. Consultants preincluded pedestrian, bike and sidewalk sented the update to get public input at a infrastructure improvements. July 25 meeting held at the MARTA headTim Keane, the Department of City quarters on Piedmont Road. Planning commissioner, stopped by a The consultants shared recommenBuckhead Business Association weekly dations for transit expansion, monetary meeting on July 27 to discuss the plan. At incentives to not drive alone, expanded that meeting, Keane said that as the city bike sharing and improved sidewalks. grows, Atlanta will have to address BuckOne tool they are not suggesting, said head’s “shortcomings,” including sprawl Paul Moore, a consultant from Nelson/ and threats to the tree canopy. Nygaard Consulting Associates, is buildWhile many cities have grid road sysing new roadways, which typically bring tems with high density, much of Atlanta, more congestion and does not solve probincluding Buckhead, is more spread out. lems, Moore said. “We can’t build our Buckhead’s urban development is spread way out of congestion,” he said. along one “spine,” Peachtree Road, with The basic idea of the transportation neighborhoods and tree canopy running plan is to decrease the amount of people alongside it, Keane said. driving alone in their commute, which “We will have to be protective of both is currently almost 55 percent of drivthose environments,” he said. ers. For Atlanta’s traffic to be sustainable The projected population is expectand congestion be tolerable once anothed to more than double over the next deer 800,000 people move here, only 37 percades, and Keane said this provides Atcent of people will be able to commute by lanta an opportunity to build the city driving alone, Moore said. residents want to have. To accomplish that, the city will have to “We are on the threshold of a period make transit, biking, walking or another alof change that gives an opportunity to ternative form of transportation faster and shape the city that we haven’t had in a cheaper than driving alone, Moore said. long time,” Keane said. email@example.com
Community | 13
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14 | Commentary
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Commentary / APS must continue graduation, testing gains As we open the schoolhouse doors on a brand new school year, Atlanta Public Schools continues its journey of transformation into a culture with a childcentered mission and vision. Our goal is to make an even deeper connection with our students, our parents and caregivers – our families. We need all of our APS families to join with our teachers, principals and staff in focusing on preparing every single student for college and career. That begins by getting students to school on the first day and every day of the school year. Every day is a day of instruction, an opportunity to learn.
© 2017 with all rights reserved reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC.
transformation together, I pledge to continue to do my part to work diligently to foster a transparent, collaborative environment for our families and stakeholders. I look forward to being your partner in helping to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our children.
Meria Joel Carstarphen is superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.
Community Survey: What is your local school’s biggest challenge? It’s about the money. When we asked participants in our 1Q survey to identify the greatest challenge facing their local grade schools in the coming year, nearly 40 percent cited school budgets. One 66-year-old Brookhaven woman put it simply: “More funding!” Of the 200 respondents, 18 percent saw administrative leadership as the biggest challenge facing their local school. Another 16 percent listed state or federal standards governing schools as the top problem. Respondents to the cellphone-based survey of residents in communities served by Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown were asked to choose one primary issue from among seven issues facing schools, or to choose “other” if the listed issues missed the mark. Choices ranged from classroom subject matter to parental involvement. The smallest number — just 4 of the 200 respondents, or 2 percent — saw school buildings or facilities as the
greatest problem. Asked how best to improve education locally, survey respondents found areas needing fixing in about every part of the school system. Some respondents pointed to classroom teachers. “Hire better qualified teachers who are accountable for results,” a 61-year-old Sandy Springs man wrote. Others took fault with school administrators. “Have strong, honest leaders that know how to budget and lead,” a 36-yearold Atlanta woman said. Still others looked to parents for a solution. “It starts with parents teaching kids at home,” a 42-year-old Atlanta woman said. And others looked to the larger community as the source of, and potential solution to, local school issues. “Deal with the root causes,” a 22-yearold Buckhead woman responded. “Racial and class divides manifest themselves in the geographic composition of the city, and the effects of white flight in the 1970s fol-
lowing integration efforts are still seen today, leading to some public schools having ample funding while some severely lack in resources.”
