Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Other neighborhood updates

Tim @ Clairmont Heights has a couple great updates (with pictures!) on

Ira B. Melton Park

PATH / South Peachtree Creek bridge

We are very fortunate to live in neighborhoods with so many trails, paths, and opportunities to enjoy nature. And we are doubly fortunate to have wonderful people who make it their mission to make these spaces accessible to others.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Medlock Pool: Open May 28 - August 5

Although the Dekalb Co. website says that...
The DeKalb County swim season begins on the Saturday before Memorial Day (May) and ends at select pools the Saturday before Labor Day (September).
Commissioner Jeff Rader shared (via the MANA Facebook page) that the pool is open as follows:

Medlock Pool Hours 
May 28 - August 5th
Mon-Sat 12-6pm, Sun 1-6 pm 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cell Tower Update: It's Showtime

Dekalb County School System has posted the full scope of their cell tower plan, see http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/news-and-info/cell-phone-towers

For Medlock Elementary, you will see they list two potential sites. MANA contacted Mr. Steve Donahue at Plant Managemnet (DCSS), who said the original proposal included 2 suggested sites but they are considering one only. Communications between the MANA zoning chair Teresa Same and a T-Mobile representative reveal that the the actual location of the tower has not been decided upon, and may not be limited to the 2 sites listed. Also, that T-Mobile will be pursuing this location regardless of how neighbors may feel about it. But remember: T-Mobile can't do anything without the DCSS Board's buy-in and blessing.

DCSS has posted its board meeting schedule at http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board-of-education/meetings-and-minutest, but gives no clues as to whether the cell tower issue is on their next meeting agenda.  This week, Mr. McChesney (DCSS Board member) responded to MANA inquiries with the following information:
  • that the meeting agenda is determined by the chair, vice chair and superintendent
  • that he does not yet know what the agenda is
  • that people should email the Board of Education "to let their feelings be known."
Sounds like an...
! ! ! ACTION ALERT ! ! !
Not what William Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote
"O for a horse with wings!"
Call or email the DCSS Board and Interim Superintendent Tyson and let them know how you feel about cell towers in school yards, Medlock Elementary in particular
Ask that they

  1. post the meeting agenda (or at least indicate when cell tower decisions will be discussed), and 
  2. remove Medlock Elementary from their potential site list, or at the very least stop considering Medlock until the county's 10-year plan is revealed in August.
Please use your own words and arguments. A brief and sincere note in your own voice is better than a form letter.

Detailed contact information appears below. Here's their emails for cut/paste convenience...

 CELL TOWER DECIDERS: DCSS Board (left) and Interim Superintendent (right)
Wonder if THEY have cell towers in their backyards and at their children's schools?
Ramona Tyson
Interim Superintendent

Thomas E. Bowen
Chair; District 6

H. Paul Womack Jr
Vice Chair; District 4

Sarah Copelin-Wood
Board Member

Jesse Jay Cunningham Jr.
Board Member; District 5

Donna G Edler
Board Member

Nancy T. Jester
Board Member; District 1

Donald E. McChesney
Board Member; District 2

Pamela A. Speaks
Board Member; District 8

Eugene P. Walker
Board Member

REUNITED: Lost dog now Found: Medlock area

May 31 update: Harley the Italian greyound was found in the neighborhood, and has been reunited with his family :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Medlock Elementary celebrated in letter to the editor

A Medlock parent's thoughts as the academic year winds down and the school closes...
I thought about what those students had become. Doctors? Engineers? Scientists? Police officers? Politicians? Teachers? Authors? Most of them might have no idea that the very same school–which gave them their early education and provided their first introduction to letters, words, numbers, colors, lines, drawing–has now vanished forever.
Read the whole thing at http://northdruidhills.patch.com/articles/sixty-years-of-golden-memories-at-medlock-elementary

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MANA Watch May 16 Meeting Recap

from the MANA Board...

On Monday night, a group of approximately 75 people met with the MANA Watch committee chairs to discuss issues of public safety and how to prevent crime. Major Lionel Higdon, Precinct Chief of DeKalb County, came to speak to our group. He was very impressed by the number of attendees and congratulated us on our organization and volunteerism. A primary topic that started the evening was DASH restaurant on Lawrenceville Highway.
Many neighbors have complained about it to the police because of late night loud noise and suspicious behavior around the site.

Major Higdon assured us he is aware of the problems there and that they have been cited for violations. Members of the MANA board are following the actions of the restaurant closely to see how the citations are resolved and if they are in compliance with zoning laws. We will continue our efforts to inform the county and MANA members of what we learn and actions we will take on the neighborhood’s behalf.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

DeKalb Co. School Board: Can you hear me now?

