Sandtown Middle - Connectivity and Parking
"The rest of the story"
Some of you may not know that long before
Sandtown Middle School was built there were
calls from the community for a second access road to the school. Our initial
requests for a second entrance took place over several years ago before the
first brick was laid. Community advocates, local school board members, Fulton
commissioners, parks department staff, school system staff and past
superintendents spent countless hours and meetings planning how and where to
provide a second entrance. The final solution was a road connecting Sandtown
MS to Sandtown Park next door and ultimately Randolph Elementary. The fire
chief and the police department acknowledged the importance of this
life/safety project. Before Sandtown was even completed newer school
specifications called for a second entrance.
intent was to provide an alternate entrance for emergency access, emergency
evacuation and provide a logical road network connecting the schools and the
park, which also addressed school related traffic congestion on
Campbellton Road. Now
that we have recently lost nearly one fourth of the 200 parking spaces
Sandtown had to trailers, this connectivity road makes even more sense by
providing access to the over 200 parking spaces in the park. With the
trailers school officials acknowledge the school should have 77 more spaces
than there are currently.
project was moving forward steadily this year with the creation of detailed
engineering design and memorandum of understanding between the school board
and the county in February ‘05. (road
design drawing) The road would connect to the park by the school’s
tennis courts to the park road – complete with sidewalks for students to walk
to the park and recreation center without having to cut through the woods.
discussions started regarding funding, then
Board Vice President Gail Dean began stalling
tactics and creating obstacles to the project. (Believe it or not part of
Gail’s district is in South County!). Gail asked operations staff for a host
of requests including things like a survey of how many schools had multiple
entrances. After she received everything she’d asked for, the effort withered
away as new priorities were developed and a new School Superintendent was
When I asked her about the project in August,
Gail - now the Board
President moaned about connectivity needs in Sandy Springs as though the needs
were mutually exclusive. In other words since
they did not get
their roads, she said as a matter
of fact our project is dead.
there were shortcomings in the design of Alpharetta HS for band rooms,
acoustics, entrances and sidewalks the board could find $353,000 in
June to remediate
design flaws and errors of omission. But when we ask the board for years
about life safety and reasonable accommodations for access to the school,
there’s no money and it is not a priority.
Wouldn’t it be nice to
have an alternate exit at Sandtown MS instead of sitting in bumper to bumper
traffic daily and at evening school activities?
Wouldn’t it be nice to
have parking for more than 10% of the parents?
Imagine being able to
drive from Randolph ES to Sandtown MS without getting back on
The irony is GDOT was
going to permit a traffic light at the school entrance on Campbellton
because of the connectivity road. Now that the road project was killed they
cannot justify a traffic light. So parents and school buses have to play
chicken turning onto a State road with prevailing speeds of 50-mph+.
Public Works is
spending nearly $350,000 to add a left turn lane into Randolph ES next door
to ease the logjam in the morning. We hope they will break ground in the
T215 Campbellton Road at Randolph Elementary School.
The county parks
department has given the right of way to build the SMS connectivity road on
The county practically
gave away the land the school was built on to the school board.
In spite of all the
financial support from
Fulton County, thus far Fulton Schools have
not spent one nickel to remedy the safety and congestion issues related to
their two schools on Campbellton Road.
sad particularly in light of the delays and inequities in building schools in
South County the board won’t even throw us a bone on this life/safety issue.
The school board gets away with apathy about our needs
because we let them.
Dean, the school board and the superintendent know that we insist that the
project be resurrected. Come to the Pre-board and Board Meetings today and
Thursday – there are opportunities before and after the meeting and at break
times to raise this and other issues one-on-one with them.
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