DeKalb Training Center too valuable to be library site

To the editor:

This letter is written to set the record straight. I hope that future articles in your new publication will be well researched. The article about the library site (“Final chapter unwritten for dispute over library site,” Feb. 6-19) contained some very inflammatory opinions and was unresearched. Having shown this article to many individuals, I must speak out.

Ronnie Mayer, the president of the Ashford Park Civic Association, “has a plan”: He wants to relocate the Brookhaven Library to Brookhaven Park on the corner of Osborne and Peachtree roads. He is quoted as saying, “It belongs to the county now, and they call it the dog park. The building that is there now (the DeKalb Training Center) is run down, eaten up by termites, and they just keep patching it up every year.”

He suggests relocating the day training program for 175 adult retarded citizens from all over DeKalb County to one of the county’s closed elementary schools.

I submit that the above remarks are erroneous and insulting to the county and its citizens. With research, the following facts would have been found:

• This training center for 175 developmentally disabled citizens, unlike most in the state, was built especially to house a program of this type for disabled citizens and serves those individuals who live in this county and have further need of training beyond school age. These are people who experience the most sever handicaps, i.e. nonambulatory, nonverbal or in need of speech therapy, lack of eye-hand coordination, and lack of gross and fine motor skills. The staff includes physical therapists, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, and specifically trained people to teach and guide.

In years gone by, these individuals, were put off in old, termite-eaten, closed-up schools that nobody wanted, but fortunately we in DeKalb County moved beyond those sad days. Mayer would apparently like to see those days return if he can get a library moved into the building. Did he or the reporter talk to a family member of any of the individuals at the center?

• This site was originally a VA hospital, and when it closed, the federal government kept it closed and surrounded it with fencing for several years while the soil was tested regularly for contamination. When the tests were completed and the site was able to be built upon, the U.S. government told DeKalb County it could have it, provided the county used it for the public good. Many of us in this county knocked on doors to secure signatures to put a bond issue referendum on the ballot in 1975 to build the center, which was housed at that time in an old, closed public school in bad condition.

The bond issue passed, and the center opened in 1978. Recently, the center celebrated its 30th anniversary and a paint and fix-up project costing approximately $250,000.

The building was never a falling-down, termite-ridden eyesore, as described in your article. All buildings need paint and fix-up projects from time to time.

• Mayer also suggests a coffee shop and other projects that would result in constant traffic. After the center was built, the families of attendees and others worked to get bond issues passed to develop the rest of the raw land into a lovely park with a picnic shelter and a ball field. It is an island of peace and calm in a bustling city. No other building or traffic is wanted or needed.

The program is operated by the DeKalb Community Service Board in an agreement with DeKalb County. It is statewide and nationally known as one of the best.

The county departments do a great job keeping this site, and a complete redesign and great expenditures are not necessary. Anyone quick to make suggestions should come out, sit under one of the beautiful trees, listen to the birds sing and take a walk in the park.

Beverly Y. Parsley

Where was Israel at Model Arab League?

To the editor:

I read with interest one of the articles on activities in our schools, “Middle East solutions spring from young minds at Marist” (Feb. 6-19). It described a yearly exercise at Marist in which students take on the role of delegates to the Arab League in a “Model Arab League” and refers to the exercise as sponsored by an Arab group.

Your description was benign: The students practice negotiating as model diplomats and learn the value of negotiation and compromise. But the topic was “the plight of Palestinians.”

If in fact the object was to let bright students practice diplomacy and negotiation, should not one of the principal parties in that debate have been represented? I refer to Israel, of course.

Why exactly does a political lobbying organization get to set the tone of curricular activities in our schools? More important, what is the long-term goal and effect? These bright high school students will take away a clear bias toward the complex issues of the Middle East way into their adult lives.

Is that Marist’s intent? If not, then should not Marist have afforded those same bright students the opportunity to hear and debate the other side, rather than adopt a convenient template from a one-sided lobby?

Marist is free to support one side of the issue, as it clearly does. The Reporter is free to simply report on an activity, as it did.

We, the readers, are free to denounce both the failure of the school to expose its students to both sides of an issue and to express disappointment that your reporter failed to point out the gaping flaw, even in a community newspaper that has no claim to being a platform for debate on global issues.

Guedy J. Kadosh

Don’t forget the drought

To the editor:

I am writing in dismay after reading “Get an early start for a long-lasting, healthy lawn” in the March 6-19 issue. In the article, lawn care provider TruGreen outlines guidelines, including “Water your lawn heavily and infrequently” — with no mention that current restrictions prohibit watering existing turf grass and have for almost a year.

I had planned to write to ask you to help place the drought back in the headlines. This article is the best evidence I can offer that we need to remind and be reminded of the severity of the drought and the continued restrictions on water usage.

For detailed on the current water restrictions, go to www.atlantawatershed.org.

Despite the desire many homeowners have for a lawn that makes their neighbors green with envy, protecting our water supply long term is far more important.

Deborah Garrard