NOVEMBER 2020 • VOL. 14 — NO. 11
Buckhead Reporter WORTH KNOWING
A PATH400 worker’s trail to a second chance P19
Shop local for the holidays ►
Exploring ‘tiny parks’
APS in-person delay divides local parents BY JOHN RUCH
Giving thanks in a time of crisis P16
Christie Jo Mayo shows off her farming-themed “tiny park” along the PATH400 multiuse trail on Oct. 17. Mayo was one of more than 40 participants in the “Big PATH, Tiny Parks” event, which celebrated green space and recycling. See story and more photos, p. 30. ►
Time for Perimeter cities to plan together? P20
City, MARTA team on Lindbergh-Armour master plan
BY JOHN RUCH
The city and MARTA are teaming on
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a master plan that will attempt to tie together partial or long-stalled developments in the Lindbergh/Morosgo and Armour neighborhoods. MARTA’s unfinished vision for transit-oriented development at Lindbergh
Center Station lies at the core of the Lindbergh-Armour Master Plan, and a bevy of new multiuse trails -- including a future Atlanta BeltLine segment -are prodding a closer look. The process is just gearing up with an intent to submit a plan to the City Council in June or See CITY on page 22
Atlanta Public Schools’ decision to delay a return to face-to-face instruction until sometime in January is dividing parents, especially in Buckhead, which has become a hotbed of back-to-the-classroom advocacy. Disagreements in interpretations of pandemic science and APS’s equity policy are pushing parents, teachers and staff into separate camps with Facebook groups. A group going by “Let Atlanta Parents Choose” appears to have been influential in Superintendent Lisa Herring’s early decision to start a face-to-face return in late October; another group called “We Demand Safety APS” appears to have helped pressure her switch to the delay. The pro-return forces are regrouping under the name Committee for APS Progress, intended to be a formal nonprofit organization. Laura Roxburgh LaHiff is a Buckhead mother with an eighth-grader at Sutton Middle and twin fourth-graders at Morris Brandon Elementary. She’s with the We Demand Safety APS group and welcomed the delay as a matter of health equity. “We are inconvenienced. We are not endangered,” she said of the virtual learning, adding that many others in the district without Buckhead’s privileges and options might not fare so well. “We’re all facing this situation together so we also have to keep an eye out for our friends, our neighbors… people that we don’t know with a view of kindness and compassion.” Shannon Schlottmann, whose son is a kindergartner at Morris Brandon, is in the Committee for APS Progress camp. She says virtual learning isn’t as good as in-person and is unfair to the students. See APS on page 27
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2 | Community
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The Atlanta City Council will consider establishing a system to register and tax short-term home rentals via legislation filed Oct. 19, the same day the council approved a ban on “party house” operations in residential areas. The flurry of short-term rental legislation after years of stalled proposals follows yet another idea still in council committee consideration. Last month, City Councilmember Howard Shook of Buckhead’s District 7 filed legislation seeking to ban short-term rentals in all single-family neighborhoods, a proposal that seems unlikely to pass but has sparked discussions. Shook — who is a neighbor of one of Buckhead’s currently notorious party houses on Roxboro Road — previously said he was frustrated with the lack of progress from city staff on legislation to register and license short-term rentals. On Oct. 19, Councilmember Andre Dickens filed legislation to create just such a system. Dickens’ proposal — whose co-sponsors include Councilmember Jennifer Ide of Buckhead’s District 6 — would regulate and tax short-term rentals. The proposed system would require a non-transferable “certificate” to operate a short-term rental. The certificate would attach to an individual property owner, not to the property itself. People could apply for a certificate for rentals at their primary residence and up to two additional properties. For three or more properties, the certificateholder also would be required to get a business license. The certificate could be revoked for repeated code violations. The proposal calls for the city to levy a tax of 8% of total booking costs on short-term rentals.
‘Party house’ ban
The “party house” ban legislation took more than a year to get through the city review process before its Oct. 19 adoption by the council. It targets large commercial events, such as parties and weddings, held in homes by operators who charge a fee. Such events often have been advertised through short-term companies, but also such other means as social media. Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit of Buckhead’s District 8 and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms proposed the legislation last year amid an eventually successful battle against such rentals at a lavish mansion on Garmon Road. They said that such uses were already banned in residential areas, but that vagueness in the city code made it hard to enforce. The newly passed ordinance change aims to tighten up that language and possibly the enforcement. “One, it calls attention to the issue, and two, it makes it clearly illegal to have a party house in a residential area,” said Matzigkeit in a phone interview. The ordinance defines a “party house” as “a single-family, two-family or multi-family dwelling unit, including all accessory structures and the dwelling unit’s curtilage [the land and buildings immediately adjacent to it], which is used for the purpose of hosting a commercial event.” Under the new code, party house uses will be banned in all areas zoned for singlefamily and multifamily residential uses. Party houses will be allowed with special permits in some other zoning areas — including mixed residential commercial and Buckhead’s Special Public Interest Districts 9 and 12 — but in those places still would be prohibited within 150 feet of an adjacent residential-zoned area. The ordinance defines a “commercial event” as including “parties, ceremonies, receptions or similar large-scale gatherings” where someone pays a fee to use the dwelling or charges an entry fee to those who attend. The ordinance exempts events that benefit nonprofit organizations, which includes political fundraisers, Matzigkeit said. The ordinance does not define what “large-scale” means. Matzigkeit said the intent is to target events with large impact in a neighborhood. “It’s not intended to cover smallscale gatherings,” he said. Violators can be charged in Municipal Court and face fines of up to $1,000 per offense. The new ordinance was praised by top short-term rental company Airbnb, which last year banned “party houses” under its own definition — referring to repeated code violators — and in August banned party rentals from its platform. “As a platform that bans both parties and party houses, we support the spirit of Councilmember Matzigkeit’s ordinance and commend him for his efforts to get it passed into law,” said a written statement from Airbnb. “We look forward to partnering with the city on additional measures to stop disruptive parties and protect Atlanta’s neighborhood quality of life.”
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Skyscraper’s garage could be topped with park, tie into other green space COUSINS PROPERTIES
An illustration of the park atop a proposed parking garage expansion at the Capital City Plaza tower at 3350 Peachtree Road.
BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
A plan to expand the parking garage at the Capital City Plaza skyscraper includes topping it with a park open to the public, with connections to the proposed HUB404 green space and another yet-to-be-built tower in the rear.
Cousins Properties showed the plan for the 3350 Peachtree Road skyscraper Oct. 7 to the Development Review Committee of Special Public Interest District 12, a local zoning district. DRC member Sally Silver called it a “vast improvement… Keep buying up those old places and make them new again. We love it.” However, she raised one point that DRC
members said will need research: whether the plan to cease using some surface parking spaces in an adjacent lot at 3354 Peachtree could remove that lot’s grandfathered status under zoning and render it illegal. For Cousins, the project and its connections to other potential improvements are ways to put a fresh shine on a 30-year-
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old tower that, according to Executive Vice President John McColl, just lost the major tenant Anthem to Midtown office space. The plan involves expanding the tower’s current parking garage roughly 120 feet to the rear, increasing its spaces from 663 to 1,004. Cousins plans to cease using 431 spaces in 3354 Peachtree lot, which it coowns with Regent Partners; because that is a separate property, it cannot be considered a net decrease in parking for zoning purposes, project engineer Charles Zakem said. Under zoning, Zakem said, the project could have a maximum of 1,133 parking spaces of all types. Atop the expanded parking garage would be a park depicted in conceptual illustrations as having lawns, plantings and winding paths. Also planned are a cafe or bistro with restrooms. The park and those amenities would be privately owned but open to public access. The project is intended to tie into the proposed neighboring developments. The 3350 Peachtree tower sits right next to Ga. 400 and the Buckhead MARTA Station. Thus, it is also next door to the site of HUB404, a plan for a park capping Ga. 400 between Lenox and Peachtree roads. Fundraising for that plan is currently dormant amid the pandemic, but will soon resume, according to Jim Durrett, the treasurer for a nonprofit conservancy planning it. And the 3354 Peachtree parking lot is where Regents and other partners have have proposed a roughly 40-story, mixed-use tower, also with a HUB404 connection. Zakem said the 3350 Peachtree plan includes a spot where a fence could be removed to create HUB404 access. An “art installation” could be placed there to draw attention to people using the park, he said. The park space could connect with open space at the future skyscraper, and the garage also could tie into that project for shared use by removing “kick-out panels” in its wall, McColl said. A more cumbersome feature in the meantime would be a large staircase rising up the parking garage wall from the surface lot. The plan also involves improving the driveway at Peachtree for better pedestrian and vehicle access, while installing utility ducts that could be used by the future skyscraper as well, the Cousins team said. The project does not need zoning variances, according to Cousins and an Atlanta Department of City Planning official. Earlier this year, Cousins undertook another green-space-oriented remake of another major local property, the Buckhead Plaza complex at Peachtree and West Paces Ferry roads.
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Community | 5
NPU system review enters a public survey phase BY JOHN RUCH A review of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Unit system has entered a public survey phase as it heads toward a wrap-up report early next year. The NPU system was established in 1974 by Mayor Maynard Jackson as a way for residents to give input on the city’s long-term development plan, in an era when many American cities created similar neighborhood groups. Today, there are 25 NPUs around the city, each named for a letter of the alphabet, serving a broader purpose of giving and getting information on virtually every city department. Buckhead covered by parts of NPUs A, B, C and E. A downtown nonprofit called the Center for Civic Innovation is undertaking the first review of the NPU system its 45year history with an eye to recommending short- and longterm reforms. In October, CCI launched a public survey at surveyatl.org. “Do you know what a Neighborhood Planning Unit is?” asks one of the basic questions in the survey. It also asks about how people find out local information and whether there should be city engagement methods beyond the NPU process. Information about the respondents’ level of civic involvement is also surveyed, such as whether they voted in the 2016 elections. CCI did not respond to questions, but said in an email announcing that survey that engagement remains the focus. “We believe that community engagement is at the center of solving inequality in Atlanta,” the email said. “Much of our inequality was intentionally designed so it will require intentional design to correct it. Community engagement isn’t just a checkbox — it’s an ongoing, trust-building process that brings the needs and voices
of residents into decision-making processes.” CCI is conducting a separate survey and interview of NPU leaders. NPU B chair Nancy Bliwise said she and board member Kim Shorter were interviewed in September by a CCI staffer. Bliwise said most of the conversation was about “what motivated us to serve on NPU as well as what we saw as its strengths and weaknesses.” The survey of NPU leaders asks some demographic information about them, as well as such topics as how they feel about the level of support the city provides and how much NPU decisions influence officials. The survey also asks how the NPU leader sees their role, suggesting such descriptions as liaison, advocate, technical assistant, educator, mediator, facilitator and organizer. CCI began its review process in spring 2019 and aims to conclude it in spring of 2021. The final phase of the process is described on the CCI website as “Advocating -- developing recommendations and ideas in collaboration with NPU residents for short-term and longterm improvement.” CCI Executive Director Rohit Malhotra previously the group continues to meet monthly with Department of City Planning officials, and has formed an advisory board whose members include former city planning chief Leon Eplan and Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, a marketing expert and former wife of Mayor Jackson. City Councilmember Antonio Brown has separately filed legislation seeking to reform the NPU system, largely by making the workings of each board uniform and requiring a training process. The proposal has not been received well by Buckhead’s NPUs, which generally think they’re doing fine. The impact of NPU decisions on city policy-making is a theme of local concerns.
