Author: Reporter Newspapers

Public input meetings are great; but is anybody listening?

Editor’s Notes John F. Schaffner This job takes me to a lot of meetings—many of which are public input sessions for one study or another. All of those input meetings seem to follow the same pattern. One might expect that all of the consultants conducting these studies—and thus the public meetings—either all went to the same school or least have read the same “how-to” books. One thing that has always amazed me is that these meetings are designed to obtain input from the public—seemingly about items on which no decision has yet been made—and yet rarely do you see anyone from the consulting group taking detailed notes. Of course, it is part of the practice to have someone with a notepad on an easel jotting down topics or subject matters, but rarely detailed notes. Every once in a while—mainly connected to state Department of Transportation projects—you will see a stenographer at one of these events. That person ostensibly is there to take the detailed comments of anyone who wants there comments put on the official record. The big question that I have asked many times—and recently I now have heard other participants in the process ask—is this: Is anybody listening? I mean are they really listening or is this an exercise they are required to go through? For instance, I recently attended a meeting of the BeltLine steering committee...

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City Briefs

Atlanta pedestrian safety lags national improvement While a study by the Centers for Disease Control found that U.S. roadways became safer for pedestrians between 2000 and 2004, conditions did not improve in Atlanta. Among the culprits cited by the CDC were urban sprawl, a lack of sidewalks and long street blocks. The report said the numbers of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in the U.S. dropped from 1.7 to 1.6, which was considered significant. However, in the 28-county Atlanta area, the rate remained essentially the same. The number in the Atlanta area actually increased from 1.6 in 2000 to 2.0 in 2004, but the study’s authors did not consider that meaningful due to a smaller data pool. One complaint about many of metro Atlanta’s main arteries is the distance between crosswalks, requiring pedestrians to walk hundreds of yards to cross at intersections to avoid jaywalking. The report found Atlanta pedestrian fatalities were more likely to occur away from road intersections, suggesting they occur among people walking along the sides of roads or crossing at mid-block. The report also noted that Hispanics in metro Atlanta had twice the risk of pedestrian fatality (2.5 deaths per 100,000) as Hispanics nationwide (1.3). Males and people between 15 and 54 also were at higher risk. The rate in the five counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett was 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 people...

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NPU-B discusses donations to Fire Station 21, holiday break-ins

By Louis Mayeux The holiday spirit keeps giving for Fire Station 21 on Roswell Road in Buckhead. A $500 donation from the Pine Hills neighborhood increased the amount raised at a Nov. 10 pancake breakfast at the fire station to $3,500.25, Neighborhood Planning Unit B (NPU-B) Human Services committee chairwoman Kendall Craig reported Dec. 4 during a committee meeting before the NPU’s regular meeting. NPU board member Sally Silver added that legislation sponsored by Seventh District Councilman Howard Shook will allow the station to receive the full amount, rather than it being split with other fire stations. “We’ll be buying things they need off their wish list – handheld GPS and other stuff,” Silver said. Silver also raised hope that a citywide firefighter foundation can be established to raise money to purchase needed equipment and provide maintenance. “This will help them get trucks they can count on starting up and GPS so they can find the fires,” she said.” Legislation passed in 2002 allowed the creation of foundations for the Atlanta police and firefighters, she said. “There already is a police foundation – Chief (Richard) Pennington ran with it.” But the firefighter’s foundation was never formed, she said, expressing hope that new chief, Kelvin J. Cochran, will make the foundation a reality. During the NPU regular meeting, $300 donations each to the city police and fire departments were approved...

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Moores Mill residents seek to stop trucks

By C. Julia Nelson Fifteen commercial trucks bearing more than six wheels illegally drove along Moores Mill Road in the Ridgeview Heights neighborhood of Buckhead between 10:20 and 11:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. Despite the four signs posted along Moores Mill, or the fact that the ordinance carries a $500 penalty, truck drivers still use the residential road as a cut-through. Almost a decade has passed since the City of Atlanta adopted ordinance 98-0-0204. It specifically prohibits commercial trucks in excess of 30 feet, weighing more than18 tons and having more than six wheels from traveling the stretch of Moores Mill Road between I-75 and Bolton Road. But to drive that length of road on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., one would never know such a thing existed based on current traffic patterns. Residents are concerned about the illegal use of Moores Mill after fighting for years to alleviate the traffic safety issue. During the last meeting in 2007 of the Neighborhood Planning Unit-C (NPU-C) at Trinity Presbyterian Church, a unanimous vote of 16-0 supported a resolution reminding Atlanta City Council of its obligation to enforce the ordinance. Heather Grimsely, President of the Ridgewood Heights Neighborhood Association, presented the resolution at the meeting. “In the last six months, (Moores Mill Road residents) have seen an increased volume of heavy trucks on Moores Mill, the majority of...

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Neighborhoods feel BeltLine plan is lacking clear direction

By John Schaffner editor@reporternewspapers.net The leadership of the Peachtree Hills Civic Association feels the BeltLine Master Plan work is suffering from “a lack of clear direction and the lack of a clear plan,” coupled with city planners and their hired consultants not doing basic research and not paying attention to comments from the public. And, Peachtree Hills is not alone in its concerns as the master planning public process nears its conclusion this month and in January. According to Peachtree Hills resident Frank Sommers, who grew up in Brookwood Hills and has a father who has been active in that association for years, Brookwood Hills neighborhood leaders share many of the concerns of Peachtree Hills over plans for the proposed Peachtree Creek Parkway and the routing of the PATH Foundation trail through the area of their neighborhoods. Also, during the Nov. 27 meeting of the BeltLine Master Plan Sub Area 7 stakeholders steering committee, Piedmont Heights representative Bill Seay was stunned to discover the Armour Drive/Armour Circle area, which this year was placed by the city in his neighborhood, was to be redeveloped as an industrial area rather than mixed-use residential that previously was his understanding. The Brookwood Hills, Peachtree Hills and North Collier Hills neighborhoods also feel their concerns are not being heard regarding proposed redevelopment density along Peachtree Road and stepping down into the edges of their...

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