The following recap/editorial of the May 11 meeting is not an official statement from the MANA board. It was volunteered by a long-time neighbor and MANA member.

Representatives from T-Mobile; DeKalb Co. Board of Education member Donald McChesney (District 2 representative, which covers Medlock Elementary); and Steve Donahue (Executive Director of Plant Services, Dekalb Co. County Schools) were at hand on Wednesday evening to hear what the MANA community had to say about the proposed construction of a cell phone tower at Medlock Elementary.  Close to 70 neighbors attended.

It was probably inevitable that community frustrations at the school closing would surface during the meeting. Audience members obviously wanted to convey (1) great dissatisfaction with how our elected officials (specifically, DeKalb Co., and the DeKalb Co. School System Board) are failing to communicate with one another, and (2) that our community feels willfully ignored as far as being consulted or even informed of decisions that affect our neighborhood. The MANA zoning committee chair, Theresa Same, made this point clearly when she reminded Mr. McChesney that news of these cell tower proposals came to us “through the grapevine” and not directly, even though MANA has actively sought involvement since its inception, and most certainly as soon as Medlock Elementary closing rumos surfaced. For example, MANA has spent the last several months fruitlessly trying to extract land use guidelines from the School Board, to better evaluate potential use for the property (as we have been asked to do) and solicit proposals that would avoid an abandoned building scenario.

Audience members clarified there is no specific animosity towards T-Mobile (or any other cell phone provider for that matter). There is, however, great confusion about the timing of this proposal’s announcement and consideration. To wit: the school board will not unveil its 10-year plan until August. There are rumors of an ATT and T-Mobile merger, which could negate a need for T-Mobile towers in this area. And, as stated by a T-Mobile representative, the DeKalb Co. School system is the only system in DeKalb Co. that will consider placing cell phone towers in its land (question marks and exclamation points bloomed above audience member heads at that statement…).  With so many variables in flux, the only reasonable answer our community can issue to this proposal is a resounding NO.

There were many highlights to the meeting, not the least being the obvious community pride and refusal to accept the format the County attempted to impose. As the meeting began, we were informed that we should spend 20 minutes reviewing the information stations in the back of the room. When the MANA audience refused, we were told this was not a democracy (let’s say that did not go over too well). Audience members asked for a compromise of taking 5 minutes to view the displays (since most had viewed them before the meeting began), and requested to have the T-Mobile reps come to the front of the room to either present information or answer questions.  

T-Mobile reps; Medlock Mustang wants answers.
Now, with an audience-driven format, the questions poured forth.

No, the speakers could not comment on what kind of revenue the DeKalb Co. School System would derive from the placement of these cell towers at any of the 12 schools being considered. This is all in the negotiation phase. [N.B. On May 10, the AJC ran an article reporting that:
In Cobb County, more than 20 schools have towers, with each bringing in $150,000 every five years. Sixty percent goes to the school and the remainder going into a fund for schools without towers. The contracts are 15-year deals. But the school board in February voted to table indefinitely the construction of a T-Mobile cell tower at Compton Elementary after opposition from nearby homeowners.
T-Mobile has presented DeKalb with several different lease options, which, over time, could generate from about $450,000 to $1 million per site, depending on the length and structure of the contract. The school's Parent Teacher Association could get a one-time payment of $25,000. 
The district has not decided how the money would be used or distributed. The board has not scheduled a date to vote on the proposal. ]
The T-Mobile group appeared unaware that the school system closed Medlock Elementary… another example of questionable communication. Groans ensued when they informed us that the proposed tower would prominently feature the school mascot (a mustang… now sent to the glue factory). No answer was forthcoming as to how cell tower revenue would benefit our community, other than to improve T-Mobile’s ability to better serve its customers and generate income for the land owner. We were informed that the tower would be compatible with other carriers, and that contracts dictate that these structures be taken down should they cease to be operational. Mock-up photos show that the top of the tower (and its ghostly horse) would be clearly visible from any vintage point around the school (Gaylemont Circle and Wood Trail Lane).

This is what the proposed tower would look from Medlock Park, pool side. Additional mock-ups of the tower's visual impact appear at the end of this post.
Mr. McChesney injected a thread of intrigue by noting that Medlock “could” be the site of one of the 900-student schools that the county envisions. This statement was immediately challenged with the request that we table the discussion about cell towers until the school system unveils its Plan.

T-Mobile reps reassured us about the safety of the tower’s output, stating that the strength of output is weaker than common in-house sources such as routers and baby monitors. They referred the audience to their website for reports that vouch that no deleterious short-term effects are documented.

A bit of comic relief (for the audience, anyway) ensued when a T-Mobile representative, fiddling with the microphone, asked “Can you hear me now?”

