Maria’s Metro

Castleberry Hill opposes ‘park-for-hire’ surface parking lots around stadium

Nothing sucks the life out of a community more than surface parking lots.

So it’s no surprise that the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association recently voted unanimously against a proposal by the Parc Vue Condo Development II, LLC, managed by Herman J. Russell, Sr., to change the zoning laws to permit “park-for-hire” surface parking lots on a wide swath of property near the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

The Russell organization has proposed to remove “park-for-hire” lots as a prohibited use from the area that covers the better part of 10 blocks south of the new stadium between Northside Drive and Castleberry Hill.
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A welcome to Adair Park – an Atlanta neighborhood that’s a historic gem

Adair Park – a historic community southwest of downtown – has now become an integral part of my family.

My son, David Luse, just bought a house (closing was on July 25) in Adair Park – another marker in his path to adulthood and self-sufficiency. The move also has opened a whole new vista into a corner of Atlanta that is becoming one of the hottest up-and-coming communities in the city.

Adair Park – a neighborhood that is tucked away between Metropolitan Parkway to the east, University Avenue to the south and the Norfolk Southern tracks to the west (beyond which lies the historic West End) – has become our own little gem.
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If you were at Bergen Belsen with my mother, I would love to talk with you

WANTED: The lost voicemail from the man who was in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp with my mother during World War II.

A few months ago, I was in my car listening to my work phone voicemails. A man said he was visiting relatives in Atlanta (I believe he said he was staying with his son and his son’s family). His message said he had been in the German concentration camp with my mother. He also told me he had some of the trademark sketches that my father had drawn for him. If I wanted those sketches, I should call him, and he left me his number.

Unfortunately, somehow, that voicemail got deleted or lost. When I went to transcribe my voicemails, that message was not there.
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Remembering the wisdom of Harry West – let’s fix what’s not working

During last week’s memorial service in honor of Harry West, my mind kept wandering back to another time when he was executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission.

It was 1998, and the Atlanta business community – through its Metro Atlanta Transportation Initiative – was recommending a new state agency to help come up with ways to solve the region’s congestion and transportation problems.

West was that lone voice crying in the wilderness. Let’s not create yet another agency. Let’s fix the ones we have.
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Commuter rail from Atlanta to Lovejoy is: ‘The Little Engine That Could’

A commuter rail line between Atlanta and Lovejoy should adopt the tagline:

“I think we can; I think we can; I think we can.”

And yes, we really can.

Forget all the panic from the Federal Transit Administration’s letter to the Georgia Department of Transportation on July 7 saying it was “deobligating” about $45 million in federal funds that had been earmarked for the commuter rail project by the U.S. Congress for more than a decade.
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Clayton’s yes vote for MARTA sales tax ‘a turning point’ for regional transit

The year 2014 easily may be the year that MARTA and transit gains significant new ground in metro Atlanta.

The first solid indication that the times, they are a changing came Saturday morning when the Clayton County Commission, at specially-called meeting, voted 3-to-1 to place a full-penny MARTA tax on the Nov. 4 ballot.
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Pierre Howard to keep fighting for environment after Ga. Conservancy

In early 2009, former Georgia Lt. Governor Pierre Howard was not convinced he wanted to make a five-year commitment to the Georgia Conservancy as its president and CEO.

So he took his name out of the hat until his close friend – attorney Clay Long – convinced him that as president, he would have “the latitude to do what was right thing for the environment” – free of undue pressure from the board or major donors.

But the person who probably had the most to do with Howard ultimately taking the job was the late Jamie MacKay, a Georgia statesman and political leader.
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Center for Civil and Human Rights dawning of a new day for Atlanta

“Atlanta, it’s time to wake up.”

So began my column in the July 19, 2004 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I serendipitously ran across that column – “Civil Rights museum a natural for Atlanta” – a few months ago. Upon reading the column nearly a decade later, I was pleasantly amazed at the challenge I had thrown out to Atlanta and how the Atlanta community ultimately responded to that challenge.

So here we are as the Atlanta unveils its newest destination to the world — the Center of Civil and Human Rights — holding its Grand Opening Celebration on June 23.
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A transit tale of two counties – Clayton looks to MARTA; Cobb looks away

Decisions, decisions.

While Clayton County weighs the all-important step of whether to place a MARTA tax on the ballot in November, Cobb County commissioners seem to be back-pedaling on any plans to implement more transit access from the county to the rest of the region.

The Clayton County Commission is scheduled to vote on July 1 on whether to ask voters in November to approve a referendum for either a one percent or a half percent sales tax to join MARTA.

In Cobb County, leaders appear to have given up any possibility of connecting the northwest county and the existing MARTA system with a light rail line.
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Atlanta region can brag about having 16 Fortune 500 company headquarters

It’s getting to a point where Atlanta will no longer have to exaggerate its role as a home for Fortune 500 companies.

For years, Atlanta has been inaccurately claiming that it has the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters among cities in the country. A story I wrote back in 2011 explains how this misleading statement became one of our selling points.

While Atlanta may not be able to have those bragging rights for years (if ever), it is steadily adding to its total number of Fortune 500 headquarters.
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