8-4-17 Brookhaven Reporter

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AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017 • VOL. 9 — NO. 16


Brookhaven Reporter


► Retiring to the North GA mountains


► Chasing waterfalls in state parks


Price tag for park projects spurs sticker shock

Night Out hug break

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net


Brookhaven Police Officer Trent Williams gives police dog Thorr a hug at the National Night Out event Aug. 1 at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody. Police and fire departments from Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs joined in the ninth annual event, which is intended to build relationships between the police and the community.

EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATOR Sharing wisdom of ancient ages

With 102,000 students returning to DeKalb County and hundreds of teacher vacancies remaining, our community faces continued overcrowding along with all its negative impacts.

OUT & ABOUT Wing it with butterflies

First steps toward new Skyland Park underway BY DYANA BAGBY

What is your local school’s biggest challenge? See COMMENTARY, Page 14

See PRICE on page 16



Page 28

City Council members expressed surprise and concern at the $1.8 million price tag for proposed improvements to Murphey Candler Park and Georgian Hills Park – a total significantly more than estimated as part of last year’s parks master plan approval. At the July 25 meeting, council members approved $600,000 to build a new 1.9-acre open field and walking trail at Murphey Candler Park. However, when the parks master plan was approved last year, the estimated cost of this project came in at $136,400. “I know that estimating costs is not a perfect science, but that’s a pretty dramatic discrepancy,” Councilmember Linley Jones said of the nearly $455,000 increase. Metro Atlanta’s economy is currently strong and that affects bid prices by construction companies, said Parks and

Page 9

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst sat in the driver’s seat of an excavator on the morning of July 24 to take a ceremonial swing at the former Georgia Department of Public Health Vital Records Office building. The building, at 2600 Skyland Drive, is set to be demolished to make way for a new $3.05 million city park slated to open in January. Just a top corner of the building — where the “2600” for its address was located — came down after a few swats of the construction equipment’s bucket during the See FIRST on page 17

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The city announced a traffic island is being installed at Ashford-Dunwoody Road and Donaldson Drive. There will also be changes to the traffic signal at that intersection to eliminate left turns from Donaldson Drive. Signage of the changes will go up Aug. 1 and all work is expected to be completed by Aug. 15. The modifications are the final requirements of the Donaldson Road developments of regional impact study conducted as part of the Brookleigh multi-use development and approved by the Atlanta Regional Commission in 2007, according to a city press release. “This will be a significant reduction in the wait time at this intersection during each traffic light cycle during peak hours,” Brookhaven Public Works Director Hari Karikaran said in the press release. “Morning traffic inbound will see a 35 percent decrease in the wait time through this intersection. The delay for outbound traffic in the afternoons will be cut in half.” The Donaldson Drive traffic island installation is expected to facilitate right-hand turns from Donaldson Drive to northbound Ashford-Dunwoody and Johnson Ferry roads. Eliminating left turns from Donaldson Drive will extend the time for green lights for through traffic. Existing traffic on Donaldson Drive seeking access to southbound Johnson Ferry will be routed to Blair Circle, which was created for southbound access. There will be no change to Johnson Ferry inbound traffic turning left onto Donaldson Drive.


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The city is back in talks with MARTA about a “potentential Brookhaven town center” at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Station, as city spokesperson Burke Brennan described it. City Economic Development Director Shirlyn Brownell met with MARTA CEO Keith Parker on July 31. Officials have said there are no details yet. City Manager Christian Sigman told the Brookhaven Development Authority July 18 that the city’s objective is to work with MARTA in a partnership to develop the property. “In the end, it’s still MARTA’s land. The last [project] was developer-driven. This one we want to be partnershipdriven,” he said. MARTA’s planned transit-oriented development, which was to include multi-family residential and retail

space, was killed earlier this year after Mayor John Ernst ordered work suspended on tax incentives for the project.