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Buckhead kidnapping-robbery suspect may have committed Sandy Springs crime BY JOHN RUCH email@example.com
The Atlanta Police Department has issued a sketch of a suspect in two Buckhead kidnappings and robberies who may also be responsible for a similar incident in Sandy Springs. Two women were kidnapped and robbed in Buckhead last month in separate crimes that may have been committed by the same suspect — a man who entered their vehicles, forced them to withdraw cash from a bank, and threatened their lives if they called police. The Sandy Springs Police Department is “investigating a kidnapping with a very similar m.o.,” said SSPD spokesperson Sgt. Salvador Ortega. “Our detectives are working with Atlanta PD investigators, as we believe it involves the same perpetrator,” he said. Both Buckhead crimes happened within several hundred feet of each other on Sept. 25 and 27 in the Lindbergh/Morosgo area, according to APD reports. The Sept. 25 incident happened at 2531 Piedmont Road in the Lindbergh Plaza
shopping center. The victim left a salon and, while she entered her SUV, the robber entered it through the passenger door and threatened to “blow her head off” if she screamed, according to an APD report. The victim attempted to get out of the vehicle, but the robber grabbed her arm and forced her back inside. He ordered her to drive to a bank and withdraw $600 and also took her phone so she could not call the police. At the bank, the victim withdrew $700 and gave it to the robATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT ber. According A sketch of the suspect to the report, in two kidnapping and robbery incidents the robber in Buckhead on asked why Sept. 25 and 27. she withdrew more money than he asked for, “then became emotional and explained to her that he was only trying to feed his son and he would never hurt her.” He gave his name as Robert and said he had lost his job as a home insulation installer. The robber then ordered the victim to drop him off near Atlantic Station and claimed another vehicle was following them containing someone who would kill her if she called the police. As a result, the victim delayed reporting the crime for two days. The Sept. 27 incident happened at a QuikTrip gas station at 761 Sidney Marcus Boulevard. The victim reported that she got into her car while pumping gas and heard a man in the back seat tell her to drive and to not turn around. The robber took $200 from her purse and demanded that she go to an ATM and withdraw $800 in cash. The robber then directed her to drop him off at a location she could not identify, but that may have been near Georgia Tech. The robber told the victim not to call the police or he would harm her, so she delayed reporting the crime until the next day. The Sandy Springs kidnapping happened on Oct. 9 around 6 p.m. in the area of a condominium complex at 5151 Roswell Road, about a mile north of the Atlanta city limit, according to SSPD. The suspect is described in APD reports as a Black man with an Afro and is shown in a previously released surveillance video as wearing a T-shirt, pants and ball cap, all dark in color. Crime Stoppers of Greater Atlanta offers a reward up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect. Anyone with information can call 404-577-8477 or visit StopCrimeATL.org. BH
Perimeter Business | 7
Focusing on business in the Reporter Newspapers communities
November 2020 | Pandemic-Era Holidays
For the pandemic holiday, shop local and shop early BY JOHN RUCH
tions due to the uncertainties of supplies and pandemic precautions. “Home for the holidays” will be the theme for shoppers in ways that have pros and cons for local businesses, Bowman said in an email. “Those who shop in-person will visit fewer stores (something we have been seeing in grocery) and travel shorter distances for shopping (which should help small local retailers),” he said. Market surveys predict a small uptick in holiday spending over last year, Bowman said. Households that kept their income intact through the pandemic may now have more spending power due to fewer expenses for commuting, vacations and work lunches. But the spending may still be on the low end. Bowman cited a recent survey by
decrease from last year. The pandemic is hitting the brakes on some recent gift trends, like buying “experiences” such as spa visits and concert tickets, Bowman said. And it may create others, like people buying more gifts for themselves, “especially work-from-home items for those who are finally realizing this is lasting longer than expected.” Home holiday lighting and decorations should see a boost, too. With those trends in mind, here are some gift suggestions from local retailers.
Shop local and shop early. That’s the message from retailers for those fortunate enough to be seeking holiday gifts in a season gone haywire from the COVID-19 pandemic. Buying locally has the obvious benefit of supporting the economy here at home at a time when stores are struggling. Several local retailers offer their gift suggestions below. Shopping early isn’t just about convenience. The pandemic has disrupted wholesaler supply chains, pushed delivHome cooking ery services to their limit, and forced safeThe Atlanta History Center’s museum ty precautions that could mean long lines shop remains open during the pandemand limited access to stores. ic, with many gift items for sale. For hol“As you may have heard, retail stores iday shopping, the museum recommendare a mess this year,” Buckhead’s Kazoo ed a book about home cooking and local Toys warns on its website. “... It’s important for holiday shoppers to be prepared. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping -- you may find nothing but empty store shelves and shipping delays.” Douglas Bowman, a professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, says he wouldn’t be surprised to see Left, “Nathalie Dupree’s Favorite Stories and Recipes” is available at the Atlanta History Center. large malls doing Right, the Toniebox lets kids hear recorded stories without going online and is available from Kazoo Toys. timed-entry ticketing for shoppers as the holidays get closer. He noted that the market research firm Morning Conflavor: “Nathalie Dupree’s Favorite Stories Walmart has set an industry standard by sult showed 24% of consumers expect to and Recipes,” by the renowned Southern spreading the typical Black Friday over spend less than $100 on holiday gifts -- a cuisine chef who ran a restaurant in Sothree dates in November. He also points 5-point increase from last year. Another out that many retailers aren’t saying yet 19% plan to spend over $500 -- a 6-point Continued on page 9 what their plans are for December opera-
A booming business of yard displays is a sign of the times
Stacie Francombe, founder and CEO of Sign Greeters.
BY JOHN RUCH As 2020 dawned and “coronavirus” was just a word in international news briefs, Stacie Francombe was working in the wedding industry, helping to market tuxedos. Now the Sandy Springs resident is wrapping up the year as CEO of her own business, renting celebratory yard signs to pandemic-era partiers, which in a few months has expanded to 11 states. Call it a sign of the times. Or more specifically, Sign Greeters. “Like millions of Americans, I was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, unfortunately, from my corporateworld job,” Francombe said in a phone interview. In search of a Plan B, she relied on an entrepreneurial background to find a timely opportunity. “I really wanted to do something that was really going to help people like myContinued on page 10
8 | Perimeter Business
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New businesses in Reporter communities BY JOHN RUCH While the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the local economy and put a hold on traditional ribbon-cutting ceremonies, some new businesses are still opening their doors. The following businesses recently joined the community. C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar, Modera Sandy Springs, 6125 Roswell Road, Suite 700, Sandy Springs. Info: candsoysterbar.com. Cubanos ATL, restaurant, 6450 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. Info: cubanosatl.com. Framebridge Buckhead, custom framing, Shops Around Lenox, 3400 Around Lenox Road, Buckhead. Info: framebridge.com. Garnet Gal’s Coffee Shop & Bakery, Lenox Village, 2770 Lenox Road, Suite B-4, Buckhead. Info: garnetgalscoffesshop.com. LAKE Atlanta, clothing, Paces Ferry Plaza, 3519-B Northside Parkway, Buckhead. Info: lakepajamas.com. Weinberg Elder Law, law firm, 10 Glenlake Parkway, Suite 130, Sandy Springs. Info: weinbergelderlaw.com. Yebo Beach Haus, restaurant, relocated to Andrews Square, 56 East Andrews Drive, Buckhead. Info: yebobeachhaus.com. Celebrating the Sept. 23 ribbon-cutting of Peers Empowering Peers, a recovery services organization at 7770 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, are, from left, Jeff Breedlove of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse; Amanda Ippolito and Emanuel Hargrove of PEP; GCSA Project Director Emily Ribblett; and PEP Executive Director Paul Thompson. Info: peersempoweringpeers.org. SPECIAL
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Perimeter Business | 9
For the pandemic holiday, shop local and shop early Continued from page 7 cial Circle, Ga. “Atlantans especially will love all the local history, people and places that weave its way through her stories that tell how Dupree helped put both Southern foodways and the Atlanta food scene on the map,” says Kate Whitman, the History Center’s vice president of author talks and community engagement. The museum shop is within the Atlanta History Center at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead. Info: atlantahistorycenter.com.
Kids’ stuff One thing that a pandemic won’t change about holiday shopping: Kids still want toys. Kazoo Toys in Buckhead has plenty of recommendations for all ages groups and is offering one-person-at-atime shopping for pandemic safety. A recommendation for ages 8 and up is a gift that could keep on giving: a pottery wheel from Mindware ($84.99), which comes with everything kids need to make their own art objects from clay. For kids ages 3-5, a popular toy is the Toniebox ($99.99), a speaker that plays recorded stories without connecting to the
internet -- thus avoiding any unwanted surprises about adult content or hackers. Kazoo Toys is in the Powers Ferry Square shopping center at 3718 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info: kazootoysatlanta.com.
Shirts and More in Dunwoody is adding face masks to the collection as well. “Masks are getting customized, and we’ve printed quite a few for the quarantine birthday parties or small gatherings,” says owner Tracey Carothers. Prices vary by type of clothing and design. The store is offering a free printed mask with any customized sweatshirt. Big Frog is located at 1400 Dunwoody Village Parkway. Info: bigfrog.com/dunwoody.
Spending time with nature is a great alternative to pandemic lockdowns. Buckhead’s Wild Birds Unlimited offers gifts that can bring wildlife a little closer to home. For novice birdwatchers, the store has a “Flying Start Combo”for $14.97, which includes three types of bird food and a free feeder. Wild Birds Unlimited is at 4279 Roswell Road, Buckhead. Info: atlanta.wbu.com.
Custom shirts and masks T-shirts and sweatshirts with customized designs have become popular gift items for sharing a child’s artwork or celebrating family unity. Big Frog Custom T-
Home redecoration and renovation have seen a boom as the pandemic has many people staring at their rooms all day. Kudzu and Company, a furnishings shop in Sandy Springs, has items that can serve as individual gifts or be assembled into decor for a room. One set suggested by the store is a Thymes simmered-cider candle ($48), a box of Darling inscribed matches ($4), a silver picture frame ($41) and greenery in a decorative container ($167). Kudzu and Company is located at 6450 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. Info: kudzuandcompany.com.
10 | Perimeter Business
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A booming business of yard displays is a sign of the times Continued from page 7
A publicity photo of a Sign Greeters birthday display.
self who had recently been laid off, along with helping people who were stuck at home,” she said. She hit upon the pandemic trend of yard signs, a popular way for people to express themselves in the era of social distancing. Such signs have popped up everywhere, from thank-yous to healthcare workers outside hospitals, to congratulations for Class of 2020 seniors celebrating via car parades, to the “Everything Will Be OK” artist fundraiser based on an iconic Dunwoody mural. The sign business was a fit for Francombe’s background in marketing and events. A former CNN producer and writer, she had started her own production company, then moved into the wedding industry, where she started a national TV show and website for brides. In recent years, she also ran the Maccabi Games sporting event at Dunwoody’s Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Francombe had a connection in the sign distribution business, and partnered with Ivonne Simon, a corporate recruiter in Coral Springs, Florida and a friend of 28 years. And so was born Sign Greeters, which rents and arranges customized yard-sign displays for holidays, birthdays and other celebrations.
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Francombe and Simon started the business this spring in their respective neighborhoods, working at first by word of mouth. Francombe says the business quickly proved it could meet her original goals: the signs pleased customers and offered work to some people she knew who were laid off or furloughed, like wedding planners and airline flight attendants. But the pair had bigger plans for the business: licensing it to other entrepreneurs nationwide, who get the signs and marketing helping. The Sign Greeters website, with its licensing offer, launched on June 11. As of late October, Francombe said, the company had 44 licensees across the country, including in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. And more were in the process of joining. Sign Greeters lets customers choose from an inventory of signs representing letters of the alphabet and various graphics, which the company staff will set up and arrange to make messages and displays. With longer notice, customers can order graphics from commercial brands -- recent examples include college football team logos and Disney’s “Frozen” movies. Sign packages start at $110, with $75 for each extra night of display. The company has set up signs for birthdays, marriage proposals, and every holiday since June. One customer even ordered a Labor Day sign. Francombe said the socially distanced signs are overlapping with other trends, like the growth in home renovations.
“There’s definitely a boom. Everybody’s yard is decorated right now,” she said. “It’s just like how people are redoing their homes right now… Because we’re stuck at home. We want to make it nice.” The vast majority of customers ask for the signs to be set up facing the street, not their own home. Francombe said she thinks a factor is that people want to take a social-media-worthy souvenir photo of the sign in front of their home. The placement also has the effect of make the sign “speak” to neighbors and passers-by, inviting them to join in the celebration from afar and enjoy the colorful display. “It just puts a big smile on everybody’s face when they see the signs,” said Francombe. And, aside from a stray, grumpy homeowners association, the signs have yet to run afoul of any local signage rules, she said. While it remains to be seen whether the yard-sign trend will outlive the pandemic that inspired it, Francombe is confident that she’s found the way to be her own boss. She figures that yard signs will become a celebratory standard, like greeting cards used to be. “I think I’m done with corporate America,” she said. “...I know this business is going to stand the test of time because the truth of the matter is, nothing is ever really going to go back to normal when it comes to events and celebrations.” For more information about Sign Greeters, see signgreeters.com.
