To the editor:

I recently had the opportunity to read a letter to the editor in the April 5-April 18 edition of the Sandy Springs Reporter written by Patrick Burke with the Fulton County School System. I was a participant in that meeting [discussed in the letter] and realized that I did not provide a very hospitable attitude for Mr. Burke. I would like to take this opportunity to provide Mr. Burke and other members of the staff a much more warm welcome to Sandy Springs.

This is a young city, but a community with a very long history of activism. It may have taken more than 35 years to gain cityhood, but once we did, we took off and embraced concepts that left many traditionalists shaking their heads.

When you first enter the city, you will probably be welcomed by a turtle and soon realize this is a city where pigs fly. Just go ask the various members of the state Legislature that endured a constant barrage during their sessions for approving a simple vote to authorize the establishment of a new city in the state of Georgia. Welcome to Sandy Springs.

While it may have appeared to have the potential for confrontation on March 27, it really amounted to an educated and well-informed constituency that intended to be involved in any decisions regarding their schools.

Those in attendance, for the most part, fully understand the necessity for site-selection issues to be proprietary. What we don’t understand is why issues related to the schools involved in these discussions are not readily available. That is not privileged information.

We also understand that the vote for the E-Splost was for the rebuilding and not the relocating of Heards Ferry Elementary. I would suggest taking advantage of an engaged, educated and informed constituency, rather than closing them out of the discussion. Identify the problem, provide your thoughts and then listen for other alternatives that might provide better solutions.

The current prototype may no longer have a shelf life in light of current property restrictions that the school system will certainly have to address in future property acquisitions. Simply do not tell us that when the decision is made, you will tell us what that decision is.

This community will insist in being a part of the solution. Just go ask the members of the Fulton County Commission. Welcome to Sandy Springs.

It is unfortunate that you were pushed in front of the microphone by the elected official that supposedly is providing representation and advocacy on behalf of the residents of Sandy Springs. To duck behind state law regarding real estate transactions to avoid any questions or even look voters in the eye and provide a foundation for considering options was unfortunate.

The citizens of this community expect and demand accountability for those asked to serve in positions of leadership. They may not agree with the decisions, but they have continuously shown that they respect the process as long as they are engaged. Just go ask the mayor, the members of the City Council and various boards that serve the city. Each has provided countless unpaid hours in an effort to be responsive to the needs of the community and is has worked! Welcome to Sandy Springs.

Heards Ferry Elementary has demonstrated over the decades that it has provided the community with a very successful neighborhood elementary school experience for the students and families it has served. Are elements of the campus and facilities, dated and in need of repair? Absolutely. Does this mean that the campus needs to be closed and relocated? That argument has not been successfully presented to date.

What is clearly established is that Heards Ferry Elementary has become a very integral part of the community and what community would ever consider eliminating an institution that provides such a positive experience so critical in the educational process? There are communities everywhere yearning for such an institution.

What is clear is that the problem centers at the high school level and the solution should come at the high school level.

This community understands that we are all a part of a wonderful mosaic that is called Sandy Springs and recognize the valuable contribution by the school system to the beauty of this mosaic. We would never do anything to compromise the ability of skilled and talented professionals such as yourself and your associates to provide as you have done in the past. Please understand though that you are only one element of the mosaic and respect the other pieces that have come together to provide you and others with a tremendous foundation upon which to build.

There are times when this community can drive one nuts with their ideas and involvement, but I consider that to be a wonderful situation that, properly directed, can result in a most positive result.

One can either take advantage of this situation, or decide to charge ahead without consensus. If you really want to see the results, ask the mayor to show you how pigs fly. Welcome to Sandy Springs.

If I can assist you in any way either as a citizen or in my capacity on the Sandy Springs Planning Commission, please do not hesitate to call, and I will try to provide, as I have, for other members of this community.

I encourage you and your colleagues to become an active member of the community and integrate yourselves into an active process to find solutions that appropriately blend the needs and concerns of all parties. Welcome to Sandy Springs!

Lee C. Duncan