What is the biggest challenge affecting education in your local grade school in the coming year? School budget 39.5% Administrative leadership 17.5% State or federal standards 16% Parental involvement 12.5% Class subject offerings 5% School building or other facilities 2% Other 7.5%
Here’s what some other respondents had to say: “Providing more resources to schools, for both students and teachers.” --22-year-old Atlanta woman “More community involvement.” --55-year-old Sandy Springs man. “Better paid teachers.” --31-year-old Brookhaven woman
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We are making great progress on this journey. Last year, we finished our first full year with all of the transformational components in place -- a year that saw more than 2,400 beautiful students walk across the stage with their high school diplomas in hand, more than any year in recent history. We also saw significant gains in academics, as shown in our Georgia Milestones results, where about two-thirds of our schools – 17 more than the previous year – saw gains. We must strive to achieve even more student outcomes in this new school year. As we continue on this journey of
“Raise money for better qualified teachers.” --20-year-old Brookhaven woman “Please get rid of the constant standardized tests. Teachers teach for the test instead of imparting knowledge.”
--58-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs man “Get the government out of it. Teach life skills, i.e. balancing checkbook, the value of money, how to use and not use credit.” --50-year-old Atlanta woman “Strong leadership and effective communication with students and families will lead to an improvement in the education system.” --18-year-old Buckhead woman
percentage of what they do in class. Also provide better infrastructure because the schools in my area are old and overcrowded. Speaking of - class size is a major issue because it only allows teacher to teach to the average student.” --44-year-old Brookhaven woman “More parent involvement and better funding for the arts.” --36-year-old Brookhaven woman “Better funding for public schools - in all areas.” --54-year-old Sandy Springs woman
“Let teachers build their own curriculums. Let them have autonomy over a BH
AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017
Commentary | 15
Life on the edge of pasta I had done it. I had pushed my kids over the pasta edge. That day came last week when I asked my kids what they wanted for dinner, and one of them answered, “Nothing that rhymes with ‘maghetti.’” And I thought I was doing so well. I wasn’t even using a jar of Ragu; I was making fresh tomato sauce with my own home-grown tomatoes, the noodles were Italian, the parsley hadn’t gone bad, there was garlic involved ... The problem has been the summertime — that time of year when schools are out and college kids come home and the house becomes once again full of people who eat. Robin Conte is a writer It’s the time of year when the homebound ecosystem beand mother of four comes skewed. The box of orange juice that used to last who lives in Dunwoody. for a week is gone in two days, cereal is inhaled, and baShe can be contacted at nanas don’t even stand a chance of turning brown. firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s the time of year when my mental Rolodex of recipes gets stuck on “nothing requiring more than 10 minutes of effort,” and life is lived on the edge of pasta. I mean, the kids get a summer break from school — why can’t I get a summer break from cooking? So, for two out of three meals a day, I let them fend for themselves. Summertime is survival of the fittest in my house. You want to eat? Go forage for food. Of course, I can’t actually send them to the backyard to hunt rodents and eat ivy (although that would be helpful). I have to augment the food supply, and that means constant trips to the grocery store. I see the cashier at my local supermarket more than I see my own husband. I do tend to stock our shelves with food that I like or food that I think is healthy. That creates an improbable mix, and the food pyramid in our house is a bit wonky. At the base of the pyramid is a constant supply of ice cream (made from the milk of happy cows) and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate nonpareil candies (they’re high in iron). Forming the pyramid’s middle are a drawer full of Vidalia onions and organic zucchini (three weeks old), several containers of Greek yogurt (plain), and hummus. At the pyramid’s apex are a box of rice crackers and a jar of pumpkin butter. I did come home once with three bottles of pink lemonade, which I had purchased for a bridal shower that I was co-hostessing. As I unpacked them, one son gave them the look he usually reserves for puppies in pet-store windows and said in a pitiful voice, “I’m guessing those aren’t for us, are they?” It did the trick. I opened a bottle and poured him a glass. But my point is that there is food in the house, and it flies all over me when my kids complain that there isn’t. “Mom, there’s nothing to eat,” they whine, circling me like the rebellious pack of hyenas from “The Lion King.” “Yes there is, too!” I insist. “Look, there’s chia seeds! Rice cakes! Arugula!” They stare at me, blankly. I open the crisper in the fridge and continue, “Celery! Cream cheese! Hot dog buns!” They perk up. “Are there any hot dogs?” “… No.” I rummage around some more and find a package of lunch meat. “Here,” I say, handing it to them. “Use this on the hot dog buns. It’ll be good.” There are only a handful of days left before school begins and I’ll be once again free to eat as I please, breakfasting on cappuccino and lunching on a protein bar and a head of lettuce without worrying about the offspring. But the school year also tends to usher in a whole new kind of busy — a busy which too often dictates dinners on the fly. So, my Rolodex file will flip to “fast and filling.” I will know it has been stuck there for too long when one of my kids finally asks “what’s for dinner?” and follows it up by saying that he wants nothing that rhymes with “nac zamboni SPECIAL and sneeze.” Robin prepares the one meal a day her children
don’t have to forage for themselves.