An audience member asked whether T-Mobile would need to file for a zoning variance; apparently no, as government-owned land is exempt from land use restrictions.

Per our presenters, the County was approached with “multiple” requests for additional cell tower installations about a year ago. T-Mobile was the first to come through with a comprehensive proposal, about 8 weeks ago.

There were many questions about why T-Mobile would consider schools as cell tower sites. They explained that they study the area, first attempting to co-locate with existing towers and that building new towers (a quarter-million dollar endeavor) is a “last-ditch effort.” Audience members asked about using other spaces (non-residential) for said towers. The Zoning Chair offered to talk to T-Mobile about nearby commercial property that is currently underused or empty, and T-Mobile seemed receptive to exploring this angle. Following the meeting, Ms. Same and a T-Mobile rep reviewed the map and it appears that given the area's topography, multiple towers would be necessary to achieve the coverage that the school grounds tower would offer (due to the advantage provided by elevation).

T-Mobile repeatedly stated that they do not wish to come into a space where they are not wanted, and that the audience should voice any concerns through their potential business partner, namely, the DeKalb County School System.

To this end, if you wish to convey your thoughts and concerns about the T-Mobile tower situation, or about other issues relating to the Medlock Elementary school closing and its current status, visit the Board of Education's website (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/board-of-education). Perhaps a place to start is to note that, although the Board states its desire “to form a collaborative effort between school and home,” they should consider adding a 5th goal: that the Board (a) recognizes the pivotal bond that exists between a public school and the residential community within which it exists, and (b) seeks to cultivate transparent communication with all its stakeholders.  

Board Member
Thomas E. Bowen
Chair; District 6

H. Paul Womack Jr

Vice Chair; District 4

Sarah Copelin-Wood
Board Member

Jesse Jay Cunningham Jr.
Board Member; District 5

Donna G Edler
Board Member

Nancy T. Jester
Board Member; District 1

Donald E. McChesney

Board Member; District 2

Pamela A. Speaks
Board Member; District 8

Eugene P. Walker
Board Member

Mr. Donahue (L) and Mr. McChesney (R) (in suit jackets) answer questions after the meeting 
T-Mobile display. 
Proposed tower specifications. It would be 150 feet high.

This illustration shows the corner of the school lot where the tower would be located (around 9 o'clock in this drawing). The space being leased involves a 60' x 60' footprint.

Mockup of what the base of the tower would look like at ground level.

View of Tower and its Ghostly Mustang, seen from the front of the school.

The arrow marks the tower's proposed location. 

Tower's potential visual impact as seen from Gaylemont Circle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MAY 11: Cell Phone Tower meeting today

As noted in our most recent e-mail to the MANA community, one of a series of meetings is being hosted at Medlock Elementary to discuss T-Mobile's desire to erect new cell phone towers in our area.

The following two articles discuss a similar situation, still ongoing, in East Atlanta.

- Public Broadcasting Atlanta report (June 7, 2010): East Atlanta Cell Phone Tower Battle

- Creative Loafing (April 16, 2010): Residents fight cell phone tower in East Atlanta ... again

The Patch has an item discussing cell tower plans for our area (May 4, 2011): T-Moblie Proposes Tower at Lakeside High.


A search for Medlock Elementary's street adderss via the antennasearch.com website (which lists "towers and antennas used for cellular, microwave, paging, and other commercial purposes") shows existing cell towers, antennas, and applied-for permits for structures ~ 4 miles around Medlock Elementary. The lists and map available through the above link are clickable and you can explore additional information about each installation (location, owner).

Per antennasearch.com, in the screenshot below, Medlock Elementary is at the center of the image. The closest registered tower (blue) is at 3391 NORTH DRUID HILLS ROAD; two future towers (red) are proposed for 3145 BRIARCLIFF RD (T-Mobile) and WEST EXCHANGE PLACE LaVista (Dekalb Co. Police). In reference to The Patch article linked earlier in this post, Lakeside High's street address is 3801 BRIARCLIFF RD. NE; this is approx. 1.5 miles away from the proposed tower at 3145 Briarcliff Rd.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MANA Community Meeting and Business EXPO [June 27]

Save the Date: MANA Community Meeting and Business EXPO
Monday, June 27, 2011, 7:00 pm
North Decatur Presbyterian Church (Scott Blvd and Medlock Road)

Please join us at the next MANA Community Meeting where you'll have an easy opportunity to renew your support for MANA for the 2011-2012 membership year, get updates on MANA activities and Medlock Elementary Committee discussions, as well as attend the first annual MANA Community Business EXPO.

The EXPO will showcase local businesses by invitation only (many of whom are advertisers and sponsors of MANA). Be sure to mark your calendars and come out to learn more about how you can benefit AND support our local economy!

