The Atlanta Police Foundation held one of its annual fundraising events on April 13 and concerned some residents and the Buckhead Coalition by closing Roswell Road and flashing police lights on various automobiles.
Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said he thought the event, “A Night in Blue,” supports an admirable cause, but that it was a major error to close a heavily-trafficked Buckhead road during rush hour while traffic is already congested from the collapse of I-85.
“The only error they made was blocking the roadway,” Massell said of the event held in Charlie Loudermilk Park.
He said the coalition encourages gatherings and parties that benefit the public, but people were “unnerved and concerned” by the road closure, which was on Roswell Road between Charlie Loudermilk Park and the Buckhead Theatre.
The coalition has been urging businesses, nonprofits and individuals to not hold major events and not block traffic lanes due to the “horrific” condition of Atlanta traffic, he said. Massell only found out shortly before the event, which was planned prior to the I-85 collapse, that organizers would close a major road in Buckhead.
The event’s road closure was brought up in discussion before the meeting of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods convened. Some people were not aware the event was taking place and were surprised and concerned to see the road closed. Someone also thought there was a bomb scare or some other catastrophe due to the presence of heavily armored vehicles and flashing lights.
Nikki Forman, the vice president of communications for the Atlanta Police Foundation, which helps fund police programs, said they have not received any negative feedback about the road closures and that the road was closed for about two hours from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. She also said the organization obtained a permit to close the road before I-85 collapsed.
The event has been a gala in the past, but was revamped this year to be interactive with several exhibits, including virtual reality technology and a SWAT firing simulator. Some exhibits and vehicles could not be placed in the park so they had to close the road, she said, but she does understand people’s concern.