Buckhead Backs Peter Aman for Atlanta Mayor Aman Endorsed by Councilwomen Yolanda Adrean and Clair Muller “With nearly $14 billion in transportation and water infrastructure on the line, we need a mayor with the background and the backbone to manage Atlanta’s finances and its future in a transparent manner. Peter is the candidate I trust – and who Atlanta can trust – to champion our city and its residents.” COUNCILWOMAN YOLANDA ADREAN, FINANCE EXPERT
“Peter is the one candidate who understands the need for a regional approach to solving our traffic challenges through transit and expanded transportation options.” CLAIR MULLER, FORMER CITY COUNCILWOMAN, TRANSPORTATION EXPERT
Advancing Atlanta Together.
16 | Community
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Mayoral candidates must court Buckhead, observers say Continued from page 1
head, the community is still anybody’s for the taking if they are willing to work for it, said Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political science professor. During Shirley Franklin’s tenure as mayor from 2002 to 2010, she learned Buckhead residents are demanding about improvements they want to see in their community. Those improvements are often similar to what the rest of the city wants, she said, using the “Buckhead to Bankhead” comparison, a phrase that is meant to compare two very different communities in racial demographics and wealth. Buckhead is wealthier and has a larger white population than most of the city, according to U.S. Census data and the Atlanta Regional Commission, which plays into its role in elections. Former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell, now the president of the Buckhead Coalition, said Buckhead is vital to the success of Atlanta and candidates would be wrong not to vie for its support. “Obviously, we play a very key role in development of the city,” Massell said. Buckhead represents about 20 percent of Atlanta’s population, but contributes about 45 percent of the city’s tax revenue, Massell said. That makes the community
Left, Sam Massell, Atlanta mayor from 1970 to 1974, is now president of the Buckhead Coalition, an exclusive business group. Middle, Andra Gillespie is a political science professor at Emory University and specializes in African American politics. Right, Shirley Franklin served as Atlanta’s mayor from 2002 to 2010.
vital to the city’s success, he said. The business community is the heart of Buckhead and it feels an “important responsibility to seek out the best people to lead the city,” said Massell, who heads a business coalition in Buckhead. The business community in Buckhead will be looking to protect itself, Massell said, and, in doing so, protect the whole city. “We’ve got a great thing going in Buckhead and that makes all of Atlanta great,” Massell said. Massell, whose coalition has formed a
political action committee to vet mayoral candidates and will ultimately endorse one, said he is looking for a candidate to address Buckhead’s main problems with specific proposed solutions. “The main three concerns of Buckhead are taxes, traffic and crime, not in that order,” Massell said. “Candidates need to provide more than generics on how they’ll address those. They need specific policy recommendations and to really give them thought,” he said. Franklin said that when she was may-
or, Buckhead residents’ input was one way she learned what issues she needed to tackle. Massell and Charlie Loudermilk, the influential Aaron’s, Inc. founder and philanthropist, also would call with advice and as Buckhead advocates. Most Buckhead issues she ended up addressing might not have been on her “Top Five List” of topics when she began running for the mayor’s office, she said, but she took advantage of Buckhead’s input when crafting policy. Buckhead issues she dealt with included crime, sewer leaks, public parks and nightclubs that stayed open late into the night and brought crime. Franklin recalled a neighborhood meeting in Buckhead held shortly after she was elected. Someone shouted out on the issue of transportation, “If you do what the community wants, next election we might for vote you.” “Here I am, first-time mayor and he’s threatening me for the [next] election,” Franklin said, as she laughed at the memory. “That’s my welcome. Buckhead taught me not to take myself so seriously.” Franklin said not every community was that bold in demanding what they want, but they all feel the same way, and they often have common interests.
