Saturday, April 13, 2019

New bridge connects Medlock Park to Scott Circle greenspace

Scott Circle Lots master plan
Sometimes it seems like nothing's happening but persistence pays off. In particular when you have good folks who keep on keeping on!

Back in 2014, we started hearing about the County's plan to purchase floodplain properties on Scott Circle, with the lots to be converted to greenspace. In 2015, several houses were demolished and the greenspace started taking shape. With community input and support from Druid Hills Youth Sports and the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association (MANA), a vision for this greenspace was agreed upon. In subsequent years, dozens of trees were planted and in 2017-2018, a Park Pride grant came through to build the first of two bridges that will connect Medlock Park to the Scott Circle lots.
Ta-da! The new bridge.

This week, that first bridge was installed and volunteers gathered on April 13 to begin mulching the first of a series of paths that will make the space more accessible. Our thanks to Ted Ward, MANA Greenspace chair, who has been leading this effort for the last several years. Also thanks to Dave Butler who has been instrumental in this and so many other greenspace projects in our neighborhood (Scott lots, community garden, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve).

Thanks to all the volunteers who turned up today to chop and haul privet and spread mulch at the new bridge. Soon, additional truckloads of mulch will be delivered so that this first path (that wends its way along the back of the properties) will connect to the park entrance.

Later phases will add a path along the street (since there is no sidewalk) to make it safer for pedestrians to walk along this section of the street.
Two strong men and one smart man clear the area near the park-side
ramp to the new bridge. [Just kidding, it took the three of them to move that downed tree!]

Too far to jump: this creek tributary collects a lot of runoff from nearby areas.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

MANA Membership Renewal

Why MANA Matters
We’re celebrating our 15th birthday! The Medlock Area Neighborhood Association's (MANA) membership runs from January through December of each year. If you’ve not paid in the last several months, please renew your MANA membership or join before April 1. You can go to for details, including a link to PayPal at Our dues are only $25 per household. 

If you need to know why MANA matters, please read a bit about our history in the neighborhood.

MANA was incorporated in January 2004. According to the first issue of Medlock Matters, our newsletter, the organization “began with interest in community issues, such as traffic calming measures, signage ordinance for nearby businesses, and neighborhood involvement at Medlock Elementary School.” (An informal core group had actually formed in 2002 to oppose the erection of what was considered an intrusive sign on what is now the Subaru dealership that would decrease the quality of life and home values.) And there was an early initiative to get speed bumps on Medlock Road.
For less than 7 cents/day, 
your annual dues say 
"Thank you, MANA!" 365 times!

MANA has essentially continued to fight those same issues with varying degrees of involvement. In addition, it provides ways for neighbors to get to know each other.

MANA Highlights 

For those who are new to the neighborhood here are some highlights of our history; for old-timers, this list is a reminder of some of the activities of MANA volunteers led in the last few years:
  • Supported the Medlock Floodplain Coalition in working to protect the lands around the South Fork of Peachtree Creek, which runs through the park and significant portions of the neighborhorhood 
  • Upon the closure of Medlock Elementary School (now ICS), participated in successful opposition to the proposal to install a cell phone tower on that property. 
  • Created a Neighborhood Watch, which evolved into the independent Medlock Paid Patrol, LLC.
  • Created and conducted a door-to-door survey of neighborhood preferences about remaining in unincorporated DeKalb County; as a result, we fought against new cities, as well as attempts by the city of Decatur to annex adjacent businesses and their revenue without taken a relevant number of residents. MANA officers continue to monitor developments in these areas by attending various governmental meetings. 
  • MANA volunteers played a leadership role in the formation and work of the DeKalb Cross-Neighbors Council, which interacts with developers to provide feedback on proposed plans and negotiate quality-of-life concessions for the community. With the virtual explosion of new developments in the area the involvement of dedicated MANA members has intensified. 
  • MANA maintains contact with our elected leaders and County officials so they don’t forget our concerns and needs. For example, we monitored and attended meetings to pressure the County and contractors to complete the long-delayed splash pad at Medlock Pool. These folks know Medlock and that MANA will speak up for our neighborhood. 
  • Volunteers organize an annual summer pool party and in conjunction with the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve, a fall Haunted Trail event. 
  • Volunteers also dress up all intersections with wreaths or bows each year.
    Best holiday wishes to all!
    Seasonal sheep accent courtesy of 
    the Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve.
  • To promote safety, volunteers conduct neighborhood roadside and sign clean-ups. We hope you agree that this partial list is quite impressive. However, we need your support to continue working to preserve the quality of life and integrity of our neighborhood.
Our major expenses include the printing and delivery of the our Medlock Matters newsletter, published three times a year, and liability insurance to protect our board as we work with developers, plus miscellaneous expenses, like an honorarium to North Decatur Presbyterian Church for use of their space.

