Guest Columns

Guest Columns

Atlanta’s small towns being redefined through principles of new urbanism

By Guest Columnist THOMAS WALSH, ASLA, a founding principal of Atlanta-based TSW, a planning, architecture and landscape architecture firm

For decades, Atlanta has been defined by its sprawl – and perhaps no communities have felt the effects of the often unchecked growth more than the small towns surrounding our city.

The tidal wave of suburban development, and the construction of major thoroughfares that bypassed the small towns, sounded a death knell for once-bustling town centers.
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A MARTA story: Why the state never contributed funding – from day one

By Guest Columnist W. STELL HUIE, a retired Atlanta attorney who served as MARTA’s first general counsel

Background information for readers: MARTA was formed by an act of the Georgia General Assembly in 1965 and was originally proposed as a rapid transit agency for the Atlanta metropolitan area – DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett, and Cobb counties.  That year, Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and the City of Atlanta passed a referendum authorizing participation in the system. The referendum failed in Cobb.

It was November, 1970. Huie and Harland was serving as general counsel to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and I was the responsible partner. We had just reached a very delicate local compromise on how to finance the MARTA transit system.
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As Atlanta’s economy rebounds, let’s be sure to include lower income areas

Guest Columnist BRUCE GUNTER, president of Progressive Redevelopment Inc., an affordable housing developer that has been divesting itself of its assets

Atlanta is getting its mojo back….and at an accelerating pace. Cranes are returning to our skyline, a welcome sign of a rejuvenating real estate sector, with new office construction joining the multifamily housing that was first out of the gate.

This is unadulterated good news for the region, but a quick look reveals a very selective recovery. Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter, Cumberland (thank you, Braves) and the 400 corridor are fast heating up, but—not surprisingly—long neglected sectors remain overlooked.
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City of Atlanta must carefully weigh its future transit and streetcar options

By Guest Columnist HEATHER ALHADEFF, president of Center Forward, a land-use and transportation consulting business

The reaction to Maria Saporta’s recent streetcar/BeltLine articles produced an unusually hot-tempered string of comments.  From my perspective as a transportation planner, what seems to be muddying the waters of this debate is a natural misunderstanding of the long-term, multipurpose benefits of a variety of transit routes.

Commenters tended to lump all trip purposes and transportation technologies together.  A more nuanced understanding could help the dialogue become more productive.
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City of Atlanta must carefully weigh its future transit options

By Guest Columnist HEATHER ALHADEFF, president of Center Forward, a land-use and transportation consulting business

The reaction to Maria Saporta’s recent streetcar/BeltLine articles produced an unusually hot-tempered string of comments.  From my perspective as a transportation planner, what seems to be muddying the waters of this debate is a natural misunderstanding of the long-term, multipurpose benefits of various transit routes.

This includes a common propensity to lump all trip purposes and transportation technologies together.
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What we teach is the foundation of Georgia’s education reform puzzle

By Guest Columnist DANA RICKMAN, director of policy and research for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Nearing the end of the 2014 legislative session, Georgia’s House Education Committee voted down Senate Bill (SB) 167, the anti-Common Core bill, essentially killing it.

Had it passed, it would have prevented the state from its continued participation in the Common Core State Standards, known in Georgia as the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS).  Why does this matter?  To answer that question, one must have an understanding of the educational reform landscape that has shaped Georgia.
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Offering quality childcare saves taxes and helps poor reach middle class

By Guest Columnist PAM TATUM, executive director of Quality Care for Children

Upward mobility is not as elusive as it is sometimes presented. In fact it is no more elusive than good public policy and wise investments.

As Maria Saporta pointed out in her February article “City of Atlanta’s income divide of rich and poor – it didn’t have to be this way,” Atlanta leaders recognized that a strong middle class was in the city’s interest decades ago and actually had a pretty good plan for making it happen. Unfortunately, no one implemented the plan – or even parts of it.

What struck me most about the Atlanta Renaissance Plan was the proposed initiative to provide more assistance to help single moms find work and get ahead. Single moms are often misunderstood and, at times, even demonized in our society.
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Atlanta’s income gap problem rooted in poverty, not in a lack of middle-class

By Guest Columnist MIKE DOBBINS, a Georgia Tech professor of architecture and planning who also served as the city of Atlanta’s commissioner of planning, development and neighborhood conservation from 1996 to 2002

In a recent column, Maria Saporta attributed Atlanta’s worst-in-class rankings for income disparity and social immobility to the post-Olympic period, which she characterized as one of “Atlanta’s Greatest Missed Opportunities.”

While I hesitate to challenge Maria’s wisdom, I must disagree with her conclusions both about why Atlanta has such income disparity and social immobility and with her characterization of the post-Olympic period as a missed opportunity.

Taking the latter first, she references the Renaissance Policy Board, which was convened by Mayor Bill Campbell and chaired by Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta to plan out Atlanta’s post-Olympic priorities and strategies.
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Stevie Wonder provides a ‘Candle in the Dark’ at Morehouse College Gala

By Guest Columnist RODNEY STRONG, chairman of Griffin & Strong, a law and public policy consulting firm who graduated from Morehouse College in 1976 with an undergraduate degree in political science

A confluence of events made the year’s A Candle in the Dark Gala and Inaugural Ball – an annual festive black-tie event that raises substantial funds for Morehouse College ­­– particularly memorable.

The 26th annual Gala took place on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 to celebrate the 147th anniversary of the founding of Morehouse College in the Centennial Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. During the weekend’s activities, Dr. John S. Wilson Jr. was inaugurated as the 11th president of the College.
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Good Growth DeKalb seeks plans with long-term vision instead of a Walmart

By Guest Columnist BRIAN BARTH, co-founder and head environmental consultant of Urban Agriculture, Inc., an Atlanta-based design firm

Just north of downtown Decatur, a two-year long campaign to prevent metro Atlanta’s next Walmart-anchored development from breaking ground hangs in legal limbo. 

While local residents wait for a ruling on whether the developer, Selig Enterprises, circumvented some of the fine print in DeKalb County’s permit approval process, there has been ample time to reflect on what may better serve the neighborhood.
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