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Community | 17
While all candidates have their neighborhood roots, Franklin said, it would have been unethical to direct resources to her area, southwest Atlanta, with favoritism. She believes citizens would agree, she said. “I just don’t think that’s the kind of leadership Atlanta has ever looked for,” Franklin said. Massell agrees that Buckhead will not look for special treatment, but instead for a mayor with “integrity, the temperament to be a mayor and who is passionate about the responsibility of the mayor’s office.” Gillespie said because some candidates call Buckhead home — including Peter Aman and Mary Norwood — others will be working hard to also be seen as competitive there. In the runoff for the 2009 mayoral election, Norwood beat Reed at every Buckhead precinct, but she ultimately lost the election by around 700 votes, according to the Fulton County Board of Elections. The mayoral race has attracted a crowded field of at least 18 candidates. Massell said he fully expects a run-off election between the two candidates who get the most votes during the Nov. 7 election. “I don’t remember any period where we’ve had so many credible candidates,” Massell said. As one of the more Republican areas in Atlanta, as shown in 2016 presidential election voting, Buckhead voters could coalesce around candidates who they feel share their viewpoints, Gillespie said. Gillespie also said it is early in the race and many still are determining who they want to see as mayor. Franklin said she feels the same way. “It says to me that it’s anybody’s race,” Franklin said of the number of candidates with significant fundraising or other support.
Norwood leads in recent polls, but other candidates appear to be organizing strongly and have records of winning important elections, Franklin said. They include Ceasar Mitchell, the current Atlanta City Council president, and John Eaves, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners chairman. Because some candidates who are white have polled well, some take it as a sign Atlantans may choose the city’s first white mayor since Massell’s election in 1970. But Gillespie said that early polls are not that significant. “I wouldn’t look at the current poll standings as evidence Atlanta’s next mayor will be white,” she said. Buckhead is also becoming more diverse. Since 2000, the African American population in Buckhead has increased from 6 to 12 percent, according to 2010 census data. The white population decreased from 83 to 76 percent over the same time. But there are some factors that could lead to electing a white mayor, Gillespie said. The view that a black mayor will heal or soften racial divides may be waning, said Gillespie, who specializes in African American politics. “People may be less invested in believing the optics of having a black mayor are important,” she said. Massell said he was partly elected to heal racial divides in 1970, but feels race is not as much of an issue today as it has been in the past. “I don’t it’s very important to single out as an issue,” Massell said. When Massell was first elected, racial divides were seen as the main issue that needed to be addressed, he said. “It was not a question of being able to promise mass transit, but to address frictions racial divides created,” he said.
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A SPECIAL SECTION
Chilling in the Mountains
Pre-retirees starting search early for dream mountain homes BY KATHY DEAN
“It’s amazing to live in a beautiful mountain community that’s 30 minutes Cool weather, beautiful landscapes from the north Atlanta suburbs, and just and a relaxed lifestyle all help to make 30 minutes from the start of the Appathe mountains a perfect place to settle, lachian Trail,” said Robin. “More imporand many metro Atlantans plan to retire tantly, though, are the wonderful people there. Not everyone waits to claim their who live here and the many cherished little spot of heaven, though. More and friendships we’ve made.” more people are making the move to find They admit that mountain driving was or build their mountain retreat now, to a challenge at first, but added that they enjoy before and after retirement. quickly adapted. “While some driving is Keith and Robin Sievers label themrequired to get to everything we need, the selves “outdoor people.” They’ve settled essentials are close at hand,” said Keith, into their new home, a two-story moun“and we’ve learned to group our errands tainside home with main and terrace into enjoyable ‘urban safaris.’ ” levels, in Big Canoe, a gated private resKatie Wercholuk, marketing director idential community set in the rolling of Big Canoe Company, LLC, reported that mountains of Jasper, Ga. she has seen an increase in pre-retirees atThe climate and natural landscapes tracted to the lifestyle and options in Big of north Georgia are perfect, the Sievers Canoe. “Many metro Atlanta residents are said, and so are the amenities they enbecoming empty-nesters, but they’re still joy in Big Canoe, where they’ve found working while planning for the future bethe lifestyle they were looking for. The fore it’s time to retire,” Wercholuk said. community boasts a unique Jeep Trail, Old Edwards Club, between Highaward-winning 22+ mile trail system lands and Cashiers, was the spot where for hiking and biking, three dog parks, Lynda and Bill McNeeley found their three waterfalls, three lakes and scenic mountain home. “We both grew up in mountain landscapes. the mountains,” Lynda said, “but had always gravitated to the beach. We first went to Highlands in the late 1980s. The cool weather and great mountains, smells and activities drew us in. We bought a small cabin in town and went there about once a month for 12 years.” The McNeeleys joined Old Edwards Club in 2007 and bought their permanent retirement home in 2009. The house is a 2,500-square-foot cottage with a lovely screened-in porch and Big Canoe Company, LLC mountain view. Robin and Keith Sievers
The McNeelys at their mountain home.
