A special study committee recommends the city of Sandy Springs spend $2.5 million to lure a branch of Gwinnett Technical College to property near the North Springs MARTA station – a recommendation that has drawn opposition from residents and is dividing members of City Council.

Ray Persons, who chaired the city-appointed study committee, called the property MARTA owns near its North Springs station “head and shoulders above any other site we looked at” as a potential location for the school. City officials said locating the school at the property could require widening Peachtree-Dunwoody Road from Abernathy Road to Spalding Drive, which could cost an extra $8 million to $9 million.

Gwinnett Tech has asked communities in north Fulton County to submit bids on the site of a new college, which is expected to cost $40 million to $50 million.

Neighbors attending a snow-delayed City Council meeting Jan. 13 said the school –- which promoters want to call “Sandy Springs College” – would dramatically increase traffic in their communities or that the cost to the city was too great.

“I view this site as our trump card,” resident Sharon Griswold said. “That is such a prime site to lure a major corporation to this city, without having to pay the $2.5 million.”

Several council members expressed reservations about the proposal, which the council is expected to debate again and act upon during its next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 18.

“The location at North Springs MARTA station is just wrong,” Councilwoman Ashley Jenkins said. “You’re taking a valuable piece of property off the tax rolls forever.”

But other city officials appeared open to backing the plan. Mayor Eva Galambos spoke strongly in favor of it. “I know we all get elected in the short run,” the mayor said, “but I’m asking each of you to look at the long run of this community.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.