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Local arts groups get creative to ring in the season during the pandemic BY COLLIN KELLEY
ceeds benefit the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Reservation are required at GeorgiaTrust.org or by calling (404) 885-7812.
There’s no getting around it: the holidays are going to be different this year due to the pandemic. Many beloved annual events have been cancelled or will go virtual, while others are taking a “wait and see” approach. But don’t despair. There are still events happening to help ring in the season and we’ve rounded up some recommendations for November and beyond to get you in the holiday spirit.
◄Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
This year’s light show at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, presented Nov. 14 through Jan. 16, will provide a far more intimate experience than in years past with limited guest capacity each night of the run. Masks and social distancing will be required so guests can have a worryfree experience. Tickets are selling quickly, so visit atlantabg.org to secure your reservation.
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra The ASO will be streaming a live tribute to Ravel including Le tombeau de Couperin, Shéhérazade, and Mother Goose Suite on Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. Visit AtlantaSymphony.org for tickets.
Atlantic Station The annual Light the Station event is set for Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, fireworks, music and more. The event will be live streamed on 11 Alive. Skate the Station will be open Nov. 16 for socially distanced ice skating. More details at atlanticstation.com.
ry of embracing womanhood, Blackness and the myriad changes of life itself. Visit actors-express.com for more information.
◄Out Front Theatre Company
Radio Play.” Capacity will be limited to allow for distance between cars. General admission tickets start at $50 per car. Also coming up as part of the Alliance Theatre Anywhere streaming platform on Nov. 27 is “A Very Terry Christmas,” as writer and star Terry Burrell visits iconic Atlanta holiday destinations while sharing stories and jazz-inspired versions of favorite holiday songs. Visit alliancetheatre.org for tickets and streaming information.
▲▲Alliance Theatre The pandemic is giving the Alliance Theatre an opportunity to breathe new life into its holiday war horse. From Dec. 4-23, the Summerhill Lot at Georgia State University’s Center Parc Credit Union Stadium will transform into a drive-in theater, with a stage for live actors and big screens providing a live concert-style experience for “A Christmas Carol: The Live BH
Actor’s Express The theater’s Virtual Downstage platform will be streaming a filmed production of Charlayne Woodard’s “Neat” directed by Eric J. Little and starring Charity Purvis Jordan as the one woman show’s title character, Aunt Neat. What begins as a nostalgic personal remembrance blossoms into a magical and compelling sto-
The city’s LGBTQIA+ theatre company will stream two productions during the holiday season. “Bright Colors & Bold Patterns,” written Drew Droege, follows a drunken, drug-fueled party in Palm Springs on the eve of a wedding. It will stream Nov. 20-22. “The Santa Closet” by Jeffrey Solomon contemplates Santa coming out of the closet and diving headlong into the culture wars Dec. 1113. For more information, visit OutFrontTheatre.org.
Indie Craft Experience The annual holiday shopping tradition is going virtual this year with digital sales platform. The digital marketplace will be available via ice-atlanta.com and each craft vendor will be listed with a brief description of what they offer, product images, links to their social media, links to their website and online shop, and information about their live event. Upcoming “Shop in Place” events are set for Nov. 14 and Dec. 5 from 2 to 5 p.m.
Santa at Rhodes Hall The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation will host the annual Santa at Rhodes Hall each weekend from Nov. 29 to Dec. 19. There will be enhanced safety and sanitation protocols due to the pandemic, but kids will still get to spend some quality personal time with Santa. Pro-
▲The Roof at Ponce City Market
Head to the top of Ponce City Market to “Skate the Sky” on 3,500-square-foot ice skating rink, enjoy food and beverages in socially distanced private igloos, and have some Instagrammable moments with the holiday decorations beginning Nov. 27. Visit poncecityroof.com for details and reservations.
Children’s Christmas Parade The 40th annual parade hosted by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been cancelled, but there will be a special documentary and a salute to healthcare workers in a program called “A Look Back At 40 Years of the Children’s Christmas Parade,” which will air on WSB-TV on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.
High Museum of Art The High has reopened to patrons, with social distancing in mind, and will close out the year with a big touring exhibition of the work of renowned photographer Dawoud Bey. The show, “Dawoud Bey: An American Project,” will open Dec. 12 and continue through March 14. Bey is known for his powerful images from underrepresented communities and exploring African American history. For tickets and information, visit high.org.
14 | Public Safety
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Mayor, police chief address spike in homicides and street racing BY COLLIN KELLEY Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant held a joint public safety briefing on Oct. 28 to discuss a spike in crime in the city, specifically an increase in homicides and the ongoing efforts to curb street racing. Bottoms acknowledged the uptick in crime with homicides up 40% and aggravated assault up 10%. Street racing,
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an issue exacerbated after the coronavirus pandemic caused a decrease in traffic, continues to plague neighborhoods. The mayor said many of the murders happening in the city were being perpetrated by those who had a “relationship or familiarity” with the victims rather
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than just random crimes. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“That speaks to a larger systemic issue that we continue to face as a city and
as a community on how we resolve conflict,” Bottoms said. “But there are still acts of violence happening across our city that we recognize and that we have to get a handle on.” As for street racing, Bottoms said increased citations and police patrols were having an effect, but encour-
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aged the public to call 911 if they see a crowd gathering to watch stunts or racing. The city’s
court has issued a temporary order requiring street racing offenders to appear before a judge before bonding out, which the Atlanta City Council was scheduled to decide Nov. 2 if that should become permanent policy. Bryant said APD was taking steps to address street racing including increased
Interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant.
surveillance and specialized units, erecting traffic barriers, and deepening its collaboration with federal, state, and local partners. “We strategize every day on how to address street racing,” Bryant said. “It’s not only disturbing communities, but it’s also a dangerous act.” Bryant and Bottoms also met with members of the Buckhead Coalition on Oct. 28 to discuss crime issues in the district, which is considering implementing its own
www.townbrookhaven.net Conveniently located on Peachtree Road adjacent to Oglethorpe University.
private security patrol dubbed “Buckhead Blue.” Sprouting from concerns about an increase in shootings and quality-of-life crimes like street racing, “Buckhead Blue” is a concept for a neighborhood-wide private police force of off-duty officers. Envisioned as a larger version of the twoBH
Public Safety | 15
Target to reopen Lindbergh Plaza store months after vandalism
decade-old “Midtown Blue,” the concept was proposed at a September community meeting by Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts, who recently moved to Peachtree Road and got an earful of street-racing noise. “Buckhead Blue” was greeted with interest from leaders of neighborhood, business groups and some elected officials, but other community leaders have tapped
BY JOHN RUCH
the breaks saying that more data and study is needed before creating the patrol.
Target plans to reopen its “Buckhead South” store in Lindbergh Plaza in mid-November, more than five months after it shut down due to fire damage from vandals amid the George Floyd protests. Ronald Brown, a Target group vice president, said in a letter issued through a spokesperson that the store at 2539 Piedmont Road will continue to serve community needs, among which is “to promote social justice and racial equity.” The store will “support local Black-owned brands” and add more of them, he said. The store has been remodeled, the letter said. During largely peaceful protests that began downtown the night of May 29 about the police killing of Floyd in Minnesota, some looting and vandalism came to Buckhead. Starting May 30, the Target on Piedmont Road was repeatedly struck by fire from vandals, leading the Minnesota-based company to announce a preemptive closure of it and several other stores. The looting of a Target store in Minneapolis featured prominently in early coverage of the riots there and made the chain vulnerable to looting elsewhere in the country. In the Buckhead looting, another Target at 3535 Peachtree Road in Lenox Marketplace was hit. It has since reopened.
Neither Bryant or Bottoms offered any details on their meeting with the Buckhead Coalition. Bottoms said she would sign an administrative order on the city’s surveillance camera system, noting that 115 new cameras had been added this year and nearly 200 would be added in 2021. Bryant noted that the morale of police officers was on the rise after a flurry of departures over the summer in the wake of social unrest and officers being fired or charged in high profile incidents like the shooting death of DUI suspect Rayshard Brooks and the violent arrests of students caught up in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. In August, Bottoms signed administrative orders that significantly altered APD’s policy on use-of-force procedures. — John Ruch contributed
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16 | Commentary
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Feeling thankful in a challenging holiday season Thanksgiving 2020 will be like no other in recent memory. How to celebrate is a question that weigh heavily in the midst of a pandemic that continues to take lives and livelihoods. The Reporter asked some local leaders how they will gather and what they feel thankful for.
President and CEO, Buckhead Christian Ministry This year, Thanksgiving is going to be different. Our family will visit relatives in Virginia, but we are still working out the details of how to serve the dinner, whether or how older and more at-risk relatives will attend, and what social distancing will look like with smaller children who have not been around each other at all during the pandemic. We are a faithful family, so no matter what we will be giving thanks to God for all our blessings in the face of all the uncertainty. At BCM, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will once again sponsor Thanksgiving for 50 BCM families. This is a bright spot our community should celebrate during these trying times. I think we all need a moment to just pause and give thanks, even for the smallest measures of providence in our lives. A spirit of gratefulness will go a long way in getting us through this thing, together.
REV. BILL MURRAY
Rector, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church
In a year of discomfort and confusion, I find gratitude is the best way to engage the world. While I am an extrovert by nature and a traveler at heart, I have found that this season of life has invited me into being grateful for the presence of God is the smallest of ways -- spaces where I can be in such a hurry that I cannot or will not pause to take in the won-
der. I can grouse about washing dishes or say a silent prayer of gratitude for the food prepared and eaten, for the fellowship in eating, and the task of cleaning up. I can hurriedly open the computer for the next Zoom meeting or take a moment to give thanks that I can see and engage with people who are equally frustrated with distance learning and conversations. I can lament the thousands of ways we are separate or delight in the phone calls and the old but trusted system of mailing notes and letters. The cultivation of gratitude is not meant to ignore the deep wounds of hurt and loss during COVID. Mourning and grieving are important aspects of our lives and our faiths. And this season has featured countless losses, of jobs and connections and even lives. In some ways, grief is a different type of gratitude -- a yearning for something for which we were deeply grateful. We don’t tend to miss the things we dislike. Being grateful is not a simple cheerful view of the world. To truly be thankful is to recognize the gifts that we have, and some that we have lost are profound gifts. The work is not to take inventory of how great things are. The practice is to be thankful in such a way that we can open our hearts to give and receive on a deeper level.
ADRIENNE DUNCAN President, Dunwoody Homeowners Association
All of our family is out-of-state, so in our home, Thanksgiving is a time for the five of us to wind down and spend some quiet and peaceful time with each other without tight schedules and overlapping activities. 2020 is a challenge for us just like everyone else. Regular jobs with their medical insurance were lost, so we turned to consulting to make ends meet. At the same time, our youngest child faced a major medical diagnosis whose treat-
ment would not be covered by insurance or the Affordable Care Act. Through it all, we were able to make all of our bills and pay for some intensive medical care for our son. At times like this, we are very grateful to keep our family’s head above water and ensure our children have what they need.
