Over the years, Druid Hills has seen its share of issues that divided the community with little hope for consensus. Therefore it is always a delight and a relief to witness a resolution that pleases all sides. That certainly was the case on February 19, when a crowd of about 125 attended a meeting where the DeKalb County School District presented a revised site plan for the new Fernbank School.
The new plan responded to the concerns of a group of neighbors who had proposed re-siting the building and objected strenuously to plans calling for an above-ground retention pond.
At Wednesday’s meeting, parents and neighbors learned of the following changes:
- Improve the building line of sight from Heaton Park Drive by moving the school 6 feet closer to the street and increasing the elevation by 2 feet,
- Install an underground storm detention system, thus expanding play space by at least 2 acres,
- Construct new sloped earthen banks instead of retaining walls, with only one new retaining wall with a railing located at the bus entrance drive,
- Maintain a 100-foot wide tree buffer along Artwood Drive and plant 25 new trees along the bus loop,
- Reduce proposed parking spaces to 117 from 163.
Modification of the plan will not delay the August 2015 reopening of the school. The power point presentation below contains more details.
“I am pleased that the DeKalb County School District has chosen an innovative modification of their original plan. This responsiveness to the concerns expressed by parent and community groups is very encouraging. Now, let’s get the school built and the children back into the heart of their community as quickly as possible,” Druid Hills Civic Association President Justin Critz stated.
According to Sydney Cleland and Bill Hughes, who led opposition to the District’s original plan, the new design is a “fair compromise recognizing the needs and desires of all stakeholders.
“This is a school that parents, students, teachers, and neighbors can love for the next 60 years,” said Hughes.
PTA co-chair Allyson Reeves wrote in an email, “I think they [DCSD] did a very good job of incorporating as many suggestions from the community as they could.”