“Every morning we wake to the same beautiful view,” Lynda said. “Our friends love to visit and come every year, and our grandchildren love it as much as anyone. Bill’s sister-in-law and some friends from Atlanta bought here after just one visit to Highlands.” Old Edwards Club offers a relaxed, family environment, and Old Edwards Inn & Spa, located in Highlands, spoils visitors with delicious food and wine, a nationally ranked spa and a world-class golf course designed by Tom Jackson. “We have something for everyone,” said Bill Gilmore, Provisional Broker, Highlands Cove Realty at Old Edwards Inn, and Realtor with PalmerHouse Properties. Lynda said that she and Bill adore Old Edwards, and everyone they’ve met is friendly. The McNeeleys added that there’s plenty to do, too. They walk to the golf course, pool and the best restaurant in town. There are wonderful pools and fitness, hiking, shopping galore, amazing waterfalls and the nicest merchants you could ever meet, Lynda said. “Add craft shows and great mar-
kets that offer every kind of food you can imagine,” she said. “It’s easy to find what you need to cook gourmet meals at home, so we rarely eat out.” While Bill is retired, Lynda still works full-time remotely as a Residential Mortgage Loan Officer with Fidelity Bank Mortgage, so many of their Atlanta trips are scheduled to coincide with closings or office activities that she wants to attend. It’s a wonderful setting for working and taking good care of her clients, she said. According to Gilmore, the area’s internet and cell phone service is first rate, making it a place where executives can take care of business when they need to, and then unplug and relax. Lynda has had no issues with mountain life. “It’s a quick two-and-a-halfhour drive to the city if I have a business commitment. And our community has a house watch during the off season, so we never have to worry about anything,” she said. “Just one phone call and they’ll check on anything for you. And they’ll even dig you out of the snow if you come during the off season. I love that!” Duane and Kim Champlin are currently overseeing the construction of their Old Toccoa Farm mountain retreat. “We had a weekend cabin near Blue Ridge before we retired, and we fell in love with the area,” Kim said. Old Toccoa Farm, just 85 miles north of Atlanta, is near historic Blue Ridge, Ga., and about 15 miles from the Aska Adventure Area, which features camping, hiking and water activities like tubing, canoeing and kayaking. Continued on Page 26 BH
AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017
Special Section | 19
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Blue Ridge, GA 4BR/3BA $489,000 Do you want Toccoa Riverfront? Custom, open plan home on banks of upper Toccoa River - master on main, upgraded kitchen, 3 living spaces, deck at water, 2 levels of 12x48 porch, outdoor living rooms. Sit on the deck and enjoy the sounds of the river.
Cherry Log, GA 2BR/2.5BA $449,000 Total Privacy and a Dream Home! 2884 SF on 3+ AC! Gated entrance, common areas, river access, paved roads. An entertainer’s dream. All the upgrades! Huge rocking chair front porch and enormous screened back porch. Spacious, gracious living. Wow!
Ellijay, GA 4BR/3BA $424,900 Come to Double Knob for unparalleled views. Oversized mountain top cabin - 3000+ SF on 1.6 Acres – Enormous living/dining/kitchen area. Walls of glass for jawdropping views, 2500 SF of decks, finished basement, outdoor fireplace. A very special place!
Blue Ridge, GA 3BR/2BA $397,500 Top of the Mountain – End of the Road – 21+ Acres – Cohutta Views. Special cottage home – one level living with oversized finished basement. Updated appliances, covered and uncovered decks, outbuildings, hiking trails, privacy, AND a TREEHOUSE!