Please join or renew! $25 is a very reasonable amount to support MANA's many ways of engagement, all to the benefit of our community.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Community Meeting notes (2/25/2019)

Swag for your porch! Thanks to Rebecca Huynh Thongkham
for adapting her winning MANA logo design.
Brief notes from tonight's meeting:

Unveiled, and available for pre-order soon.... the MANA banner!  We still have pillows available... Paypal purchase options coming soon.

Medlock Neighborhood Patrol: membership is on a revolving basis (renewable once/year from the date when you first sign up). Leslie gave us some examples of how having a patrol presence has helped address concerns very quickly.

ICS will hold a lantern parade again this year on Friday March 1, 6-7:30pm. They start at the Medlock Park pavillion, proceed on to Gaylemont, Desmond, Scott and back to the park. They are looking for volunteers. If you can assist, email

Fernbank PTA representatives gave lots of great information about what to expect following our redistricting to Laurel Ridge. They emphasized visiting the Fernbank PTA (Foundation) website (this is a separate, complementary website to the school district website at
- there will be a new family open house on March 13
- parent tours are available monthly
- clubs
Sample of club offerings at
Fernbank Elementary. Click to enlarge.
- play date for new families on May 4 (3-5pm)
- Fernbank's annual PTA fundraiser is on March 15 (Trolley Bar at Inman Park)
- Summer camps will be available for students newly redistricted to Fernbank (as well as all students in the cluster). They will cover they whole month of June, $125 per child per week, 8am -5pm. Registration deadline is in April.
- They have a music teacher (chorus for 4th graders, band for 5th graders; strings taught in middle school).
- art program for all students
- carpool is very efficient
- Parents with questions should contact the front office.
- pre-K lottery on March 13
Also see our previous post on redistricting here.

School facts, pg. 2.
The Fernbank PTA members also shared these documents:

School facts. Click to enlarge.
Theresa took a moment to celebrate and appreciate Larry Diehl's long commitment to service through his participation in the DeKalb Planning's Community Council. Larry is stepping down after many many years representing our area. The Community Council meets 6 times/year and reviews proposals pertaining to District 2 (special land use and zoning). The Commissioners consider recommendations from their staff and the Community Council as they deliberate proposals brought to the County for consideration. If you might be interested in serving in this committee, please contact for more information.

Theresa gave a zoning update that pretty much followed her report on our latest newsletter (pdf). Please see her article as well as a Q&A with Commissioner Rader that focused on the withdrawal of plans for North DeKalb Mall's redevelopment.

The need for a left-turn signal at the Medlock intersection was brought up.  Given this intersection is controlled by GDOT, we discussed that it may be time to bring our concerns to our state representatives. Also, we should soon see some improvements to signals and crosswalks for the intersection.

Jonah McDonald, the new park naturalist for Medlock Park, Mason Mill Park, Ira B. Melton Park and the South Peachtree Creek PATH, greeted the audience and explained he has been directed to:
1) to coordinate volunteer efforts at these parks
2) develop programs for the public (such as nature and history hikes, he's also a story teller)
3) be a presence in the parks and coordinate maintenance and safety concerns/requests.
Jonah's office is at the Senior Center at Mason Mill Park but he's at the trails regularly.
We had featured Jonah's book (Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests) a few years back as it included hikes as it referenced our neighborhood's Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and the South Peachtree Creek PATH.
Jonah's in the process of setting up a Facebook page and already can be followed on Instagram and Twitter.

Ed Fowler reminded us of "CAKE with a Cop" at City BBQ. They are apparently serving chocolate cake instead of coffee! This is on Wednesday Feb 27.

The last order of business was an uncontested (re)election of MANA president (Lynn Ganim), vice-president (Sharon Johnson), Secretary (Ted Ward, new role, although he remains as our greenspace coordinator too) and Treasurer (Charlie Charoenlap). Thank you for your service, folks!
Thanks to all who attended!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Support Needed: DeKalb Co. Ethics Board

Many of us remember that voters approved the establishment of a much-needed DeKalb County ethics board a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, because of the way its members were selected, its existence was challenged and undone in court. (For a brief history and update see

There is action in the legislature this year to undo that damage and create a new ethics board whose members must come more directly from the voters or their representatives than the earlier version. This action should resolve the problems the court found and create a strong, objective, and independent ethics watchdog group. But there is also the predictable opposition.This issue is important for the future of the county and the integrity of OUR government. The MANA Board urges you to contact the following members of the DeKalb County delegation to the Georgia House of Representatives as soon as possible to let them know how you feel.

