Sandtown Community Association


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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.

     Our 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.

     The 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.

     As 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 hired. 

    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.

     When 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 Campbellton Road.
  1. 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+.
  2. Fulton County 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 spring.  T215 Campbellton Road at Randolph Elementary School.
  3. The county parks department has given the right of way to build the SMS connectivity road on Park Land. 
  4. The county practically gave away the land the school was built on to the school board.
  5. 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.

     It is 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. Let Gail 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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