City Council voted July 25 to approve spending slightly more than $41,000 to implement gate access programs for first responders to the 59 gated communities now existing in the city. Developers of new gated communities to be built in the city will be required to pay for the installation of radio frequency identification and siren operating sensor systems that will allow emergency vehicles to enter and respond within gated communities. The city is paying the $41,000 to retrofit existing gated developments. All new gated developments constructed after July 25 will be required to bear the cost of installation as a condition of their building permit.


City Council unanimously approved July 25 an ordinance clarifying mandates for sidewalks on all new and improved local residential streets in Brookhaven. In addition, bike lanes will also be required per the recommendations of the City Bicycle, Pedestrian, & Trail Plan and other planning documents. According to the ordinance, sidewalks are required on all sides of street frontage on all new and improved streets, unless determined to be infeasible due to severe cross-slopes, shallow rock, soil or topographic conditions. New sidewalks must be made of concrete and at least 5 feet wide. The new ordinance also requires that new bicycle lanes will be located in the outside lane of a roadway, adjacent to the curb or shoulder based upon the specifications in the Bike, Pedestrian, and Trail Plan. In instances of onstreet parking, the bicycle lane shall be located between the parking lane and the outer lane of moving vehicles.


The Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Department is bringing back goats to city parks to cull the land of invasive plant species, including the notorious kudzu vines. The city is renting the goats from Get Your Goat Rentals. The eating is underway at Osborne Park. Another herd of goats will begin eating their way through Briarwood Park in mid-August. BK

AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017

Community | 3


Task force reports affordable housing strategies BY DYANA BAGBY

include such ideas as requiring developers to provide “affordability impact statements” as part of any rezoning and permitA combination of requirements and inting process within the city that impacts centives could maintain some affordable residential and mixed-use development. housing in the city, according to a report The statement would quantify and provide delivered July 25 by the Brookhaven Afa record of the proposed projects’ impact fordable Housing Task Force. on the existing “affordable housing invenThe Task Force is hoping its recommentory” in the city. dations to the City Council “become part The Task Force also recommended the of the DNA of the city of Brookhaven” as city work with “appropriate developers” leaders work to balance rapid luxury housand consider the purchasing and holding ing development and places for lower- and of land during the permitting and zoning middle-income people to live. process to make affordable housing less exThe report was depensive for developers. livered by Task Force Another recommendation chair David Schaefer, includes the city talking with who is the director of the DeKalb County Land Bank advocacy at the LatAuthority to identify potential in American Associaparcels that may be either used tion, located on Buford to develop new affordable projHighway in Brookhavects or mixed-income projects en. or be used to establish a city “We didn’t think it housing trust. would be possible for The Task Force also suggestDYANA BAGBY [affordability] to rest ed preserving current affordDavid Schaefer, chair of the in any particular ordi- Affordable Housing Task Force. able housing, but Schaefer said nance, or in any parmembers recognized most of ticular set of rules,” Schaefer said, “but we the city’s affordable housing — mostly oldwanted to make sure it became part of the er apartment complexes — are not likely to culture of how we think as a city, how we be rehabilitated by property owners. value diversity, how we think about our Councilmember Joe Gebbia, who reprepeople and how we cherish the people at sents District 4, which includes residents the very heart of the conversation.” living and working on Buford Highway, The Task Force was formed last Septemnoted that for years he has tried to come up ber after community religious leaders apwith a contingency plan for residents disproached the City Council with their conplaced when an apartment complex is torn cerns of residents being priced out of their down for new development, as is now haphomes due to the city’s rapid development. pening with the Park Villa complex. Many of those being displaced lived in “You and I go back a long way on this,” apartment complexes along or near Buford Gebbia said to Schaefer. “This [displaceHighway, where a majority Latino and imment at the apartment complex] will probmigrant population resides. The 13-memably happen again … the probability is very ber Task Force started meeting last Octohigh. We’ve failed to come up with a good ber. strategic plan. ... This part about preserving One recommended strategy is inclu… affordable housing is what we were trysionary zoning, where developers of muling to do back then. I’m not sure about the tifamily housing are required to price a reality.” certain percentage of units as affordable. “We largely concluded that affordable However, the report does not recommend housing is Class C [likely located in lowerwhat that percentage should be, Schaefer income areas with residences that are 30 said. years old or more] or below,” Shaefer said. The city is currently undergoing a com“Nevertheless, we could see the possibility prehensive zoning rewrite and the Task of us missing something in the inventory. Force recommends the city consider an We wanted to make sure this is an option.” affordable housing requirement for highGebbia also asked about the reality of density developments and adding a densibeing able to add property in the city to the ty bonus for developers exceeding requireland bank. However, much of the property ments. DeKalb County owns in the city is located Recommendations to be included in the on floodplains and not suitable for developzoning rewrite also include exploring the ment, according to city officials. use of impact fee discounts as incentives “There is not a lot of available land in to encourage affordable housing units. ImBrookhaven,” Schaefer acknowledged. pact fees, which can be charged per unit on “The big issue is that to put something new certain types of real estate projects, are inin, something old has to go away. This is tended to offset the increased costs the city the ongoing challenge for Brookhaven and pays to support new developments with why we need to be innovative.” services such as policing or infrastructure. One of the challenges for development Brookhaven does not have impact fees yet, in Brookhaven is the profitability, Schaefer but has discussed establishing them. added. “Affordable housing is not a monOther wide-ranging recommendations ey-maker,” he said. A shortage of land condyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net


