By John Schaffner

editor@reporternewspapers.net

Some 130 residents attended the annual meeting of the North Buckhead Civic Association on March 27, and most of the discussion centered on the new Wieuca Road campus of Sarah Smith Elementary School, which is scheduled to open next January.

Atlanta Board of Education member Katy Pattillo, Sarah Smith Principal Sidney Baker and development project manager Al Scenna spoke about the new school, which they announced will house third to fifth grades. Kindergarten through second grade will be housed in the nearby current Sarah Smith facility.

Scenna showed the audience a site plan for the new school and the property, as well as a rendering of the 67,000-square-foot facility. The classroom wing will be two stories.

Scenna also spoke about the efforts to save mature trees at the site.

Because parents in the neighborhood had thought the new facility would house kindergarten through second grade, the three were asked when the plan flopped.

Baker said the decision was made some months ago and was based on the thought of not having current kindergartners and first-graders move to the new facility for part of the first and second grade, then move back to the old facility for their later grades.

The audience seemed to receive that explanation well.

The principal said Sarah Smith will be “the same school but on two campuses.”

The bulk of the discussion with the three school representatives centered on parking, student drop-off procedures, and especially sidewalks and traffic calming along Wieuca Road approaching and at the school.

One person asked whether there would be a traffic signal on Wieuca at the school. School officials are working with the city on that, as well as on issues regarding sidewalks and possible traffic calming.

The calming of traffic along Wieuca also was a major issue of discussion with two other speakers for the evening, the Atlanta Police Department’s new Zone 2 commander, Maj. Robert Browning, and state Rep. Ed Lindsey.

Browning, who replaced Maj. James Sellers when he retired in mid-February, said one of the main problems with ticketing speeders along Wieuca Road is that, although the city lowered the speed limit on the road a couple of years ago from 35 to 25 mph, the state mandates that laser guns be used only to record speeds of 35 mph and higher.

He said the Atlanta police are trying to get the state to allow them to use those devices to record speeders between 25 and 35 mph. But until the state makes that change, Browning said, his officers can only tail most speeders and clock them to write a ticket.

The audience then turned to Lindsey to prod him to get the state to make the needed change regarding speeders.

Browning said everyone can contact him through e-mail at rbrowning@atlantaga.gov.

At the end of Browning’s segment on the two-plus-hour meeting agenda, Sellers was presented an “Outstanding Citizen” award from the NBCA for his years of service to Buckhead neighborhoods.

Lindsey spoke about developments in the Georgia General Assembly and said this has been his “most difficult legislative session.”

“We are in the middle of a very difficult time,” he said.

He spoke of the need to set priorities in education funding and the need to be fairer in property tax assessments, as well as about legislative initiatives.

A highlight came early in the meeting when Buckhead history author Susan Kessler Barnard narrated a large collection of historical Buckhead photographs that had never been viewed. She is author of “Buckhead: A Place for All Time” and will soon be publishing a book of historical Buckhead photographs.

The items covered included the naming of Ivy Road (from the Ivey family), the Peachtree Gardens Club (a dance hall that stood at North Ivy Road) and an early photo of Lenox Square Mall.

The meeting at St. James United Methodist Church on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road was preceded by a social hour with a buffet dinner.