REV. ALLEN JACKSON Senior Pastor, Dunwoody Baptist Church
I am aware of all of the memes that rightfully declare with much wit and wisdom that 2020 is a year like no other. It is true that a global pandemic has brought sickness to many, unwanted transition to some, and anxiety to all. As a pastor, I feel the pain with each email, phone call, text or personal conversation. I hurt as well for the anger and incivility that permeate our public dialogue in an election year. I will likely gather with my family here in Dunwoody for Thanksgiving, though we will be careful and keep it low-key. And I am thankful. I am thankful for my bride of 37 years, my children and my grandson. I am thankful to have come through a heart scare, thankful for the doctors at Emory Saint Joseph’s (and every person at every other medical facility). I am thankful for a community like Dunwoody, and thankful for my faith family at Dunwoody Baptist. I am grateful for the ability to livestream worship services into the homes of our folks as well as homes in many other states and even countries. I am grateful to live in freedom, ever mindful of those who paid for it through military and public service. I am grateful that I am able to worship a God who is over all and who paid for spiritual freedom by sending His son Jesus to give peace in the midst of pandemic -- and everything else. BH
Commentary | 17
The exhausted state of the pandemic’s front-line healthcare workers
Being a hospital medicine physician ter yearly. It’s true that we are better at and leader, I am accustomed to chaos and treating COVID-19, and are much more orworking through daily challenges in a hosganized to navigate another surge during pital environment. As stressful as it is, I this pandemic. But the difference now is thrive on solving and troubleshooting isit does not feel exhilarating or exciting. Insues. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought stead, it’s a challenge and a strenuous upa whole new level of challenges and stress, hill battle. and it initially was exhilarating. Members of the healthcare teams, inAt the beginning, including physicians, nurses, formation was constantly respiratory therapists and changing as we were learnothers are exhausted. The ing and adapting to this new duties of caring for non-COdisease process. It brought VID patients has returned the worst of fears to most of back to baseline, which alus. But, at the same time, it ready is busy and chaotic. felt thrilling as I was part of But these duties are further a historic pandemic by leadchallenged with an entirely ing and caring for patients. changed hospital environThe excitement was fueled ment, and having to conby the constant change of sider all aspects of care in information. During those relation to COVID. It has first few weeks, it was trucompletely misshapen the ly mind-blowing seeing how human and patient expefast the daily number of COrience in medicine. There VID cases were increasing. is nostalgia thinking back Dr. Dhaval Desai is a As a clinician directly caring eight months ago to the practicing hospitalist and for patients, I felt constant“pre-COVID” days when carmedical director of hospital ly stimulated from the latest ing for a hospitalized pamedicine at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. He is on clinical guideline or developtient was much more open Twitter as @DrDesaiMDx. ment on how to best care for and welcoming. Now, it’s a a COVID-19 patient. closed, isolated, and a more During that first phase, I did not feel demanding environment. that there was an “off button” to escape the On top of the internal challenges, the pandemic. Once home, I would be glued politics and divide in the country cause to my phone or computer, addressing the more unrest. We are constantly seeing conlatest challenge, communicating with coltroversy on masking, and how some are beleagues, and handling acute situations ing dismissive towards small behaviors to that arose. On top of that, I had a newprotect themselves and each other. Fundaborn and4-year-old at home. My wife and mentally, masking is the only major stratI constantly questioned if we were doing egy we have to mitigate the spread of COthe best to protect our children, and each VID-19. And ultimately, the healthcare other. I felt tired, but reassured myself that system is going to be plagued with COVwe were part of history in the making. BeID-19 if cases keep rising, which is so mading a frontline physician and leader during dening and frustrating, as we have a degree a pandemic felt like a once-in-a-career opof control on this. portunity. In a way, it felt like a privilege. It’s clear to me now that the first six Weeks into the pandemic, across the months of the pandemic were adrenalinecountry, there were celebrations and confueled. And while the support for healthstant inspiration for healthcare workers. care workers is largely still present, the There were meals delivered to the hospiadrenaline that was first felt has waned. tal, letters and posters sent showing supThe same feelings of fatigue and frustraport. We were deemed heroes, and it was tion experienced by most during the panflattering and inspiring. The communidemic are shared by healthcare workty and country were constantly cheering ers. Outside of the medical environment, for healthcare workers on the front lines. healthcare workers face the same chalThis support was palpable, and lifted us lenges on the social and psycho-social front through the darker days of the pandemic in their home lives, including virtual learnthrough two major surges. It continued to ing for children, social isolation, and stayfuel our adrenaline to fight this disease. ing well during a pandemic. They are no Months passed in the pandemic, and afdifferent. And, while I continue to strive to ter getting through a second surge, it felt give each patient the best care I can while like the worst was over. While there was partnering with a multidisciplinary team constant advocacy to protect ourselves and other physicians, I also recognize that and each other, life was trying to get back it’s more challenging than ever. to normal (a new normal). The chaos was With the projected increase in cases of starting to subside, and maybe we had just COVID-19 during the upcoming months, adapted to functioning in a pandemic. For there has to fundamentally be a message a few weeks, it felt as if it were the end of to protect ourselves and each other by the commotion caused by COVID-19. But, masking, socially distancing and following the harsh reality was that it was the end of community guidelines. We still have time the beginning. to make the reality far better than the grim As we enter the fall season, we are proprojections. And, if we do that, we are not jected to have a grim few months with COonly helping ourselves, but also will relieve VID-19 cases surging on top of the already a huge impending burden on the healthhigh number of patients we see in the wincare system and its workers.
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Sorry, word processor, you’re just not my type Did you ever wonder how Shakespeare did it all without the help of a word processor? I can’t even write an email without drafting it and redrafting it 12 times. Then again, maybe Shakespeare had more time to write because he didn’t need to waste so much of it rebooting his laptop. But consider all the things he did without: the cut and paste, the thesaurus, the spellcheck, the handy tab of CliffsNotes at the ready. That’s a lot of brilliance flowing freely without the aid of helpful tools, plus he had to come up with plots and jokes and make the words rhyme, and do most of it in iambic pentameter. It’s astonishing to think about. He also did it all without the backspace key, but maybe striking through an unwanted phrase with an inked quill takes less time; I don’t know. What I do know is that I, for one, spend an inordinate amount of time at the backspace key. I’ve spent more time with the backspace key than I have with my husband. The problem is, I really can’t type. I could have added five years to my life if I had typed the thing correctly the first time. There’s always a scene in a suspense action film where someone has to break into the control center room and hack into a random computer. The hacking part does not impress me — computer hackers are a dime a dozRobin Conte lives with her en. What always blows my mind, what flattens my sushusband in an empty nest pension of disbelief, is when said sleuth starts clacking in Dunwoody. To contact all over the keyboard with no problem. Who can adapt her or to buy her column so effortlessly to an unknown keyboard? I mean, I’ve had collection, “The Best of the a new laptop for three months now, and I still can’t type Nest,” see robinconte.com. the words “thank you.” Auto-correct will eventually put me out of my misery. I can’t type my own name, either. It always comes out “Roibn.” I have the same problem with “y9ou” and “belive.” My mother loved to brag on me during my high school years but was sufficiently humbled when she met my typing teacher. For most people, typing was an easy course, but if I could have taken it pass-fail, I would have. Maybe it’s a matter of hand-eye coordination (even though you’re not supposed to be looking at the keyboard anyway) but I do think coordination must have a role to play. I wasn’t good at dodgeball either. Then I graduated and moved away to a campus of higher learning, with nothing but a footlocker of clothes, my lousy typing skills, and my brand-spanking-new electric typewriter. It’s still in the house, crammed beneath the bed in the basement. It was a top-of-the-line Corona, the color of sleek tan, and (I know I’m dating myself here), it was the gift de rigueur for college-bound students back in the day. Half of you out there are snickering and half of you are nodding your heads. The thing that made it revolutionary was the Correct-O cartridge, which was a groundbreaking advancement for me over the bottle of Wite-Out. Somehow, I slogged through four years clanking away with that and its redemptive cartridge, embroiled in a love-hate relationship with its ultra-sensitive electric keys, but the thing about it is, it never asked me a question I couldn’t answer. It never blanked out on me and started updating, unprompted, with the promise of it taking only 57 minutes…56, 55, 54… It never bossed me around. It never changed my security questions, pretending all the while that it had not. It never hid my files or shut down without saving my documents. It never asked me to spend $250 on an updated office program, threatening to take all my work hostage if I didn’t. It never suddenly and completely without warning converted to dark theme/white type mode, requiring me to spend 30 minutes in anguished attempt to undo it until I finally spent another 45 minutes at the mercy of tech support. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself there. I am indeed grateful for the advances of modern technology. Besides, methinks I doth protest too much.
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Commentary | 19
Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who lives on the Dunwoody-Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire others. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Buckhead, a hard worker follows the path from jail to a second chance
These days, the most popular person on tions that will. One of its ing other Georgia Everyday for 30 days, he went to group Buckhead’s PATH400 greenway seems to most important partners, Works clients astherapy, took classes and met with Al. He be Walter Dixon, the new community prothe Buckhead CID, hires signed to the CID. also joined Narcotics Anonymous to deal grams coordinator for the Buckhead Comits clients to pick up lit“It was evident with his alcoholism. munity Improvement District. ter along major corridors to everybody he’s “I had to change my thought patterns, People along the path say he knows within the CID, including a special man,” do something positive instead of somethe name of every dog-owner and dog he the PATH400. said Buckhead thing negative, do what’s right even when Carol Niemi is a marketing consultant who livesmen on theusually Dunwoodymeets. The work CID Executive Dinobody’s watching,” he said. Sandy Springs line and writes about people whose lives inspire “We first met Walter in March, when in pairs, often with minrector Jim DurDixon readily owns his mistakes. others. Contact her at email@example.com. my dog Lou was a puppy and we had just imal supervision. Dixon rett. “His attitude “I got sick and tired of being sick and begun walking the PATH400,” says resistarted working for the and personality tired and learned to live a new and betdent Jackie Greene. “Walter always stopped Buckhead CID under the convinced us to ter life,” he said. “That’s when good things to say hello, and Lou got used to seeing him Georgia Works program keep using Georstarted happening.” every day. She can spot him from far away in early 2020 and soon gia Works and Despite his celebrity, he keeps his ego in and starts tugging on the leash to get to stood out. ultimately offer check and even seems a bit surprised at his him.” “Walter’s the hardhim a full-time success. “My dog Scarlett knows Walter too,” est worker I’ve ever met,” job.” “People living in huge homes say I insaid Stephanie Midkiff, “and loves to see said Al Sims, Dixon’s case Dixon credits spire them, and I don’t have nothing but him.” manager. “We needed a his faith, Georgia what I have in that little dormitory.” But dogs aren’t the only ones who like leader to take ownership Works and Al, his And about Jim Durrett, the man who Walter. of that site. We had alhired him? SPECIAL case manager, for Walter Dixon pauses in his PATH400 “I look forward to seeing him and catchready rotated several peohis success. “A great guy. He gave me a second work to say hello to Lou, who, along ing up each day,” said Greene. ple out trying to find the “Al kept tellchance.” with owner Jackie Greene, has gotten Walter’s new boss, Matt Gore, the Buckright person.” ing me to let my Georgia Works is supported entirely by to know him in recent months. head CID’s projects and programs managDixon was that perego die,” said Dixcorporate and private donations. To donate er, says he hears such comments frequentson. He immediately on. “I prayed and money, clothing or toiletries, go to georgialy. went beyond just litter pick-up to noticing prayed and finally had to admit I had a works.net. “Walter is a really kind-hearted human things like a handrail needing to be painted, problem causing my life to be unmanagebeing,” said Gore. “He always represents doing the painting, and advising and guidable.” the CID well.” What most of Walter’s fans don’t know is that a year ago, he was homeless and just released from stints at the Clayton and Fulton county jails after pleading guilty to simple battery and criminal damage to property, which violated a prior probation for assault and battery. He got the job through a program called Georgia Works. “I heard about Georgia Works in jail,” said Dixon in a recent interview. “The day I got out, I went straight there.” “There” is the Gateway Center in Downtown Atlanta, where Georgia Works occupies the second floor. But even though he thought Dixon was “clean and sober,” he flunked the required 12-panel substance test that picks up even the tiniest amount of a banned substance. A person who tests positive for even one fails. That was a cold Thursday in November. He could try again the following Monday. “I spent the next four nights out in the cold,” said Walter. “I never want to drink again.” If it helps pets thrive, HEALTHY NATURAL PET EXPERTLY SAME DAY On that Monday, he passed the test and you’ll find it at PetPeople. FOOD & TREATS PRODUCTS TRAINED STAFF DELIVERY entered the program. At Georgia Works, homeless men who are substance-free and willing to face their addictions, criminal past and other factors DUNWOODY BUCKHEAD SANDY SPRINGS that led to their homelessness get a second 5556 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd. 2349 Peachtree Rd. NE 4920 Roswell Rd. chance -- a chance at a job, their ticket out Dunwoody, GA 30338 Atlanta, GA 30305 Atlanta, GA 30342 of homelessness. 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20 | Commentary
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Joe Earle is editorat-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@ reporternewspapers.net
It’s been 15 years since Sandy Springs Mayor-to-be Eva Galambos launched a new age of “let’s get small” political thinking in the sprawling Atlanta suburbs. Things have changed a bit since then, of course. Inspired by Sandy Springs’ incorporation in 2005, more “new cities” roared to life as their voters became convinced that governments that were smaller and closer-to-the-ground had to be better than the ones running counties that were as populous as major cities. Now “new cities” carpet north Fulton and DeKalb and western Gwinnett counties wall-to-wall in a crazy-quilt pattern of interlocking towns. Last month, a few planners from new cities gathered at a wood-paneled Dunwoody steakhouse to talk about whether they should give more attention to what’s going on in the communities around them. Bob Dallas, chair of the Dunwoody Planning Commission, called the meeting. Conversations about regional issues often have been hard to launch in the metro Atlanta suburbs. This informal meeting was no different. Of the dozen city officials Dallas invited to meet for dinner, only three -- Dallas and Mark Willis and Alan Kaplan, planning commissioners from Peachtree Corners – showed up that night. But a couple of hours of wideranging discussion convinced them they should meet again. They figure the others will join them eventually. As Dallas sees it, they’ll have to. There have been efforts at cooperation among the cities in the past – the 911 service, for instance – but Dallas argues that planners and elected officials in these cheek-by-jowl communities regularly confront various trou-
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Planning for a bigger, booming suburbia
From left, Peachtree Corners Planning Commissioner Mark Willis, Dunwoody Planning Commission Chair Bob Dallas and Peachtree Corners Planning Commission Chair Alan Kaplan met at a Dunwoody steakhouse in the first of a series of proposed discussions of regional issues.