Morganton, GA 5BR/3BA $325,000 Rare Find – 3962 SF Home on 4 AC of totally usable land. Open spaces, fenced area, creek. Over 1000 SF of decks – and a basketball court! Super sized kitchen, expansive living room, huge loft, fitness room. Upgrades! Inside practically brand new.
Ellijay, GA 4BR/3BA $299,000 Want resort amenities? 2564 SF home in Coosawattee River Resort – massive, open concept main room – loads of glass for year round mountain and river views. Terrace level custom in-law suite with full kitchen. Easy walk to fitness center and indoor pool.
Ellijay, GA 2BR/2.5BA $299,000 Dramatic modern Mountain home on 2 AC. 1552 SF open concept plan, wall of windows - year round Mountain and river views. Energy efficient Green home in “Common Pond” community. Green spaces, common areas, outdoor adventure at your doorstep
Ellijay, GA 3BR/3BA $239,000 Looking for year round mountain and lake views at a great price? 1820 SF cedar sided lake front home on .7 acres. Open plan – upgraded kitchen – 2 car garage with finished guest suite above. Blackberry Mtn S/D, gated, paved roads, river access.
Ellijay, GA 3BR/3BA $217,500 Looking for Rental Potential? Popular rental with loft, huge game room, hot tub, fire pit, covered decks. Seasonal mountain views. Coosawattee River Resort amenities - river access, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, fitness center. This one has what you want.
Ellijay, GA 3BR/2BA $199,000 SMALL price for a BIG cabin. 2488 SF cabin on .79 AC. Huge open living/dining/kitchen is perfect for entertaining – master on main, large loft, vaulted ceilings, hardwoods, oversized garage, rocking chair porch, fenced area for dogs or the kids & a fire pit for you.
Cherry Log, GA 2BR/2BA $149,900 Do you want a Fixer Upper with great potential? AND acreage? AND a mountain view? 2016 SF cabin on 4.97 Acres – full, unfinished basement. Creek frontage and small pond. Open pasture – paved access – A lot for the price – This will go fast!!
Cherry Log, GA 3BR/3BA $219,000 If you want creek front, paved access, all the upgrades and space for guests, this is IT. 1516 SF on 1+ AC. Large loft, vaulted ceilings, wood interior, fireplace, covered, open, and screen porches, finished guest retreat on terrace level. Offers good rental potential.
Blue Ridge, Georgia Blairsville, Georgia 274 W Main Street 706.632.7311
211A Cleveland St. 706.745.3500
Ellijay, Georgia 329 River Street 706.276.1254
Hiawassee, Georgia 430 N. Main Street 706.896.3132
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Retiring to the Mountains
Brokers see influx of buyers heading for the hills BY KATHY DEAN When the time comes to step away from successful careers, many active retirees are looking for a place to relax and enjoy the pastimes that they couldn’t fit in their schedules when they were working. The north Georgia and Blue Ridge mountains offer just that, with cool temperatures, breathtaking natural landscapes and plenty of opportunities for activities like golf, fishing, boating and hiking, to name just a few. Mark Reeves is an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker High Country Re-
alty Blue Ridge and half of “The Mountain Duo.” Reeves said, “My teammate is seeing a huge influx of buyers who have retired or plan on retiring soon. I’m the listing agent for the team and he specifically works with buyers.” The duo’s other half, Scott Nichols, also an Associate Broker with Coldwell Banker High Country Realty Blue Ridge, got more specific. “Over the last three to four years, at least 50 percent of my business has been coming from buyers moving here to retire. Continued on Page 22
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be at the center of a “remarkable confluence” of transit options, including PATH400, the MARTA Red Line and a major traffic corridor, Peachtree Road, Rogers said.
