To the Editors:

It is unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising from a publication that markets itself as reaching “130,000 readers in Atlanta’s wealthiest ZIP Codes,” that the Buckhead Reporter continues to bang the drum of panic about a purported “traffic nightmare” should a public high school be sited at The Paces site on East Andrews Drive.

Here’s a suggestion for the Buckhead Reporter: Do some actual reporting. Start with a visit to 2875 Northside Drive, (North Atlanta High’s address) any morning at 8 o’clock, as school begins. Report whether there is a “traffic nightmare” on the streets nearby. Conduct a simple traffic count, for goodness sakes, or ask opponents whether they have conducted their own. Ask nearby residents (there are no adjacent businesses) whether their lives are disrupted by a neighborhood school in their, uh, neighborhood. For that matter, ask the same question of those who live near Sutton Middle, or Sarah Smith, or the many other community schools in your coverage area.

You have chosen to report only those voices who, driven by an agenda one can only guess at, consider the siting of a public high school adjacent to a bustling and extremely upscale commercial district to be some sort of catastrophe. It’s worth noting that those voices include two city councilpersons, public officials who “voted with their feet” and educated their kids in private schools.

The tract is, after all, for sale to the highest bidder, and any rational commercial developer will need to build density far, far in excess of that of a public high school. It’s even arguable whether a high school will generate greater traffic counts than the 200-plus apartments already present on the site. Most of our kids arrive by school bus — actual reporting would reveal that.

Another suggestion: Interview a knowledgeable expert on commercial development and get their opinion of the likely traffic impacts of high-density office, residential or mixed-use development on that 30-acre site, compared to that of a neighborhood school.

Some North Atlanta students are wealthy; most are not. Are the unsubstantiated claims of congestion and environmental degradation really red herrings for uglier objections? One has to wonder. And that would be a story actually worth reporting.


Chris Riggall