bles that cross city lines. Think traffic and transit. Then again, there are projects the leaders of these cities want to pursue that work best when they link together. Think trails or development at the corners where cities meet. “You ain’t an island,” Dallas said. Instead, he argues, one city’s planners should know how the city-next-door plans to deal with an issue or a project. So should planners in the city-next-door-to-that. And the next one down the line. As they have grown, several of the new cities have developed their own personalities of sorts. Peachtree Corners bills itself as High Tech Town with fiber optics and a city test track for driverless vehicles. Sandy Springs is building itself a shiny new downtown at what was once a country crossroads. Chamblee has grown up into what some declare to be a hip place to live. Changes among the towns are readily apparent. “Dunwoody hasn’t changed all that much,” Dallas told the other planning commissioners at their meeting, “but with Chamblee, you can’t recognize what it was 20 or 25 years ago.” Big projects now underway -- the nest of serpentine lanes that will carry cars through the multi-level intersection of I-285 and Ga. 400, or the construction of connected strolling/hiking/biking trails that eventually should allow cyclists to roll through city after city without stopping — are knitting the communities together even more. And, of course, there’s a pandemic to deal with. Dallas argues that the communities’ planning leadership needs to at least stay in touch about how things are going. He’s proposing city planners gather regularly to chew over regional issues at restaurants and other gathering spots throughout the area. “Periodically, we will continue to reach out to each other,” he said. “This is an open-ended discussion.” And city officials don’t always agree on how the area should change as it continues to grow. What Brookhaven and Chamblee officials want south of I-285 may not match what Dunwoody folks want north of the Perimeter and vice versa. The same is true of other places where cities are separated only by a few lanes of pavement. The Perimeter area is expected to continue to grow in coming years, but one community’s development opportunity may sit alongside an adjacent town’s settled subdivisions, a mix that can give heartburn to residents and elected officials alike. After all, many Dunwoody voters decided to create their city as a way to slow or stop the construction of new apartments in their community. But more people are moving to the metro area each year -- apparently, whether you build places for them or not, they still will come -- and developers often want to include multi-family living in new projects. “During the Great Recession,” Dallas said, “you heard people saying, ‘Suburbia is dead.’ Suburbia isn’t dead. It’s going to be here. …. How do we manage that growth?” Now that the map of Suburbia has been redrawn, is it time to start thinking a bit bigger again? BH
Community | 21
Brookhaven woman died due to hotel’s negligence, daughter claims in lawsuit
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BY ERIN SCHILLING The 2018 death of a Brookhaven woman found with a maggot-infested wound in a local hotel was due to the staff’s negligence, her daughter claims in a recently filed wrongful-death lawsuit. Natalie Burson filed the lawsuit Oct. 1 in the state court of DeKalb County against Residence Inn by Marriott, the temporary housing company ALE Solutions, and hotel management company Aimbridge Hospitality. Residence Inn and Aimbridge Hospitality did not respond to requests for comment. Burson alleges that the hotel staff at the Residence Inn Atlanta at 2220 Lake Boulevard, near the Buckhead border in Lenox Park, neglected to check on her 70-year-old mother Joanne Burson despite Natalie repeatedly asking them. That neglect led to her mother’s death, the lawsuit claims. Natalie and Joanne Burson lived together but were moved out of their house and into separate temporary housing by ALE Solutions via their insurance company because of home repairs, according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson was in the hotel for eight months before her death. Tony Frank, an attorney for ALE Solutions, said in an email the company “does not manage, own, or have any influence or control over the day-to-day operation of the hotels our clients choose.” “She thought her mother was part of this family, that the people who worked there cared for her, said attorney Lloyd Bell, who is representing Natalie Burson. “Natalie still believes that, but she believes the hotel has put down a wall of silence to try to avoid responsibility, and that’s what really infuriates her.” The lawsuit says that Joanne Burson became acquainted with staff members, who would help walk her dog and bring food to her room. In late September 2018, Natalie Burson tried to check in with her mother over the phone but could not reach her. She called the hotel to check on her mother, and allegSPECIAL edly was told she was “fine and well.” Joanne Burson. Burson was not able to get in contact with her mother for days, according to the lawsuit, and the hotel staff allegedly would not let her go see her mother. After Burson threatened to call the police to be able to see her mother, she got a call from ALE Solutions telling her that her mother had fallen and was being taken to Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital, according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson was unresponsive at the hospital and had a wound on her hip that was infested with maggots, according to the lawsuit. A doctor told Natalie Burson that her mother “must have been left lying on the floor for days,” according to the lawsuit. Joanne Burson died Oct. 4, 2018. “Natalie is a very strong woman,” Bell said. “She would describe herself as a tough New Yorker, as her mother was, but she’s just been traumatized by this. She was very close to her mother.” The hotel would not give Natalie Burson a copy of the ambulance’s incident report, the lawsuit alleges. When Burson went to her mother’s old room, the room “was infested with bugs, flies, worms, maggots and dog feces,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges negligence by the hotel for not cleaning Joanne Burson’s room or checking on her, and fraud for telling Natalie Burson that her mother was doing well. It also alleges negligence against ALE Solutions for placing the mother and daughter in different temporary housing. “The Residence Inn staff violated multiple duties, and those violations caused Joanne Burson to lie injured and stranded in her room, as a wound developed, as vermin ate her flesh, as infections went without medical treatment, and as she went into the septic shock that ultimately killed her,” the lawsuit says. Bell said the lawsuit was filed at the beginning of October because the two-year statute of limitations was almost up. The defendants have 30 days to answer the lawsuit, Bell said.
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22 | Community
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City, MARTA team on Lindbergh-Armour master plan Continued from page 1
areas are a major sub-
ject for the plan to
“MARTA sees this partnership with
tackle. PATH400 al-
the city of Atlanta as a great oppor-
tunity to create a cohesive vision for
that area. In May, At-
the Lindbergh-Armour District,” said
lanta BeltLine Inc. an-
Stephany Fisher, a spokesperson for
nounced a prospective
the transit agency.
route for its North-
Jason Morgan, a city planner, intro-
east Trail path and
duced the concept at an Oct. 6 meet-
transit segment to run
ing of Neighborhood Planning Unit B.
through the Armour
Among its goals, he said, is creating bet-
area to the MARTA
ter integrating housing and commer-
Station, though con-
cial properties -- including affordable
struction would start
housing -- with the transit and trails a
no sooner than 2023.
“sense of identity” to the area. Morgan
In August, the South
said he used to live in the neighborhood
Fork Conservancy in-
himself, near the MARTA station, and
stalled a bridge over
had trouble describing it to visitors.
connect its trail system to PATH400 on Adina Lane.
MARTA sees this partnership with the city of Atlanta as a great opportunity to create a cohesive vision for the LindberghArmour District. STEPHANY FISHER MARTA
The basics of the planning process are outlined on a website at bit.ly/lindbergharmour.
How all of those projects work together is a question. Morgan said that making Piedmont Road more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly in general is another goal. Then there’s MARTA,
of Lindbergh, whose headquarters is at the
The study area of the Lindbergh-Armour Master Plan as shown in an overview document.
station. About 20 years ago, MARTA began executing a massive plan for transit-ori-
ners, which last year bought the 1 mil-
working in partnership with MARTA
ented redevelopment around the sta-
to improve this transformative urban
tion. Acres of mixed-use buildings and
fice complex called Lindbergh Center,
two apartment complexes were built,
which stands next to MARTA’s head-
In another piece of the puzzle, MAR-
but they are less transit-oriented than
quarters. AT&T, the longtime tenant,
TA recently completed construction on
MARTA envision, and other phases of
has leases expiring at year’s end.
two soccer pitches on Morosgo Drive.
property even further.”
the plan have stalled. And now MARTA
The company did not respond to
They are part of a program to add sim-
has a long-term plan to build a new rail
questions about its plans. But in a press
ilar pitches to several transit stations
line called the Clifton Corridor between
release last year, Taylor Smith, the com-
and operate a league, which is expect-
Lindbergh Center and the Emory Uni-
pany’s Southeast regional director, said
ed to start playing in Lindbergh soon.
changes are afoot.
Morgan said the city is beginning
A proposal for a hotel, apartments
“We intend to breathe new life into
to set up an input process that will in-
The study area centers on the Pied-
and retail space on MARTA-owned
Lindbergh by adding new retailers, in-
clude groups of technical experts look
mont Road corridor roughly bordered
property at 2400 Piedmont was an-
fusing the district with art and vibrant
at the trails, transit-oriented devel-
by Ga. 400/I-85 to the east, the Armour
nounced in 2018, but Fisher says it
design elements and reopening Lind-
opment and “multi-modal transpor-
area to the south, the Northfolk South-
was “scrapped” as the transit agen-
bergh’s connection with the surround-
tation.” A “community voices work-
ern rail line to the west, and Sidney
cy couldn’t come to terms with the de-
ing neighborhoods through improve-
ing group” with members of NPUs and
Marcus Boulevard to the north. It also
veloper. Fisher said MARTA has inter-
ment of the existing green spaces and
neighborhood associations will set “ul-
includes Miami Circle, southern Bu-
est from other developers for that site
event programming,” Smith said in the
timate goals,” define the local identity
ford Highway to the Brookhaven bor-
and adjacent property for projects that
release. “Lindbergh Center is already a
and prioritize improvements, he said.
der, and part of the Cheshire Bridge
could have “workforce and affordable
key component of one of the best tran-
Residents may participate in the expert
sit-oriented developments in Atlanta
groups, too. The meeting process could
and Rubenstein is looking forward to
begin in November.
