By John Schaffner

E. Rivers Elementary School, at Peachtree Road and Peachtree Battle Avenue, hopes to see construction begin soon on the first phase of a project that has been in the works for several years: a field house on the school’s sports fields and a decorative fence that will help call attention to Atlanta’s first public school and the only one along Peachtree Road.

The school’s PTA is working to raise money for the two projects, which are expected to cost about $200,000 each or a total of $400,000.

“The project for the fence started several years ago under the previous principal, who was hoping Atlanta Public Schools would pay for it,” Christianna McCaleb said. But APS would not pay for the fence.

“At that point, we started the long process of seeing what we could do with the fence,” the design director at Carlson & Mosley Architects and E. Rivers parent said. “That grew into a larger project. Let’s make the sidewalks safer, and let’s add a field house because we have a lot of sports down here on the field on the weekends. Now we have a fundraiser going on to try to get money to get all of this built.”

She and her husband, Mark Mosley, a principal in the architecture firm, said the school has obtained most of the funds for the field house “through donations and people coming on board to keep the project moving forward.”

McCaleb and Mosley have rendered drawings for the fence, a new facade for the school and improvements to the paths around the school. Keith Summerour, another architect, is doing the drawings for the field house.

“He lives in this neighborhood and has been able to rally some of the neighbors,” McCaleb said. “We plan to break ground on that project this May or at least by summer. We are hoping to continue that energy and continue raising funds for the fence.”

McCaleb explained, “we think this is important. E. Rivers School has a remarkable history and remarkable story,” McCaleb said. “We really want the community to know what a great school this is and not to just drive by and miss it because of the chain-link fence that is falling down.”

“The fence is a lot of brick, a lot of steel and a lot of engineering,” Mosley said. The main sign will be at the corner of Peachtree and Peachtree Battle, and the fence will continue to the bridge over Peachtree Creek, a total of 770 lineal feet.

The plans also call for reworking the area leading to the school’s parking lot to make it safer for students to get to the school and to hide the trash and recycling receptacles. The field house will be on the fields and will provide restrooms, a concession stand and storage for the sports teams.

A large part of the project is the fundraising effort. Early on, the project focused on student fundraising “where each student brought in a dollar to get them involved.”

There is an ongoing effort that involves selling rolls of toilet paper during the season near the portable toilet on the ball fields.

“We plan to have a fair-trade fundraising activity with the kids, which includes a cocktail party on May 14,” McCaleb said. The fair-trade fundraiser involves the students selling goods that are made by people in developing countries, helping sustain their economies and supporting small farmers around the world. The school will get 40 percent of the sales. “It ties into E. Rivers being an International Baccalaureate school,” McCaleb said.

The school hopes to start on the fence by the summer of 2010.