tributes to developers wanting to make the most money possible off their property, but the city can possibly find ways to “incentivize” developers to build affordable housing. Schaefer stressed that affordable and accessible housing “should not be an island” and there should not be attempts to segregate certain populations. He also said the city should work to present itself as a welcoming community. “The proactive stance would impact not only current members of the community, through more accessible meetings and distribution of information, but include visitors, business owners and, importantly, the development community,” according to Task Force recommendations. Rising rents are a major issue in Brookhaven, Schaefer said, with rent for a two-bedroom apartment averaging $1,382

per month. But he and the Task Force stressed that apartments are not the only way to provide affordable housing and asked city leaders to find ways and jobs that help families remain upwardly mobile enough to eventually buy their own houses. “I do believe homeownership is a key part of this. A goal is to get people into homes,” Schaefer said. The City Council and the Task Force recognize affordable housing is not an issue affecting only Brookhaven, but also the city of Atlanta as well as the entire nation and will be part of an ongoing conversation, said Mayor John Ernst. “This [Task Force report] is obviously just the end of the first sentence of a very long story,” Ernst said. To view the full Task Force report, see bit.ly/2vpUoaC.

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Brookhaven Innovation Academy appoints new head of school BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Brookhaven Innovation Academy began its second year of classes on Aug. 2 with a new head of school and a full enrollment of 480 students, including its first seventh-grade class. Terri Potter, former principal at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs for nine years, takes over the helm at BIA, succeeding former head Laurie Kimbrel. Kimbrel left BIA, the state charter school currently located in Norcross, after its inaugural year. Kimbrel departed to take an assistant professor post at the University of West Georgia’s College of Education. BIA Board Chair Jennifer Langley said Kimbrel gave the school the “CEO mentality” it needed during its first year and that the school is fortunate to now have Potter. “She’s fabulous. She’s geared up for at least a year or two as we do a more extensive search for a new head of school,” Langley said. “That will be the person who will take us into the future ... and we’re not in hurry; we want to take the time and find the right person.”

cent of students coming from Brookhaven, she said. There are 700 students on BIA’s waiting list, Langley said. The BIA board also is continuing to search for a permanent home in or around Brookhaven, she said. “Definitely, the goal of the board is to be inside I-285, so we’re on the search for that,” she said. “I think Brookhaven would be ideal.” The school’s budget this year is approximately $3.5 million, she said. When the school adds eighth-graders to its enrollment next year, the budget is expected to grow to closer to $4 million. Langley said charter schools such as BIA should SPECIAL spend only about 15 perBrookhaven Innovation Academy Interim Head of School Terri Potter, left, and Associate Head of School cent of their overall budTracy Islam welcomed students back to school Aug. 2. get on real estate. Going beyond that 15 percent Langley said the school this year has threatens the school’s success and abila separate wing for the sixth- and sevity to stay open, she said. enth-graders. The school boasts stuMoving BIA back into Brookhaven dents from 32 ZIP codes, with 40 per-

