Down the Epstein rabbit hole

To the editor:

In reference to the July 11 letter to the editor from Robert Franco, the president of the Epstein School’s board of trustees: I can’t help being reminded of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and “Curiouser and Curiouser” in Wonderland.

The letter, our continuing discussions and the Epstein School’s communications are all prime examples of the difficulty of the neighborhood and Sandy Springs in nailing down the facts and culling out miscommunication. I hope it’s not part of the school’s strategy in managing the press and public opinion. We should be working jointly on eliminating problems and coming to mutually agreed to, not one-sided, solutions.

If you look at the subtleties of the handling and information presented to date, you get a real sense of where we stand. One can sense the emotion in the letter and its tone, but we all should be objective and as clinical as we can be in looking at the Epstein School problem:

• Mr. Franco indicates that “nearly half of our students are city residents.” We, as a neighborhood, have worked five months in getting the Epstein School to define what that specifically means and to separate fact, myth and reality.

• There were seven meetings with the community. Every time we asked for specific data and facts and got generalities and misdirection, much less any full disclosure and a sense of bargaining in good faith. Now we hear of a busing proposal — something that was initially indicated by the school and Stan Beiner, the headmaster, as never being a possibility. Interestingly enough, the school imposes on our neighborhood more than 350 cars in an hour twice a day, and the full traffic load of 350 cars indicated by the school’s experts is questionable.

• The school is in a residential neighborhood, unlike all other parochial and private schools in Sandy Springs. It’s going to be a real challenge for our elected officials to consider community, and not commercial, interests.

• In a recent letter to residents, the school subtly changed definitions again and now is calling the project “a renovation.”

• In a meeting at Sandy Springs City Hall on June 24, there was an outpouring of community sentiment and opposition to the plan from more than 200 residents, almost the room’s capacity. Mr. Franco calls that a “small group of activists.”

• A small strip of land bordering a parking lot is again being called a park.

I’m still trying to reconcile myself with Mr. Franco’s rhetoric, choice of words and use of the term “egregious.” But that’s OK. We need to work out any differences and keep some semblance of harmony and being good neighbors.

Tom Johnson

Epstein renovation is part of better city

To the editor:

David Davis made many incorrect statements in his July 11 letter, “School is taking our neighborhood.” The Epstein School gave serious consideration to the input received from neighborhood meetings in its renovation plans. The design includes getting cars off the street and inside the school grounds. Park space will be added along Bridgewater to enhance the neighborhood. The theater will be an asset and available to the neighborhood for community functions.

My children attended High Point Elementary School, The Epstein School, and Riverwood and North Springs high schools. As adults, they moved to Sandy Springs primarily so they could send their children to the terrific public and private schools in the area. I enthusiastically support this smart growth and renovation of The Epstein School.

In another bit of misinformation, Davis writes, “The Abernathy expansion alone razed 42 homes for the benefit of Cobb County commuters.”

I was one of those 42 homeowners and am relieved to be off Abernathy. It became a minihighway with tremendous backup of traffic and noise. Homes were run-down and often rented, and yards were not maintained. This expansion was a benefit to those of us trapped on Abernathy.

Improvements with the wider road and new park and green space will make the street attractive and much more effective in moving folks through Sandy Springs onto I-285 and Ga. 400 as well as into Cobb County.

I have lived in Sandy Springs for nearly 40 years and continue to find affordable living spaces, including my most recent acquisition, after the sale on Abernathy and shortly after retirement.

I view these expansion and renovation projects as a positive sign of the progress and visionary leadership of our Sandy Springs community.

Sherry Z. Frank