To the editor:

It is my understanding that the Atlanta school board is considering building a new high school in the Buckhead area at the Paces Apartment on E. Andrews Drive between West Paces Ferry Road and Roswell Road.

As an architect/town planner, I have the following concerns:

Traffic

1. West Paces Ferry Road is extremely congested during a.m. and p.m. peaks.

2. Roswell Road’s traffic is also beyond capacity.

3. Additional high school traffic with busses, student, faculty, and staff automobiles will exacerbate this.

4. Being that West Paces Ferry and Mt. Paran Roads are the only east-west arteries, increased traffic volume on West Paces Ferry will shift some traffic to Mt. Paran Road causing two historically important residential neighbors to be traffic impacted.

5. Increased traffic congestion increases air and noise pollution.

6. All the above leads to a lack of desirability to live on these streets thus lowering their property values – especially disastrous during this economic downturn.

7. The high school’s location will negatively have an impact on a much broader area because of traffic, air and noise pollution.

8. The further clogging of these arteries will also have a negative economic impact on the Buckhead business district.

Land use

1. It is an improper land use practice to place a large high school (institutional) contiguous to a single family land use.

2. A rezoning for a school use requires a Special Use Permit, and has this process been started? I would assume that the city would require an environmental impact statement.

3. Is this proposed use in compliance with the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan?

School’s physical characteristics?

1. School size – area.

2. Size of campus’ site and location and types of structures on site.

3. Number of students, faculty, and staff.

4. Number and location of parking spaces for buses, students, faculty, and staff.

5. Location of entrance and exit drives and curb cuts.

6. What kind of athletic facilities – size and location of football stadium, practice fields, tennis courts, and others? What is the noise impact of the stadium?

7. What is the architectural character of the facility in size, scale, style as it relates to contiguous neighborhoods?

Citizen participation

1. What has been the process used for citizens’ participation? The school board should require a meaningful citizens’ participatory process relative to site selection and design of the high school.

Land costs

1. Land costs to acquire 30 acres of apartments by eminent domain is extremely costly especially when the owners are reluctant to sell. It is unreasonable to saddle tax payers with excessive land cost during a recessionary period.

Conclusion

A major high school campus in the wrong location will have a disastrous impact on surrounding neighborhoods. The selection of a site for the Buckhead high school at the East Andrews Road location would be extremely detrimental.

It is my professional opinion that a site on Northside Parkway north of I -75 would be superior by far.

Paul Muldawer