is already a campaign issue in the District 4 City Council race. Dale Boone, a competitive eater and a film producer in India, is challenging incumbent Joe Gebbia. During a July 30 gathering at International Café, Boone announced to friends and diners that if elected, he would work to bring BIA back into the city limits. “Our Brookhaven schools are broken, we know that. BIA offers free education for every child, period. As my campaign pledge and promise to you I’m going to work every day to bring back Brookhaven Innovation Academy from Norcross, Ga., to Brookhaven, Ga., to where it belongs,” he said. Gebbia, who helped found BIA as a City Council member and who sat on its board, said bringing BIA back to Brookhaven continues to remain a high priority for him, as well. But because BIA and the city are two separate entities, there is not a great deal the city can do to. It is not the city’s responsibility to find property within the city limits for BIA because the charter school is its own entity, Gebbia said. “But anything we [on the council] can do, we should do,” he said. “It is up to them to facilitate that occurrence.”




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14 | Commentary

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Commentary / Cross Keys faces overcrowded, aging schools Like every school year, this one begins with hope and anxiety around the cluster. Hope, because for many families the local public school represents opportunity when few other avenues seem open. Anxiety, because the recent dominant topic among parents and community members has been the egregious overcrowding and poor facilities conditions in the cluster. Stretching from Fulton to Gwinnett counties, through Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville, Cross Keys families are served by 10 or more public schools, including charter and choice schools. With the exception of the new Chamblee High School, all area schools are characterized by aging and inadequate facilities. The unprecedented allocation of nearly $200 million in eSPLOST V funds to address overcrowding comes with both relief and anxiety, too. As construction for three new schools and upgrades to others queue up in coming years, some families are losing their homes — in direct displacement in the case of the new elementary school for Doraville. Others are affected through indirect displacement through widespread gentrification in the region. The new capacity will also bring changes to attendance lines, bringing more uncertainty. This year, the nationwide issue of overcrowding and underfunding will haunt every school in the cluster. More temporary classrooms, also known as “trailers,” are being installed at Cross Keys High School on the athletic field. But overcrowding isn’t limited to Cross Keys – schools throughout north DeKalb County are at or over capacity and growing. It’s not just a local problem, either. Between 1990 and 2000, enrollment nationally increased by 14 percent. AccordCross Keys trailers

ing to the National Center for Education Statistics, the size of the student body across all U.S. classrooms will almost double by the year 2100. With 102,000 students returning to DeKalb CounDia Parker and Kim Gokce ty and hundreds are directors of the Cross Keys Founof teacher vacandation, which supports schools in the cies remaining, our Cross Keys High School cluster. community faces continued overcrowding along with all its negative impacts. At times like this, municipality leaders, community organizations, and all stakeholders need to come together to support our public schools and the dedicated educators who serve them. We are encouraged by the recent partnerships between the cities of Brookhaven and Doraville with DeKalb Schools. We at the Cross Keys Foundation will continue to expand our scholarship programs around the region, invest directly in area classrooms via grants, distribute quality books via our Little Free Library program, and foster youth development at our middle and high schools by sponsoring Atlanta Urban Debate League teams. With your support, and working together with other area stakeholders, we believe that in spite of the challenges, we can expand educational opportunities and positive outcomes for more children this year and every year. For more about the Cross Keys FounSPECIAL dation see, CrossKeysFoundation.org.

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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% BK

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. robinjm@earthlink.net. 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

Robin’s Nest

don’t have to forage for themselves.