Trail plans snaking through those
A massive player is Rubenstein Part-
Art & Entertainment | 23
BY ERIC DAVIDSON Record Store Day began in 2007 as a grassroots idea from a few record store owners to highlight the realization that they and a lot of their friends still bought vinyl albums. Like, a lot. By last year, vinyl outsold CDs for the first time since 1986. Record Store Day -- with its limited-edition rarity reissues and expanded versions -- skipped along parallel to the “Vinyl is Back!” trend of the last 10 years, as Urban Outfitters and even Walmart started stocking new $25 Taylor Swift albums and $35 Led Zeppelin reissues. Record Store Day – a day in April and on Black Friday – has helped keep interest in records going, and many indie stores will exclaim that it’s their biggest shopping day of the year. The argument of whether it has translated into those RSD newbies coming back to shop on other days is debatable. But around the country, many small, Mom-and-Pop record shops have opened in the last few years. Even Jack White’s Third Man Records label opened a record pressing plant in Detroit a few years ago with three machines in use. And like the few other record plants left in the world, they are a year behind on orders. Will this last? The many great record shops of our area sure hope so. We checked in with Mark Gunter, manager of one of the longest-running and most respected regional shops, Buckhead’s Fantasyland Records, to get his thoughts on Record Store Day, and to see how it’s doing in the face of the anti-Mom-and-Pop shop reality of COVID. For details about Record Store Day’s Black Friday edition on Nov. 27, see recordstoreday.com. And for more about Fantasyland, see fantasylandrecords. com.
GIVING RECORD STORE DAY A SPIN AT BUCKHEAD’S FANTASYLAND
How long have you been involved with Record Store Day? We’ve been taking part in Record Store Day since 2010. It’s a lot of work, but people love it. It’s a cool, fun event, and a great promotion for indie record stores. They come up with some great limited edition releases each year. ... Most people enjoy it and have a great time -- even the standing in line! People enjoy meeting and making new friends with fellow vinyl lovers. As for our store, the April RSD is always our biggest sales day of the year, and the Black Friday event is always a good day.
This year, the usual twoday RSD schedule was thrown into chaos, right? Yeah, this year’s April RSD was postponed due to COVID. They decided to stagger the releases on three separate Saturdays, at the end of August, September and October, to keep the crowds down a bit. We weren’t sure how it was going to work out, or even if anyone was going to show up for it. But we were blown away by the turnout for part one in August. Part two was equally successful, as was last Saturday’s [Oct. 24]! It’s worked out well. Everyone masked up and social-distanced. We do it all instore. No online sales. First come, first served. No holds. One per person, per title. The usual RSD rules.
Are there any regional releases coming for Black Friday RSD that you’re really excited about? Ed Roland of Collective Soul put together a new band during the early days of COVID shutdown called The Living Room. They wrote and recorded songs in their living room that have a ’70s New Wave kind of sound inspired by bands like Roxy Music, the Cars and ELO. So that should be really cool!
Give us a quick history of Fantasyland Records. Fantasyland Records was opened in 1976 by Andy Folio, who still owns the shop. The original location was [on Peachtree Road] in the old strip that contained Garden Hills Cinema, and where Fellini’s Pizza is still located. We moved to our current location at 360 Pharr Road in Buckhead in 2010. I began working part-time at the store in 1979, became manager in 1983. We sell new and used vinyl, plus used CDs and cassettes in every genre that exists. Also, cool posters and other music-related memorabilia. These days, vinyl is around 90% of our sales. Teenagers and 20-somethings have rediscovered cassettes, like they have vinyl records.
Speaking of the pandemic, how is Fantasyland holding up? Our store was closed from midMarch to mid-May. We did a little curbside business while we were closed. Since we reopened, business has been better than ever, actually. We’ve been open for in-store shopping, the same as usual. And we thank each and every one of our wonderful customers/ friends for that! I think the future continues to look very bright for indie record stores!
So you would say that the ’Vinyl is Back!’ trend may not be a trend? Yeah, vinyl is definitely back. Sales
are increasing each year. Although for indie record stores, it never really went away, there are just a lot more new young people who’ve entered the vinyl world in the last 10 years or so. Plus, the pressing of new vinyl has exploded.
LIVING ROOM COVER.JPG
The cover of The Living Room’s special album for Record Store Day’s Black Friday edition.
24 | Art & Entertainment
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Looking up! Seeing the beauty of the night sky Say the idea of looking at the mountains, craters and shadows of the Moon gets your interest. Perhaps a distant and colorful nebula inspires awe and wonder. Or maybe the prospect of checking out Saturn and its rings hanging like a jewel in space gives you goosebumps. You just might be a future amateur astronomer. Several observatories in Georgia, most of them associated with academic institutions, offer observation and research opportunities for students and others seeking astronomical knowledge and almost all throw open the doors to the public during non-pandemic times. A healthy number of amateurs are increasingly taking up astronomy as a hobby, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on gear. The go-astronomy.com and Middle Georgia Astronomical Society websites together list nearly a dozen sky-scanning clubs in the state Experts caution that budding cosmologists will need a healthy dollop of patience and advance planning as well. But the rewards for being deliberate are spectacular. “The most common reaction is, ‘Wow!’” said David Dundee, a genial astronomer who presides over the 20-inch telescope and observatory at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, along with its associated planetarium. The ob-
servatory has opened with social distancing and safety measures during the pandemic, unlike most others. Their 120-seat planetarium also is open on a limited basis for sky shows. “The most important thing is the ability of a person to come here and put their eye to the telescope and say ‘I can see the rings of Saturn or ‘I am looking up at the Orion nebula,’ “ Dundee said. “To me that’s so much better than being at home and punching buttons and up come pictures.” He said the most popular viewing targets are the Moon, Mars and Saturn, as well as Orion and other nebulae, which are giant gas and dust clouds far away in space. The Andromeda galaxy, star clusters and lunar and solar eclipses also find favor. “You can call them the greatest hits of space,” he said with a grin. Tellus volunteer, amateur astronomer and retired chemist Bob Gossman said his interest in the heavens flickered to life while viewing astronaut Ed White’s groundbreaking Gemini 4 spacewalk in 1965. “I excitedly woke my parents and they told me to go back to bed,” he recalled and told of a similar, much more recent epiphany. During a public program one night he coaxed a frazzled mother riding herd on her kids into taking a look through the
Astronomer David Dundee looks after the observatory and planetarium at the Tellus Observatory.
eyepiece. Saturn and its rings held center stage. When she looked herself, she was so surprised by what she saw that she yelled an obscenity, Dundee recalled. Then she was embarrassed because she had blurted the words in front of her kids. “I asked her to describe what she was seeing,” he said, “and her voice began cracking. She was tearing up.” The modest masonry, brick and steel-
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girder observatory at Tellus has a 20-inch telescope that looks a bit like a planetary probe. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dundee said, the domed building about 10,000 visitors a year. This year is different, he said, because the observatory was shut down for weeks. He says “this is a big date night location.” Recently a group of teenagers celebrating a birthday showed up. During public nights, smaller telescopes set up near the observatory and volunteers with laser pointers spotlight highlights of the heavens. The Tellus telescope is a 20-inch reflector utilizing mirrors. Refracting telescopes, by contrast, use lenses. Each has advantages and disadvantages, said Gossman. A refracting telescope is typically cheaper and a bit brighter, while a reflecting device can gather more light with a more compact design. Dundee said novices might think magnification is most crucial, “but the name of the game in astronomy is aperture. The bigger the telescope, the more light it can gather up and the fainter the objects you can see.” Those who are newly interested in the Moon, planets and stars can start out in a more uncomplicated way. “Astronomy is like most hobbies,” said Dr. Greg Feiden, assistant astronomy professor at the University of North Georgia and the director of its observatory, which recently was rebuilt and which uses 24inch and 28-inch telescopes. “You can spend as much or as little as you want on equipment. It can be completely free as you walk out and take a look at the night sky.” An inexpensive star chart can make sense of the constellations. For somewhat more, a pair of sturdy binoculars costing less than $100 can bring the brighter celestial objects into view, astronomers said. For those doing their own viewing, patience pays off, Gossman stressed. He advises taking time to let your eyes adjust and utilizing peripheral vision to spot additional objects like planetary Moons. He advises people with home gear to
adjust their “finderscopes,” an aiming device, and align them with the main telescopes during the day. After dark, he noted, getting one’s celestial bearings can take a while even with advance planning and fancier computer-controlled systems. Increasing light pollution and Georgia’s typical summertime heat and humidity pose issues. Dundee said such pollution has increased greatly in recent years as metro Atlanta has surged northward. Georgia State University’s Dr. Sebastien Lepine, who chairs the physics and astronomy department, said the school’s observatory at Hard Labor Creek likewise grapples with the issue. He suggests getting at least 30 to 50 miles away from downtown Atlanta for better views, or perhaps climbing Stone Mountain. Likewise, he said, spotting the bands of the Milky Way are a well-outside-the-city experience. C
Places where you can observe the night sky The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville is open for public viewings with safety and social distancing requirements in place. Their planetarium is also open on a limited basis. Their planetarium is also open on a limited basis. Here are some other places in north Georgia where you often can find public events that allow you to study the night sky. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many now are closed to the public, but say they plan to reopen. Check their webpages for more up-to-date information. The University of Georgia observatory in Athens is closed and no date has been set for a reopening. The University of North Georgia astronomical observatory in Dahlonega is listed as closed due to its transition into a new facility as well as COVID-19 concerns and aims for to re-open in early 2021. Georgia State University’s Hard Labor Creek observatory east of Atlanta has eliminated open houses until further notice due to COVID-19. The same applies to the observatory on their Dunwoody campus. Bradley Observatory at Agnes Scott College in Decatur is closed until further notice. The Ralph Buice Jr. Observatory at Fernbank Science Center in DeKalb County is closed and aims to reopening for viewing opportunities around the first of the year. — Mark Woolsey
Art & Entertainment | 25
26 | Art & Entertainment
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Mapping Atlanta’s Murals
Atlanta Street Art Map celebrates documentation of 1,000th mural BY COLLIN KELLEY The convergence of retirement, a trip to New York City, and Instagram led Art Ruddick down an art-filled rabbit hole and the creation of a website to track Atlanta’s many murals. Ruddick’s Atlanta Street Art Map (streetartmap.org) has become a go-to site for finding Intown’s colorful wall art, as well as acting as an archive since so many of the murals disappear over time – either covered by graffiti or replaced with something new. Ruddick retired at the end of 2016 after a 32-year career with Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife took a trip to New York to visit his niece. Before a street art walking tour of the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, Ruddick’s niece suggested he download Instagram to his cell phone. “I was fascinated with the street art in Bushwick and started looking for more of it when I got back to Atlanta,” Ruddick said. “I thought my Instagram account would be perfect for street art content.” Beyond the visible and well-known murals in the city, Ruddick had no idea where to start looking for more. “I looked online and there was only a handful of websites that mentioned mu-
Ashley Dopson’s concept art for her new mural, “Fish Are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High,” for the wall outside the Krog Street Tunnel in Cabbagetown.
rals and when they did there was only a dozen or so,” he recalled. “And some of those had already been painted over.” As Ruddick set out on a quest to find more murals, he also figured out how to start his own website. By the time Atlanta Street Art Map went live in 2017, he had already photographed and documented 200 murals. The site not only divides the city into easily walkable districts, but also provides
a map, photo, and links (if available) to the artist’s website or social media. He’s constantly updating the site and has become Instagram friends with more than 160 artists who alert him about new murals going up in the city. Ruddick enjoys walking and driving to discover and document new street art. He also regularly checks on murals to see if they have been painted over or altered to keep the site as timely as possible. “Archiving the murals is important, because no one else is doing that,” Ruddick said. Late last year, Ruddick realized he was nearing 1,000 murals on the website and decided that an event should be held to celebrate the milestone. His idea was to mark the 1,000th mural he had documented with the creation of a new mural. Ruddick came up with the idea for an ATL1000 festival, which would include walking tours, artist talks, and more. Then the pandemic hit. Undaunted, Ruddick contacted John Dirga with the Cabbagetown Initiative about possibly having the commemorative mural painted on the wall leading to the entrance of the iconic Krog Street Tunnel. The Cabbagetown Initiative has curated the walls leading to the tunnel since 2003.