Previous MANA posts pertaining to ethics reform in DeKalb can be accessed through this link.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Medlock neighborhood redistricted to Fernbank Elementary

The Dekalb County School District has finalized its attendance zone review and on February 4, 2019 approved the redistricting of Medlock children from Laurel Ridge Elementary to Fernbank Elementary. Attendance to Druid Hills Middle and High Schools remains unchanged. Fernbank Elementary is authorized to teach the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme and is located in the Druid Hills neighborhood.

New Fernbank Elementary attandance map (in green), approved Feb 4, 2019.
Medlock Area Neiborhood Association homes are outlined in bright pink.
Please refer to full-size map at Click to enlarge
This announcement is not unexpected (multiple meetings are documented in the DCSD website, with the final approval available here). The news is still bittersweet for many. As is the case for most neighborhoods, our elementary schools have served as community engagement cores as parents partner with local teachers and administrators in the care and education of the little ones. When Medlock Elementary closed in the spring of 2011, that focus primarily turned to Laurel Ridge Elementary (and later, also to the International Community School, a DeKalb K-5 charter school that relocated to the old Medlock Elementary site). Laurel Ridge welcomed Medlock's kids and parents with open arms and, with an influx of young families moving to our neighborhood, grew by leaps and bounds in recent years.

Laurel Ridge is now beyond capacity, and, as an older school, the physical plant is in need of upgrades. Enter Fernbank Elementary, whose prior buildings (circa 1957) were replaced by a new, larger facility that opened in 2015. Since reopening at 157 Heaton Park Drive, Fernbank has also welcomed school children from the Cross Keys attendance zone while a new facility for the John R. Lewis Elementary was built. As the new John R. Lewis school opens in Fall 2019,  Cross Keys children will leave Fernbank, passing the baton to our Medlock kids (as well as others, please see the new attendance map here). Elementary is helping the transition as follows:
"If you are a parent who is being redistricted into Fernbank's attendance zone, we are excited your family will be joining us! We are planning some things for you:
  • One evening in March, we will host an open house for parents and students alike. This date and more details will be announced soon! 
  • On Saturday, May 4th, at 3pm, we will be holding a "family play date" on our playground and back field. This will be an opportunity for our existing Fernbank families to welcome, mix and mingle with our new ones before school lets out. 
  • For all new families who will be joining Fernbank in the fall, we will be extending an invite (and accepting new members) to join our Fernbank Parent Facebook group once the cluster redistricting is finalized."
Additionally, campus tours are available as outlined in its Future Students page at Please visit Fernbank's website for information on the Pre-K lottery. Also note that Fernbank is inviting new and transfer students to participate in their summer camp

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

North DeKalb Mall on hold: rezoning application withdrawn

The Dekalb Cross Neighborhoods Council has been notified that Sterling Enterprises is withdrawing their rezoning application for the proposed redevelopment of North Dekalb Mall. Their lawyer, Kathryn Zickert, informed us that the project has become too expensive to proceed. At this point the owner/developer has not shared their future plans for the property. We will share more information as it becomes available.

Update 2 (12/13/18): Tomorrow's News Today adds to the discussion, suggests that forward movement was probably impeded by merchants existing leases, and that Costco remains interested.
Update 1: Decaturish covered the announcement.

Monday, November 19, 2018

School redistricting may impact Medlock

A series of meetings have taken place as the DeKalb County School System (DCSS) considers redistricting options for some elementary schools in the Druid Hills cluster. Decaturish summarizes the landscape leading to that decision here.

Medlock's attendance pattern to elementary school will likely change as a result.

MANA has sent the below letter to DCSS, outlining support for an option that "maximizes elementary school seats in the cluster and keeps the Medlock area together."

Click to enlarge. 
1The Medlock Area Neighborhood Association includes residents within a boundary approximately defined as the following: North: North Druid Hills Road at Willivee Drive and North Druid Hills Road at North Hills Drive; South: North Decatur Road; East: Willivee Drive (both sides) between North Decatur Road & North Druid Hills Road; West: North Hills Drive, Pine Bluff Drive, Harrington Drive & Scott Blvd, Lawrenceville Highway, excluding Tuxworth Springs Condominium .
DCSS's website notes that there is a one remaining public information meeting on November 28, and feedback can also be delivered via survey.
Meeting 3: The third meeting presents one “Staff Recommended ” op on and gives the public one more opportunity to provide feedback. The proposed dates for the third meeting of each process are:
  • John Lewis Redistricting: Tuesday, November 27 , 2018 @ Cross Keys HS, 7 PM
  • Druid Hills Redistricting: Wednesday, November 28 , 2018 @ Druid Hills MS, 7 PM
  • Online Survey: November 27 – December 6, 2018 (midnight)
Board Approval: After the third public meeting , Planning department staff will incorporate all public feedback into a “Superintendent‐Recommended Redistricting Plan ”.
  • First Read: January 7th, 2019 Board meeting
  • Board Approval: February 4th, 2019 Board meeting.