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Price tag for park projects spurs sticker shock Continued from page 1 Recreation Director Brian Borden. “When the economy is great, contractors aren’t as hungry to work. They can pick and choose the projects they want to do,” he said. The council also approved a $1.2 million contract with Pro Building Systems for Phase I of the 3.6 acre Georgian Hills Park project that includes a sewer pipe replacement and construction of a half-court basketball court, a playground, a picnic shelter and redesigned parking. The estimated cost last year for this phase of the master plan was roughly $500,000. The base bid approved July 25 was just over $807,000. The Public Works Department is also requiring right of way and sidewalk improvements along Clairmont Road as part of this project to meet the mandates of the city’s bike and pedestrian master plan, so another $413,000 was added, bringing the total cost to $1.2 million, Borden explained. Councilmember Joe Gebbia asked if significant cost increases are expected for other master plans and if anything can be done so the council is not “blindsided” by such cost discrepancies. “Basically we’re seeing a doubling of

our original cost estimates,” Assistant City Manager Steve Chapman said. Borden said he was working with consultant GreenbergFarrow to come up with updated cost estimates for the 2018 budget. Councilmember Bates Mattison said the city should take another look at capital projects “based on realistic numbers.” “This highlights an issue we are going to have to face,” Mattison said. “If our master plan budgets are half of what they should be we need to take a wholesale look at all of this. “I do think we need to look at our master plans. The last thing we want to do is tell people this is the cost and then have to go to the bank.” Mattison also said the city should consider bringing project management in-house as a way to cut costs, rather than paying GreenbergFarrow for that work. “Because of the number of projects we are doing now, I’d like to look at possibly bringing that role in-house, because while GreenbergFarrow had done an amazing job of design, I think they are an outsourced party that is expensive,” he said. But Borden said he didn’t have the


The site plan for the new 1.9-acre open space at Murphey Candler Park shows a multi-use trail around its perimeter. Cost for the project jumped more than $400,000 in a year.

expertise that the contractor has. “If that’s the direction the council wishes to go we can certainly look at it, but in my professional opinion I would strongly oppose that,” he said. “They bring an added dimension to these projects … and are very knowledgeable about the parks construction process.” Funding for the projects is coming out of the city’s Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) budget, minus $40,000 for the sewer pipe replacement that is being paid from the storm wa-

ter fund. The city’s HOST budget is more than $8 million, Chapman said. The council approved an approximate $1.8 million storm water fund as part of the 2017 budget. The 2017 HOST funding amount approved for the Parks and Recreation Department includes $2.5 million for implementation of the parks master plan. Both projects are expected to be completed in January 2018.

glass recycling program in partnership with

ontaminant-free Recycle e Toward C d Glas A Mov s Effective July 17, 2017, the DeKalb County Sanitation Division will discontinue the placement of glass in curbside single-stream recycling, and offer residents dedicated county-operated glass recycling drop-off locations featuring a glass sort-separation process. Engage in this nationwide trend to divert glass from landfills, as DeKalb becomes the first county in Georgia to offer an official glass recycling drop-off program in an urban area. Please join the quest to make glass a more sustainable and valuable recyclable material.

DeKalb Glass Recycling Loop Glass food and beverage containers are 100% and infinitely recyclable 1

Residents purchase food and beverages in new glass packaging


Glass is sold to glass 4 manufacturers and made into new food and beverage containers and fiberglass

Residents rinse and store used food and beverage glass containers at home


Residents drop off and loosely place glass in county-operated glass recycling container

3 Glass is delivered to county-contracted glass processor, Strategic Materials Inc., for conversion to raw materials

Program’s Benefits • Extends a landfill’s useful life • Supports recycling and the closed-loop recycling process • Lowers production costs for glass container manufacturers • Creates jobs in the glass container and fiberglass industries • Conserves natural resources/Reduces the consumption of raw materials

For more information, please visit www.dekalbsanitation.com

Sanitation Division • Administrative Office • 3720 Leroy Scott Drive, Decatur, GA 30032 • 1.404.294.2900 • sanitation@dekalbcountyga.gov www.dekalbsanitation.com Follow us on Twitter @DKalbSanitation BK

AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017

Community | 17


First steps toward new Skyland Park underway

Left, Mayor John Ernst [wearing jacket] shows DeKalb Board of Education member Marshall Orson the site of the school district’s new elementary school in relation to the city’s new Skyland Park. [Photo by Dyana Bagby] Middle, an overhead rendering of the new Skyland Park features two sand volleyball courts. At right, state-of-the-art shade structures with solar paneling will be located in Skyland Park’s dog parks to allow visitors the ability to charge electronic devices, as seen in this rendering. Below, a rendering shows what the open field at the new Skyland Park will look like. [Photos City of Brookhaven]

Continued from page 1 ceremonial event that began the process of constructing a new 4-acre Skyland Park. The new park, designed by consultant GreenbergFarrow as part of the city’s comprehensive parks plan, will include two sand volleyball parks, two dog parks and an open field. Ernst said that shortly after he took office in 2016, the DeKalb County School District approached the city about a “tricky proposal” to sell and swap land. “They needed new land for a new school to help with the overcrowding occurring on the Buford Highway corridor and we had park plans to build brand new parks,” he said. The two entities agreed to come together and accomplish both at same time, he said. As part of the land deal, the DeKalb school system purchased the 10-acre Skyland Park site from the city for $4.7 million for its new John Lewis Elementary School. DeKalb Schools also purchased the vital records building from the state for $2.8 mil-

lion and then deeded that 4-acre property over to the city for a new Skyland Park. The DeKalb Board of Education recently awarded the contract to build the $22 million, 900-seat John Lewis Elementary School to Barton Malow. Early construction of the new school started at the end of July. The school is expected to be finished by August 2019 and open for the 2019-2020 school year, according to a spokesperson. “We at the Board of Education have recognized that the Cross Keys cluster has been under-invested and we are going to make amends to address that,” District 2 school board member Marshall Orson said at the July 24 event. District 2 includes Brookhaven. Orson said the deal between the city and DeKalb Schools “best exemplifies” the partnerships the current school board and Superintendent Stephen Green are trying to accomplish. “This is the model we think we need to be successful,” Orson said. Orson also said that DeKalb Schools will be spending $150 million over the next few years specifically in the Cross Keys

cluster — to build the new John Lewis Elementary School in Brookhaven, to build another elementary school in Doraville, to renovate the current Cross Keys High School into a middle school and to construct a new Cross Keys High School. Councilmember John Park, whose district includes Skyland Park, also praised the city’s relationship with the school system and said the two entities are listening to residents living around the new school and will be mitigating traffic by having buses use Dresden Drive. An underground storm water retention pond for the park will also be located on the school property. Amenities of the new Skyland Park will include two state-of-the-art shade structures that look like picnic areas and will be covered with solar panels. The solar panels will provide power to allow visitors to charge their electronic devices at the park. The city is working with Georgia Power Co. to put in a charging station for electric cars at the park. The main features of the park include

the two sand volleyball courts, two picnic shelters, a new restroom facility, an open space field, a large and small dog park and a natural playground area under a canopy of trees in the northeast corner of the park. Duluth-based Multiplex, the company doing the demolition and new Skyland Park construction, must remove asbestos materials before razing the entire building. New construction is expected to begin in August. The vital records office building was built in 1956, according to a spokesperson at the state Department of Public Health. At one time it was an elementary school.

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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 BK

AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017

Special Section | 19


Coldwell Banker High Country Realty Mark Reeves

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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

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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


AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017

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City Council considers special licensing for late-night clubs BY DYANA BAGBY