The Cabbagetown Initiative agreed to put up the mural with ATL1000 as a sponsor. A call went out over social media for artists to submit resumes and qualifications. More than 30 responded, and six were invited to submit mural proposals. By coincidence the 1,000th mural Ruddick documented for his site and the mural chosen for the Cabbagetown wall were created by the same local artist, Ashely Dopson, who goes by Ashely D. for her artwork. Dopson created a colorful Black Lives Matter mural for the KIPP Strive Academy in southwest Atlanta, which became Ruddick’s 1,000th mural for the Street Art Map site. For the Cabbagetown project, Dopson pays tribute to Miss Bertha, a three-decade resident of the former mill neighborhood. In the mural, called “Fish are Jumpin’ and the Cotton is High,” Miss Bertha floats happily in in a colorful koi pond. Dopson was still painting the mural at press time. Another ATL1000 partnership Ruddick is excited about is wish Power Haus Creative and its founder, Ash Nash. The “Goddess Glow” project will se multiple murals created by Black women for Black women and girls to see authentic reflections of themselves in street art.
WORTHWHILE CONVERSATIONS THREE KEYS FOR A STRANGE WORLD EVERYONE AGREES – 2020 MAKES THIS WORLD LOOK “STRANGE”. WHAT’S THE IMPLICATION FOR WEALTH PLANNING? The three things we hear from our families are these. Interest rates are virtually zero meaning that traditional “safe” investments are offering no meaningful return. Our retired clients are mostly in a “higher risk” age category from a pandemic context. Now more home-bound, they see changing spending patterns. They need to re-evaluate budgets and capital sustainability. Also, living through a bitterly partisan election cycle this year leads to a lot of uncertainty about the future economic and investing environment. SO, MOST COULD BENEFIT FROM SOME SOUND ADVICE TO ADDRESS THESE QUESTIONS. WHAT SHOULD ONE LOOK FOR IN WEALTH ADVICE? There are three keys. The first key is to find an advisor legally obligated to look out for your best interest in 100% of your interactions, throughout the relationship. Despite what most people believe, that is still not a legal requirement for the vast majority of the 300,000+ people in the United States who call themselves “financial advisors”. Get that assurance in writing. YOU SAID THERE WERE THREE… Seek an advisor with deep experience and solid credentials. Phillip Hamman, CFP®, CFA, who heads our Wealth Planning Committee has often said, “After our firm’s nearly 50 years of working with families, we like saying, ‘This is not our first rodeo!’”. In a complicated world that finds intersections between taxes, investments, risk management and the like, look for an experienced
Bill Kring, MaryJane LeCroy, and Phillip Hamman, discuss three keys for sound wealth planning advice in this “strange” new world. (Left to right: Phillip Hamman, CFA, CFP®; MaryJane LeCroy, CFP®; and Bill Kring, CFP®)
fiduciary advisor who is part of a well-credentialled team that includes CPAs, attorneys, and other similarly designated professionals to collaborate on your advice. WITH THE RIGHT ADVISOR, ARE PEOPLE LIKELY TO HEAR NEW AND DIFFERENT ADVICE THAN WHAT WAS SAID BEFORE WE ENTERED THIS STRANGE WORLD? Probably not as different as one might imagine. Good disciplined financial decision-making is a long-term exercise and should not be unduly reactive. That said, we are finding that our advice has to be somewhat adaptable to these newer challenges. Our team is ready right now to meet, either inperson, or virtually, to discuss the challenges you see in your current world.
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Education | 27
NOVEMBER 2020 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net
APS in-person delay divides local parents
Continued from page 1
“Even with truly fantastic teachers, it’s been difficult,” she said. “One area in which my son struggles is handwriting, and it’s not something that can be taught effectively in a remote situation. APS students are not receiving the same amount of instruction they would be if they were in school in person.” Buckhead resident David Hayes is chairman of the new Committee for APS Progress group, which he says is pushing for a return as soon as possible and aims to provide personal protective equipment to teachers and staff. He provided a scathing written statement from the group that blasted Herring and the Atlanta Board of Education for “ignoring the data and science” with an “obviously political” decision to delay in-person classes. “The negative effects of remote learning will be felt in our children’s development for years to come,” the statement says. “Every child has a right to an adequate education. Despite the heroic efforts of the teachers and staff of APS to date, remote learning is not adequate for all and sets many students up for failure.” North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, an organization representing the Buckhead-area North Atlanta cluster for over 40 years, appears to be threading the needle between the camps. In a written statement issued Oct. 26, NAPPS cited APS’s new equity policy and called for a “timeline for a safe return to face-to-face instruction” that would start with “students in the highest-risk groups” -- but also without pushing for the return to happen immediately. Asked whether NAPPS supports the January delay or has a particular timeline in mind, the group in an email said only, “NAPPS supports the district’s efforts to get kids in at-risk populations back in as soon as it’s safe.” The decision to delay the return until January, announced by Herring Oct. 16, came amid similar turmoil in neighboring school districts. The Fulton County School System began a return Oct. 14, and within days had to shutter two high schools due to COVID-19 cases, but remains open. The school systems in DeKalb County and the city of Decatur postponed their reopenings, with Decatur making a similar delay until January. Herring had previously announced a plan that would have had students returning in phases from Oct. 26 through Nov. 16. In a post on her blog that detailed the new plan, Herring said: “This decision comes after our continued monitoring and tracking of COVID-19 health data that is trending unfavorably, consultation with public health officials and healthcare experts, and data secured to determine both feasibility
and stakeholder feedback.” Among the feedback was a letter circulated by We Demand Safety APS that was signed by more than 3,800 parents, teachers and staff members. Feedback that Herring cited as influencing the change in the return plan was intent-to-return statements that APS solicited from parents and students. The North Atlanta cluster had the highest rate of intent to return, Herring said, adding that the rate varied widely across the district. The forms came only from traditional APS schools — not charter schools — and had a return rate of 58%, she said. “As a cluster, North Atlanta had the highest percent of students declare [an intent to return] in-person with 42%, compared to the Mays cluster [in West Atlanta], with only 19%,” Herring wrote. She said the three schools with more than 60% of students declaring an intent to return were all in the North Atlanta cluster: Morris Brandon, Jackson and Sarah Smith elementary schools. We Demand Safety APS is grassroots and unfunded, said Robin Deutsch Edwards, a parent involved in circulating its letter. “Everyone in the APS community wants to return to face-to-face learning; however, it is essential that it be done in a way that prioritizes safety,” the group said in the letter. The letter had five demands, including a rapid-testing and contract-tracing system; the creation of a task force about how to return to school in January; a commitment to provide proper personal protective equipment to teachers, staff and students; working with government officials for better testing and tracing in general; and to “leverage private-sector partnerships to provide greater support for students that need more direct engagement from educators during the school day.” For LaHiff, the parent with We Demand Safety APS, the delay is a chance to figure out a safe return that can unite parents she says are divided by such factors as different perception of safety and political views about the pandemic. “There’s no winners and losers,” and descending into opposition is “going to end badly for all of us,” she said. “We’re all striving for the same goal, to get our kids back to school. We’re just disagreeing currently as to the ‘when.’” For Schlottmann, the parent with the Committee for APS progress, there’s no time like the present. She said she and her husband work full-time and cannot carry out a quality education on their own. “We’re planning to start supplementing with tutors,” she said, “and we’re looking at options outside of APS for next year”
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41 AWARDS FOR EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE We’re honored that Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown have won 41 awards in the Georgia Press Association’s Better Newspaper Competition over the past three years. In 2019, the Reporter’s honors included eight first place awards in its category. The annual competition is judged by newspaper professionals from around the country and represent the highest journalism standards. Thank you to our readers, advertisers and peers who support our mission of providing trusted, hyperlocal community journalism.
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LOCAL COUPLE BRINGS ANIME, GAMING EVENT TO ATLANTA
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NATURE AND THEATER MERGE AT DUNWOODY’S PLAY-READING SERIES PAGE 26
Spring 2019 |
The PCIDs 20 years of shaping marks Perimeter Center COMMUNITY retail still works
BY JOHN RUCH
After 20 years of a population increasingly boom, jammed highways scraper-sprouting and skymega-developments, it may sound quaint that people about Perimeter worried Mall traffic way 1999. back in But the Perimeter Community provement Districts, Imof business propertythe self-taxing groups out of those concerns,owners that formed are among the sons the local boom has happened reawhy the traffic and isn’t even worse. to Perimeter If you go Center today, you may well get there via one of the big projects PCIDs pushed – like the Hammond the ramps on Ga. Drive 400 or the Ashford-Dunwoody Road diverging diamond change at I-285 inter– and you’ll see smaller touches they’re responsible for, scaping and rush-hour like landtraffic cops. “They had a reputation for, one, cleaning things up, providing number those cosmetic amenities we’ve some of all become used to,” said Ann Hanlon, who watched the CIDs form as resident and now a longtime Dunwoody serves as their director. “At the executive time, that was pretty revolutionary, that a private group was willing to pay for those amenities.” Back in 1999, the day cover Perimeter three cities that toCenter – Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs not yet exist. – did As the its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead to it has refocused sion on transportation, its misleaving previous proposals such as park-building ies. Transportation to the these days means citerything from evhelping to build trail networks multiuse to shaping the toll lanes and future of transit on Ga. 400 and I-285. That’s in addition to some of the PCIDs currently basics the provides or coordinates, like sidewalks and crosswalks, commuter shuttles, traffic signal timing and the rimeter Connects commuter advice Pevice. serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector is Center’s future, with
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Mount Paran and Powers Ferry Joe Card, the owner of this carriage house at the a plan to build a roundabout. roads intersection is calling for the city to stop
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City Springs theater group prepares for another season of packed houses
BY EVELYN ANDREWS
The Sandy Springs Reporter is mail delivered to homes on selected carrier routes in ZIPs 30327, 30328, 30342 and 30350 For information: email@example.com
As the City Springs Theatre Company prepares the final shows of its inaugural season, it’s also prepping for what it expects to be another season of packed shows as it tries to keep up with the enthusiasm and de-
mand from the community. The theater company survived major
leadership changes at City Springs and has succeeded in implementing one of the complex’s key initiatives – educational programming. “I’ve been involved in nonprofit theatre for 33 years now. I have never, ever in my career seen anything like the level of support and desire for musical theater,” Brandt See CITY on page 12
country store. “We’d like Sandy Springs to make a priority of residential neighborhoods and not Aar- out our podcasts Check make it a bypass for commuters,” said at ReporterNewspapers.net on Gill, a homeowner at the intersection. The start of the project is quickly approaching, with utility relocation expectconstruction ed to begin in the fall andThe DunwoodybyReporter is spring 2020. The city is currently working mail delivered to on securing right of way for the round-
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about. carrier routes in The $2.5 million project is expect-ZIP 30338 ed to cost $1.2 million for construction, For information: $800,000 for right of way and $300,000 firstname.lastname@example.org for design. The city did not respond to a request for comment, but has said the roundabout would improve safety by reducing side-impact crashes and installing pedestrian improvements. It’s also expectthe to according ed to reduce congestion, city.
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Layla Smith, left, and Corrine Ovellette, eighth-graders at Peachtree Charter School, ride the swings during Middle the 20th edition of the Lemonade Days festival, which ran April 24-28 at Brook Run Park. The festival this year raised money for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust and the Donaldson-Bannist er Farm.
DeKalb CEO touts Dunwoody unity in ‘State of County’ address
BY JOHN RUCH
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond touted unity as the force behind local resurgence, and cited his “odd couple” partnership with Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal as key bridge-building, in a special “State of the County” address to
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Spring 2019 | Where
The PCIDs marks 20 years of shaping Perimeter Center
BY JOHN RUCH
Main photo, the diverging SPECIAL at Ashford-Dunwoody diamond interchange Road and I-285 as it looked shortly after opening in 2012. Inset, the Hammond FILE Drive Ga. 400 shortly after interchange with it opened in 2011.
An increasingly residential sector is part of Perimeter Center’s future, with
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business leaders April 25.
