By John Schaffner

The Marist School made a presentation of its “Vision 2020” long-range strategic plan to the Ashford Alliance Community Association Sept. 17 after filing for the special use-permit required for the independent Catholic school to renovate its campus on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven.

Marist’s president Rev. John Harhager explained that the school’s campus is getting older and parts of it needs to be replaced. He said the present construction plans will be rolled out in phases and take at least 10 years to complete, replacing one building at a time so school can remain in session.

Attorney Dennis Webb, who is with the firm of Smith, Gambrell & Russell and represents the school in the zoning and special-permit applications, said the renovations will add 15-20 percent more square feet to the 80-acre campus, but indicated there would be no change in enrollment from the current 1,076 students.

On the south side of the campus, Webb said the plan calls for rebuilding, expanding and renovating the core buildings. The plan calls for replacing the current Kuhrt gymnasium with a new building to include classrooms and a new cafeteria. Laird gymnasium will be expanded to allow for more activities.

Webb said the plan also calls for enclosing the breezeways between buildings facing the front circle to provide a formal, glassed-in school entrance. A campanile will also be added to the chapel. A final phase will involve building a new arts wing to replace the existing Woodruff Auditorium.

On the north side of Nancy Creek, Marist plans to take down a 30,000-square-foot building that formerly housed a school and use the land for student parking, practice fields and additional tennis courts.

Webb assured those attending the AACA meeting that stormy night that the fields will not be lighted and will not have public address sound systems. A small concession stand with restrooms and storage area will be the only building on the north side of Nancy Creek.

Webb said a vehicle bridge will connect the south side of the campus to the new parking area, which will not be asphalt but will use a pervious surface that will not inhibit drainage.

Webb assured the neighborhood representatives that Marist does not plan to open a roadway from the campus to West Nancy Creek Drive, but the school eventually will open up a driveway from the north side of the campus onto Ashford-Dunwoody Road, but that is not in the immediate future.

The hearing on Marist’s request for a special-use permit willbe in November.