down,” he said. “We depend on the late hours,” he added. “Our clientele comes in between 12 a.m. Brookhaven bars may be required to and 3 a.m., after they just got off work.” have earlier closing times — or pay a highMayor John Ernst and the council asked er fee to stay open later — under a prostaff to determine how much it costs to paposed that police officials believe will retrol Buford Highway from midnight to 3 duce crime along Buford Highway. a.m., when police say they are especially But after listening to a lengthy discusbusy with incidents at late-night venues sion by council members at a July 25 work and are arresting people for DUIs. Most session, one Buford Highway club ownpeople arrested for DUI live outside the city er said he didn’t know if the council was limits, according to police. aware of what it was doAfter those costs are ing. determined, Ernst sug“They are trying to gested, the city could offer push and shorten hours. late-night venues the opBut they are not sure what portunity to pay an addithey need,” said Grman tional fee, or an “enhanced Berreta, owner of El Ocho permit” to stay open later. Billiards. “At some point, Assistant City Manager it looks like they are just Steve Chapman explained playing with hours.” how the additional license Currently, “last call” for work: if the city were to late-night venues is 2:55 a.m., with closing at 3:30 amend the ordinance to a.m. Restaurants may also have last call at 1 a.m. and stay open until 3:30 a.m., closing at 1:30 a.m., latebut are supposed to stop GRMAN BERRETA night venue owners who serving alcohol at 12:30 OWNER OF EL OCHO want to continue serving a.m. Chamblee and unin- BILLIARDS until 2:55 a.m. and close at corporated DeKalb Coun3:30 a.m. would pay more ty have the same service to be able to do so. hour limits for their bars and clubs; the cit“That would help us identify the organiies of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Atlanzations and the resources we need because ta’s bars must close at 2 a.m. we would know who is open those hours,” Brookhaven’s proposed ordinance rehe said. write would set the city’s last call for all It currently costs a business $100 in advenues serving booze at 2 a.m., with a closministrative fees to file for an alcohol appliing time of 3 a.m., to be in line with surcation to sell beer or wine and $200 to sell rounding cities. Police officials say earlier liquor. Other costs to have alcohol licens“last calls” could also help curtail violence es include monthly charges such as: $70 a and DUIs, especially on Buford Highway. month to sell beer or wine; $333 a month But Berretta said the city already tried for liquor stores; $91.66 a month for Suncutting back hours in 2014 to try to address day sales; and $50 a month for a patio perthe very same things. mit. “Back in 2014, the ordinance was The city currently takes in approxiamended ... and they shortened hours. Now mately $900,000 a year from venues servwe still have the same safety problems,” ing alcohol through license fees and excise he said. He also said his club, which he’s taxes, according to Chapman. owned for 16 years, primarily serves those The council is set to discuss the alcohol who work in the restaurant and cleaning ordinance at a future work session. No date industries and who work most nights until to approve the rewrite has been set. Staff is midnight or later and want to get a cocktail recommending it be done by Jan. 1, 2018, or food after they get off work. when businesses must renew their alcohol “What this [shortening hours] is going to do to businesses is just bring them licenses with the city. dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Back in 2014, the ordinance was amended ... and they shortened hours. Now we still have the same safety problems.

S Senior Life enior Life At lan Get fresh at ta


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Yoga to Fit Your Lifestyle page 16



5| AtlantaSeniorLIFE.co MAY 2017 • Vol. 2 No. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT



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Theatre-To-Go delive rs Live Performance s

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Assistance League helps rebuild lives

page 6

page 10

page 14

Leng A Lifetime of Learni ss is more page 12

By Donna Williams


Methodist Dunwoody United Gil Yates, about to begin at for his classmate Coast Indians was making a beeline A class on Pacific strode into the room, Church when a man OK.” approached. “Shuffling’sbuddy, who would not front row, center. said, as the man his “No running!” Yates is a year older than all in good fun. Yates The teasing was share his age: 91. with Perimeter Adults did but spring this name, classes reveal his 175 students taking The men are among most of whom (PALS). By Kathy for senior adults, Services education & Learning continuing the start.Dean year of providing been members from PALS is in its 25th need for of Dunwoody, have Wethe hear takes care of it all and his wife, Dot, and this kind of are 60-plus. Yates rings especially the time: less is more. The to help other people, phrase true for older “People our age want made lifelong friends.” adults who are empty nests and Yates said. “We have facing are4 ready to Continued on page fellowship,” Dot of their enjoy the lives. Intown and north metro second half many comforta Atlanta offer ble options for them. “Baby boomers have spent much working and of their lives building said Dawn Anderson their wealth for retiremen t,” , Realtor, Dorsey “As retiremen Alston Realtors. t becomes more of a reality, they plan their transition begin to to downsize. Ease and affordability of life, proximity are certainly the goals of most downsizing common boomers.” The trend of continues to grow, 55+ active adult commun ities Anderson said. well qualified “Baby boomers buyers and know are looking for.” exactly what they are Kim Isaacs, aged Avalon in Alpharet 58, said that her townhom e in ta gives her everything they and her husband want. “We had home in Johns lived in our previous Creek for 19 years. left for college, When our last we child and really didn’t decided that we wanted a change need a large house of us,” she said. for just the two