Adding to the symbolism, the event – hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and the policy and lobby group the Council for Quality Growth – was not only held in Dunwoody, but in very same Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel ballroom where the city’s own annual “state See DEKALB on page 10
Dunwoody’s old Austin Elementary School, which was expected to close once a new, 900-seat version debuts P16 open temporarily next year, may remain as DeKalb Schools searches for ways to alleviate overcrowding. Doing so would mean extending a lease agreement between the city and the school district, but officials are being tight-lipped about their discussions. COMMENTARY The city currently owns the old school at 5345 Roberts Drive, originally built in 1975, as part of a 2016 land swap deal with DeKalb Schools. The agreement included the city trading the former Dunwoody Senior Baseball fields for the school property and DeKalb Schools paying the city $3.6 million. DeKalb Schools P18 is building the new school on Roberts Drive on the site of the former baseball fields and adjacent to the NEST ROBIN’S Dunwoody Nature Center, less than a halfmile from the current AES. The city has not finalized what it wants to do with the old school property once it is vacated, but talks have generally focused on creating a park space. The new Austin Elementary School is being built using 2011 special local option salesP19 tax funding. As part of the 2016 agreement, the city agreed to lease the old school to DeKalb
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Holy Spirit pla spurs talk of n agreement, lawsuits P10
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Celeb ratul rate Mem ation s to orial Day feed your family all the and Springs/B & friends 2019 grad
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RUCH johnruch@repo rternewspapers. net After
20 years increasingly of scraper-sprou jammed a population highways boom, it may ting and skysound mega-develop about Perimeterquaint that ments, 1999. Mall trafficpeople worried But the way back provement Perimeter in Community of business Districts, property the self-taxing Imout of those concerns, owners that groups sons the why the local boom are among formed the traffic has to Perimeter isn’t even happened reaand get there worse. Center If you today, via one PCIDs of the you may go pushed ramps big projects well – like woody on Ga. 400 the Hammond the or the Drive change Road diverging Ashford-Dun touches at I-285 – diamond and you’ll interscaping they’re responsible see smaller and rush-hour for, like “They had a traffic landone, cleaning reputation cops. those for, number cosmeticthings up, providing used amenities to,” some we’ve the CIDs said Ann all becomeof Hanlon, resident form as a longtimewho watched director. and now serves Dunwoody as their lutionary,“At the time, that was executive that to pay for those a private group pretty revoamenities.” Back was willing day coverin 1999, the Perimeter three cities en, Dunwoody that toCenter not yet and – Brookhavits next exist. As the Sandy Springs – did sion on 20 years, it PCIDs looks has proposalstransportatio refocusedahead to n, leaving its missuch as ies. Transportatio park-building previous erything from n these days to the cittrail networks helping to build means evtoll lanes to multiuse and transitshaping That’s the future in PCIDs addition to on Ga. 400 and I-285.of currently some like sidewalks provides of the basics shuttles, the or coordinates, and crosswalks, rimeter traffic signal Connects timing commuter vice. commuter and the An increasingly advice Peserpart of Perimeter residential Center’s sector is CONTINU future, with ED
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4920 Roswell uckheadThree GREAT while 404-255-63Road you celebra Emory locations 68 ! Area 1815 Briarcliff te! 404-474-94 Road Chamblee 44 5071 Peachtree/Brookhav Industrial en 770-451-11 Blvd. 12
Proposal for roundabout Wieuca is back P13
LOCAL BRINGSCOUPLE GAMING ANIME, EVENT TO ATLANTA
iness The PCI of sha Ds marks ping Per 20 yea imeter rs Center
Is this the killed Buckgun that namesake head’s deer?
Take steps to protect urban wildlife Mother’s Words of Wisdom
• VOL. 13 —
After 20 years of a population boom, increasingly jammed highways and skyscraper-sprouting mega-developments, it may sound quaint that people worried about Perimeter Mall traffic way back in 1999. But the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, the self-taxing groups of business property owners that formed out of those concerns, are among the reasons the local boom has happened and why the traffic isn’t even worse. If you go to Perimeter Center today, you may well get there via one of the big projects the PCIDs pushed – like the Hammond Drive ramps on Ga. 400 or the Ashford-Dunwoody Road diverging diamond interchange at I-285 – and you’ll touches they’re responsible see smaller for, like landscaping and rush-hour traffic cops. “They had a reputation for, number one, cleaning things up, providing some of those cosmetic amenities we’ve all become used to,” said Ann Hanlon, who watched the CIDs form as a longtime Dunwoody resident and now serves as their executive director. “At the time, that was pretty revolutionary, that a private group to pay for those amenities.” was willing Back in 1999, the three cities that today cover Perimeter Center – Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs – did not yet exist. As the PCIDs looks ahead to its next 20 years, it has refocused its mission on transportation, leaving proposals such as park-building previous to the cities. Transportation these days means everything from helping to build multiuse trail networks to shaping the future of toll lanes and transit on Ga. 400 and I-285. That’s in addition to some of PCIDs currently provides the basics the or like sidewalks and crosswalks,coordinates, commuter shuttles, traffic signal timing rimeter Connects commuter and the Peadvice service.
to remake Emory unveils $1B plan innovation district’ Executive Park as ‘health
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Take steps to protect urban wildlife
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ROBIN’S NEST Residents near the intersection of Mount Paran and Powers Ferry roads have rallied against a roundabout expected to be built early next year. They argue the roundabout will mostly help commuters while negatively affecting their properties, including requiring demolition of a P19 once used as a nearly century-old building
4920 Roswell Road 404-255-6368
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CongraCelebrate Memor tulatio ial Day ns to Let us feed and your family all the 2019 gradua Sandy Springs/Buckh Three & friends while
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Brookhaven Reporter Offer expires
Old Austin Elementary School may remain open to relieve overcr park owding New public
MAY 2019 • VOL. 11 —
SPECIAL diamond looked shortly Road and interchange I-285 as after opening it Inset, the in 2012. Hammond Ga. 400 Drive interchange FILE shortly after with it opened in 2011.
ersMill sidewalks HomeownTilly criticize spark right-of-way dispute ut roundabo threatening 1927 Take steps to protect buildingurban wildlife
NATURE AND THEATER MERGE AT DUNWOODY’S PLAY-READIN SERIES PAGE G
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After 20 increasingly years of a population jammed boom, scraper-sprouting highways and skyit may sound mega-developments quaint that about Perimeter people worried, Mall traffic 1999. way back in But the provement Perimeter Community Districts, Imof business the self-taxing groups out of those property owners that formed concerns, sons the local boom are among the why the has happened reatraffic and to Perimeter isn’t even worse. If you Center today, get there you may go via well PCIDs pushed one of the big projects – like the ramps on Hammond the Ga. 400 Drive woody or the Ashford-DunRoad diverging change diamond at I-285 – and you’ll intertouches they’re responsible see smaller scaping and rush-hour for, like “They had traffic cops. landone, cleaning a reputation for, those cosmeticthings up, providing number some of amenities used to,” we’ve all said Ann become the CIDs Hanlon, who watched form as a longtime resident and now Dunwoody serves as director. their “At lutionary, the time, that was executive that a private pretty revoto pay for group was those amenities.” willing Back in day cover 1999, the three cities that Perimeter en, Dunwoody toCenter – Brookhavnot yet exist. and Sandy Springs As the – did its next 20 years, PCIDs looks ahead it has sion on transportation, refocused its to misproposals leaving such as park-building previous ies. Transportation erything these days to the citfrom trail networks helping to buildmeans evmultiuse to shaping toll lanes the and transit That’s in on Ga. 400 future of addition and I-285. PCIDs currently to some of the like sidewalks provides or basics the and crosswalks,coordinates, shuttles, traffic signal commuter rimeter timing and Connects the Pecommuter vice. advice serAn increasingly part of Perimeter residential sector Center’s is future, with CONTINUED
Main photo, the diverging at Ashford-Dunwoody
Main photo, the diverging SPECIAL at Ashford-Dunwoody diamond interchange Road and I-285 looked shortly as it after opening in 2012. Inset, the Hammond FILE Ga. 400 shortly Drive interchange with after it opened in 2011.
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shows future of Executive Park it owns plan for the 60 acres and Musculoskeletal Emory University’s master colored in blue, including a new hospital and industrial. office medical and office buildings to rezone the property from retail to Center. Emory is seeking
300-plus properties could be affected ect by I-285 toll lanes proj AND JOHN RUCH BY DYANA BAGBY toll lanes on the The state’s plan to build impact a minimum of top end of I-285 could the corridor, rang300 properties all along easements to full ing from construction to city of Brookhavland takings, according en officials. City CouncilmemMayor John Ernst and about 50 people informed ber Linley Jones community meeting at attending an April 18
number they learned City Hall that was the with a Georgia Deafter a private meeting on project manpartment of Transportati did not know how ager. They also said they would be afmany Brookhaven properties
fected. affected on the The 300-plus properties located between Hentop end of I-285 are area in the east derson Road in the Tucker See 300 on page 23
BY DYANA BAGBY
Take steps to pro tec urban wildlife t
P18 revealed its $1 Emory University has Park, a “livebillion plan for Executive ROBIN’S that district” NEST work-play health innovation a hotel, multifamily includes a hospital, and office space. The housing and medical 15 years to build, but 60-acre plan will take center could start work on an orthopedic this year, Emory says. Park, a neighborLavista of Residents Park, are seekhood adjacent to Executive P19 Brookhaven, posing to be annexed into year, in part because sibly as soon as this a say in the developthey want to have
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The PCID of shapings marks 20 year s Perimeter Center
Left, John Beach, presid which repute ent dly killed the of the Buckhead Herita holds what is said to be neighborhood’s names ge Society, holds the “Buckh the same firearm ake deer in an undate in 1838. Right, Jamesead Gun,” d photo. (John Whitle Ruch/Specia y l)
After 45 ye launches a ars, a nonprofit citizen inpureview of NPU t system
The Neigh borhood Plann tem that ing Unit sysreviews plann ing, zonin other big g and issues ment is gettin for Atlanta city govern g a review downtown of its own. nonprofit A called the Civic Innov Center ation has begun a quiet, for but
potentially influential, series of meetin and survey s that aims to have reform gs ommendatio recns for the 45-year-old on the table system by March 2020. “There are things about tem] that [the NPU are amazi ng, and things syswe need to that have a lot more conve about,” said rsation CCI Execu tive Direct or Rohit See AFTER on page 14
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The woode with age. The n stock is beige and battere metal plate decorated above the trigger d with a pair is of birds. The long, heavy barrel is and octago nal. It’s an old sure. It might muzzleloading firearm even be the , deer that gave one that killed for Buckhead the 1838. its curious name in John Beach, Heritage Society president of the Buckh ead , is still trying to figure that For more on out, partly by trackin g John Beach, see the tales surrou Around Town, nding another little-known page 20. piece of area history – an quietly surviv 1842 ed destruction log cabin that to a Buckh by being ead back yard. moved Beach gave In the meant the Report ime, er an exclus ive close-
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Exploring ‘tiny parks’ on Buckhead’s PATH400 BY JOHN RUCH Buckhead’s PATH400 multiuse trail hosted dollhouse-style “tiny parks” in an art installation show and contest Oct. 1618. The more than 40 installations in the “Big PATH, Tiny Parks” displays were made by residents, local organizations and sponsors of the host groups, Livable Buckhead and Tiny Doors ATL. Among the works were a miniature farm and a tiny treehouse. “The goal is to demonstrate the value of increased green space in our community by showcasing how impactful community art is and the value of parks — no matter how small,” says Livable Buckhead’s website. The installations were 14-by-18 inches and were required to refer to recycling and to illustrate green space. For those who couldn’t make it in-person, a virtual version is available on Livable Buckhead’s website at livablebuckhead.com. “Tiny Parks” was partly a replacement for Livable Buckhead’s annual “Park(ing) Day,” which was to have its fifth annual edition in September but has been canceled due to the pandemic. In that event,
parking spaces at Lenox Square mall are turned into mini-parks and information booths. It is part of a national movement of turning car-oriented uses into temporary or permanent parks. PATH400 is itself a park as well as a trail, so “Tiny Parks” highlighted the significance of green space. Livable Buckhead oversees and programs PATH400, and Tiny Doors creates miniature doors on objects in public spaces around the metro area as whimsical art installations.
PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER
From top down: ■ A tree-themed park created by Pace Academy and Trees Atlanta. ■ Visitors explore the tiny parks along the trail. ■ A tiny park created by Play Atlanta. ■ Zach Dibble shows his park to visitors on the trail.
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