Author: Reporter Newspapers

Standout Student

Editor’s Note: Reporter Newspapers is pleased to highlight students who go above and beyond at their school and in their community. If you know a secondary school student who meets these criteria, please send in a nomination via e-mail to editorial@reporternewspapers.net. Student Profile: Ashley Newman, 17 The Westminster Schools, junior Ashley Newman, daughter of Anne Marie and Myron Newman has been riding horses since she was 4. As a seventh-grader, Newman volunteered for and donated her horse Dixie to the Chastain Therapeutic Riding program, which benefits disabled and at-risk children by providing opportunities to participate in therapeutic horseback riding to build muscle coordination, confidence and self-esteem. “Volunteering with the Chastain Therapeutic Riding program has had a tremendous impact on my life,” she said. It has had such a profound impact that in 2005 with help from the Atlanta Track Club, Newman founded the Chastain Chase, an annual fundraiser run dedicated to supporting scholarships for the riding program. Now in its fourth year, the Chastain Chase, has raised more than $15,000. “It’s a great way to incorporate my love for horses and as well as my love for community service and running,” Newman said. This year’s event, scheduled on Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 a.m., will feature three races: a 5k, a one-mile fun run and a Tot Trot for children 10 years old or younger. Pre-registration costs for the...

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Connect Atlanta study announces public transportation workshops

By C. Julia Nelson cjnelson@reporternewspapers.net Last fall, the Atlanta Bureau of Planning began a yearlong process to develop the Connect Atlanta Plan, the first comprehensive transportation plan for the City of Atlanta. This plan will guide the next 25 years of transportation policy and investment and is dependent upon input from the community. Based on a continuous influx of residential and economic growth in Atlanta, the Bureau of Planning has identified a need to provide a transportation plan that relieves the stress on Atlanta’s transportation infrastructure. Included in this plan will be measures to insure mobility, continued economic growth and quality of life for citizens, commuters and visitors in addition to an efficient, effective and affordable transportation plan. In an effort to extract information from residents and other stakeholders, the bureau has organized an interactive series of public Connect Atlanta workshops. There are four sets of workshops divvied up based on neighborhoods segments around the city. The first of these workshops will encompass the Buckhead area. Public meetings will be held on Monday, Feb. 11 and Thursday Feb. 14 for NPUs A, B, C, D, G, J, K and L. Both meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Georgia-Pacific Center Auditorium, located at 133 Peachtree St. N.E. Heather Alhadeff, assistant director for the Bureau of Planning, said community input from residents, commuters and visitors at these sessions...

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Two responses to decision process on park PATH

The following is the reaction to the BeltLine’s and city’s decision, related to the route of the trail through Tanyard Creek Park, by Steven Hart. He spent endless hours as a citizen representative working with the BeltLine on the Northside BeltLine Master Plan recommendation, and Lee Richardson, a landscape architect who provided input on the Tanyard Creek Trail options. You know, it’s interesting – if you go to the Atlanta Beltline web site, you’ll see that the “Conceptual Plans” prepared by Glatting Jackson for the Northside Study Area show only the West Side option for the route through Tanyard Creek Park, with absolutely no mention of the other routes apparently “under consideration” by the Beltline. This underscores the fact that as of at least October 1, the Sub-Area Master Plan was proceeding with the community’s preference and makes me wonder at what point the decision to evaluate the “alternatives” actually occurred and why Glatting Jackson was really excluded from the final decision making. Again, the real issue here is that the Beltline abandoned the Sub-Area Master Plan process and started micro-managing the decisions with its own ad hoc process (internal evaluation, backed up by a Sub-Cabinet vote to give it the appearance of legitimacy) when it appeared that the results of the open process prescribed by the city council were going in a direction not of their liking. Why...

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BeltLine CEO explains trail decision-making process

By Terri Montague President & Chief Executive Officer, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. It’s been called the most ambitious urban revitalization project in the nation, perhaps the world. A complex redevelopment project like the BeltLine doesn’t come without challenges and sometimes conflict. On the surface, there are a variety of seemingly competing interests, but it’s our job to find the balance among them. The trail hugging the edge of Tanyard Creek Park’s meadow will connect neighborhoods and two existing sections of trail. Its route will reflect a balance of community preferences and environmental impact. And it will be forged now after seven years of discussion inherited most recently by the BeltLine planning process, which has included 10 public meetings in the last seven months. Further public meetings are upcoming to review and comment on the complete trail design package from Ardmore Park to the Northside Drive/Woodward Way intersection. Have we listened to the community? Two potential bridge crossing locations and one entire trail alignment were eliminated in direct response to community input. And equally important to our obligation to buffer the stream from environmental impact of the trail, we have taken seriously the community’s desire to buffer the meadow from the trail. That visual impact will be minimized by routing the trail through existing naturalization areas and restoring new naturalization areas along the trail edge and between the trail and the...

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Mayor blames budget deficit on errors, bad city budgeting

By John Schaffner editor@reporternewspapers.net Mayor Shirley Franklin told the Atlanta City Council’s finance/executive committee Jan. 30 the city is facing a $70 million deficit in its fiscal 2008 budget due to budgeting errors, inappropriate budgeting practices and general economic factors. This shortfall is nearly as large as the $80 million one the mayor faced when she took office in 2002 after the stewardship of Mayor Bill Campbell. According to Franklin, the city failed to foresee $30 million in higher costs for fuel, health insurance, litigation expenses and other items. But, according to the mayor, there were more serious problems with incorrectly budgeted items and at least $38 million of expenses the city simply failed to budget for at all—including $11 million for Internal Revenue Service penalties and for its overtime settlement with the Atlanta police; $18 million in workers compensation payments, pension payments and salaries; and $8 million for Underground Atlanta, which the city underwrites. Another $21 million in underestimated expenses came from several items the city “incorrectly budgeted” according to the mayor. These included overbudgeting the revenue the city receives from hotel/motel tax and underbudgeting the amount of money necessary to fund trash pickup and 911 services. She said that practice goes back decades, but she was only recently made fully aware of it. As if that news is not bad enough, the mayor said the city expects...

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