Continued on

Read our new monthly publication for active seniors! Pick up a copy around town or read online at atlantaseniorlife.com

page 4

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AUGUST 4 - 17, 2017

Public Safety | 31


Police Blotter / Brookhaven From Brookhaven police reports dated July 23 through July 30. The following information was pulled from Brookhaven’s Police-2-Citizen website.

POSSESSION AND DUI 100 block of Executive Park Drive — On

July 26, at night, a man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession. 3300 block of Clairmont Road — On July

27, in the early morning, a man and woman were arrested and accused of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana. 2100 block of Johnson Ferry Road — On

July 28, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession.

1400 block of Cliff Valley Way — On July

23, in the morning, items were stolen from a car. 3900 block of Peachtree Road — On July

23, in the afternoon, a car was reported stolen. 3800 block of Peachtree Road — On July

23, in the afternoon, a theft from a building was reported.

ARRESTS 3300 block of Buford Highway — On

July 23, in the early morning, a woman was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct. 3900 block of Peachtree Road — On July

23, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct. 2700 block of Buford Highway — On

23, in the afternoon, an entering auto incident was reported.

July 23, in the early morning, a man and woman were arrested and accused of theft of services.

3300 block of Buford Highway — On

2700 block of Buford Highway — On

3000 block of Clairmont Road — On July

July 23, in the evening, parts were removed from a vehicle.

July 24, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of theft.

Road — On July 28, in the early morning, two men were arrested and accused of marijuana possession.

2000 block of North Druid Hills Road —

2900 block of Buford Highway — On

3200 block of Buford Highway — On

1000 block of Barone Avenue — On July

July 28, in the morning, a woman was arrested and accused of marijuana possession.

2000 block of North Druid Hills Road —

July 26, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct.

3500 block of Buford Highway — On

On July 23, at night, items were removed from a car.

2600 block of Buford Highway — On

July 28, at night, a man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession.

1500 block of Tryon Road — On July 24,

4300 block of Chamblee-Dunwoody

2600 block of Buford Highway — On

July 30, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession.

On July 23, in the evening, an entering auto incident took place. 23, in the evening, a theft was reported.

THEFT AND BURGLARY 2000 block of North Druid Hills Road —

1000 block of Barone Avenue — On July

24, in the morning, a mail theft was reported.

ASSAULT 1800 block of Johnson Ferry Road — On

July 23, in the morning, a simple battery incident was reported. 3500 block of Buford Highway — On

On July 23, after midnight, entry to a nonresidence was reported.

July 23, at night, a battery incident was reported.

3700 block of Peachtree Road — On July

3100 block of Buford Highway — On

23, after midnight, a car was reported stolen.

3300 block of Buford Highway — On

3200 block of Buford Highway — On

July 27, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of public intoxication and illegal consumption of alcoholic beverages. 4000 block of Peachtree Road — On July

30, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct.

OTHER INCIDENTS 3700 block of Buford Highway — On

July 24, in the early morning, a hit-and-run incident was reported. 3500 block of Durden Drive — On July

24, in the afternoon, an extortion threat to injure another person was reported. 1400 block of Cliff Valley Way — On July

25, in the morning, a criminal trespass incident was reported. 4600 block of Peachtree Road — On July

25, in the afternoon, a hit-and-run accident was reported.

in the early morning, parts from a vehicle were removed.

3100 block of Buford Highway — On July

30, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving under the influence and endangering the life of a child.

July 25, in the evening, a man was arrested and accused of public intoxication and consumption.

July 27, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of rape.

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July 25, at night, a simple battery incident was reported.

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