profit organization to manage the park, officials said. The July 26 meeting also marked the wrap-up of the concept phase and included new illustrations and a virtual 360-degree image of the proposed park, a description of potential economic benefits of the park, and a recommendation for the independent nonprofit to run it. The vote does not mean the park is ROGERS PARTNERS ARCHITECTS + URBAN DESIGNERS guaranteed to hapThe current park over 400 plans call for a redesign to pen, however, and the Buckhead MARTA station, and this rendering shows several more steps of what the entrance to the station could look like. planning and studying need to be done, said BCID ExecuThe three board members who voted tive Director Jim Durrett. against funding the next study phase District 7 City Councilmember Howincluded Shook; Robin Suggs, the genard Shook was one of three board memeral manager of Lenox Square mall; bers who voted against funding the and Tom Boyer, the general manager at study, saying he thinks it is premature JW Marriott Atlanta and the mayoral before funding sources for the park appointee to the board. are hammered out. A previous concept Suggs suggested the vote be poststudy phase identified many possible poned so board members would have funding sources and systems, but acmore time to review the phase of the knowledged that more study is needed. study presented at the meeting and to “I think we’re making a decision to understand what financial effects the buy a new car before we know if we can park would have on the BCID if it is afford it,” Shook said. built. “I think it would be very benefiThe board approved up to $262,500 cial for the board to engage in further to be paid to the consultants, led by conversation,” Suggs said. “I think we Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Deall need to have a better understanding signers. It also announced an updated as to where we are headed.” timeline for a possible 2020 groundShook said he has asked questions breaking and 2022 ribbon-cutting, publicly and privately for a year and which are sooner than previously prosome remain unanswered. Approving jected. The park could be fully operafunding for the next phase of the study tional by 2023. before identifying funding sources for If the BCID continues funding varithe park is premature, he said. ous stages of the study process, the next Funding sources have not yet been three years would be spent engineerdetermined, but Durrett said possiing, planning and starting construction ble sources include federal and state on the park, which would cap Ga. 400 grants, the Georgia Department of between Peachtree and Lenox roads. Transportation, MARTA and philanThe park, which was proposed by thropies. the BCID two years ago, would bring Jim Sprouse, executive director of 9 acres of park space to Buckhead and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Associawould include remaking the entrance tion, said he is concerned that additionto the Buckhead MARTA Station. Conal taxes will be levied against nearby struction is estimated to cost about hotels to build the park. The possibili$250 million, said Rob Rogers, a consulty of additional taxes is “always a contant leading the study. cern” for the already tax-burdened hoThe July 26 vote was taken after contel industry, Sprouse said. sultants presented the final phase of “It’s a bold, very exciting project, the concept study, which including the but our concern is the funding mechaconsultants’ estimates that the park nism.” Sprouse said. would bring millions in tourism dolThe city has met with the BCID about lars, thousands of construction jobs, the project and supports the park, a city new housing units and billions of dolspokesperson, Jewanna Gaither, said in lars of increased property value. an email. However, the city did not anConsultants also said this park swer follow-up requests for comment would be transit-oriented, bringing a after Shook voted against the park and projected additional $2.4 million in voiced his opposition. revenue to MARTA. The park would BH
AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017
Public Safety | 31
Police Blotter / Buckhead The following information, involving events that took place in Buckhead between July 9 and July 22, was provided by the Zone 2 precinct of the Atlanta Police Department.
1100 block of Mount Paran Road — July 18 2500 block of Edwards Drive — July 18 2200 block of Spink Street — July 19 3900 block of Arden Way — July 19
3100 block of Peachtree Road — July 9
3700 block of Peachtree Road — July 22
1800 block of Emery Street — July 10
600 block of Allen Court — July 22
1500 block of Marietta Boulevard —
2400 block of Claude Street — July 22
2400 block of Forrest Avenue — July 22
2300 block of Cheshire Bridge Road —
BURGLARY 1300 block of Chattahoochee Avenue
— July 10
ROBBERY 3100 block of Peachtree Road — July 12 1800 block of Howell Mill Road — July 17 1900 block of Piedmont Circle — July 19
700 block of Bismark Drive — July 11 700 block of Darlington Circle — July 13 2800 block of Macaw Street — July 14 3600 block of Roswell Road — July 15 2300 block of Paul Avenue — July 16 1000 block of Huff Road — July 16 2200 block of Adams Drive — July 17
Between July 9 and July 15, there were
50 larcenies from vehicles reported in Zone 2 and 34 reported cases of larceny and shoplifting. Between July 16 and July 22, there were 62 larcenies from vehicles reported in Zone 2 and six reported cases of larceny and shoplifting.
AU TO T H E F T
700 block of Sidney Marcus Boulevard
— July 17
There were 14 reported incidents of
3500 block of Kingsboro Road — July 17
auto theft between July 9 and July 15. There were 26 reported incidents of auto theft between July 16 and July 22.
600 block of Phipps Boulevard — July 18
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