Send an e-mail to medlockassoc@gmail.com if you'd like to recommend a local business (particularly home improvement focused) for the EXPO.

Medlock Day

It was a day of remembering favorite teachers, childhood friendships and swapping memories of childhood soon to be shuttered when the neighborhood school closes at the end of the school year due to dwindling enrollment....

Visit the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch for a bittersweet feature on the May 7 Medlock Day celebration.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dekalb Co. Cell Tower Meeting [May 11]

Community meetings will be held at the locations listed below for members of the community to be informed of the proposal to locate cell phone towers in various areas of DeKalb County to improve the communication service in DeKalb. The presentation will be made by representatives of T-Mobile
All meetings will begin at 6:00 pm.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Narvie J. Harris Elementary School
Meadowview Elementary School
Medlock Elementary School

From DeKalb Co. flyer, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/files/cell-tower-community-meetings.pdf

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mason Mill Park Bridge Update via CHCA

Tim @ the CHCA has posted some wonderful pictures of the bridge-in-progress that will connect "our side" of the neighborhood to Mason Mill Park. I find it reassuring the bridge still works when they double-stack the cargo containers!

Here's a screen shot of one of the photos that Tim provided, but check the whole entry and additional photos at the CHCA website.

And for real train fans, Tim also posted video.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May 7: Medlock Elementary Day

Saturday, May 7th, Noon to 4pm @ Medlock Elementary

We encourage ALL members of the MANA community to come show your support and celebrate all that Medlock Elementary has meant to our community since it opened in the 1950s.

On Saturday, May 7th from 12p-4p, the Medlock PTA, in partnership with MANA, will host "Medlock Day". It will be an open house with food, games for the kids, and as many memories as we can compile for all to enjoy.

Do you have Medlock Elementary memories or history to share? Did you attend Medlock or did your children or other family attend this school? Could you let us display your memories?

Can you volunteer to give some of your time on this day to help with the event and event preparations or clean-up?

To offer your memorbilia or volunteer please e-mail MANA at medlockassoc@gmail.com or call PTA contacts and parents Tommy and Wendy Housworth directly at 404-371-8039.

May 4: Laurel Ridge Elementary Open House for New Families

TODAY Wednesday, May 4th, 3:30 to 6:00pm

Laurel Ridge Staff & PTA would like to welcome the Medlock Families to Laurel Ridge! Please come to the Open House on Wednesday, May 4th from 3:30 to 6:00. The agenda for the event includes:

*Greeting and Welcome at 3:30 in the cafeteria!
*School Tours every 15-20 min.
*Light Refreshments will be provided!
*Return to the Cafeteria for Pre-Registration
*Please remember to bring a Proof of Residency.

We all look forward to meeting our newest students and their families!
For any questions regarding registration for pre-K or Kindergarten, contact:
Teilynn Ivey
Chair-Elect, Laurel Ridge School Council and Co-Director, Preschool At The Heights, 678-230-8741 or email:dallas_teilynnivey@yahoo.com 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MANA Neighborhood Watch: April 2011

There have been several thefts and break ins this past month that are summarized in the report below. Please do not hesitate to call 911 if you see suspicious cars or activity at anytime.

How can we prevent crime at our homes?

1) Always lock your house and car doors.
2) Do not leave items in your car - bags, computers, phones, etc.
3) Install motion sensor lights around your home
4) Make sure all trees and shrubs near all doors and windows, where intruders might hide, are trimmed.
5) A nosy neighbor is a burglar's worst enemy. Get to know your neighbors and work out an arrangement to watch each other's houses.
6) Join the MANA Neighborhood Watch!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Please Mark Your Calendars and Attend!

MANA Neighborhood Watch Meeting
May 16th, 7:00 pm at North Decatur Presbyterian

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Case Number: 11-034753
Date: 3/30/2011 9:00 PM

Case Number: 11-034753
Date: 3/30/2011 9:00 PM

We definitely have someone, probably coming from the North Druid Hills area, targeting that area. We need to be vigilant in looking out for suspicious persons in the neighborhood. People should not hesitate to call 911. We can't be everywhere and need all the "eyes and ears" we can get.

Case Number: 11-037513
Date: 4/6/2011 8:15 AM

Case Number: 11-040026
Date: 4/13/2011 4:15 AM
Location: 1100 BLOCK WILLIVEE DR

Case Number: 11-043590
Date: 4/21/2011 7:30 AM
Description: THEFT BY TAKING

My lawn mower, edger, back pack blower, and circular saw was stolen from my back yard and car port today. I just wanted to report it to the neighborhood and to please be on the lookout for anyone suspicious.

Case Number: 11-040765
Date: 4/14/2011 5:30 PM
Location: 2200 BLOCK DESMOND DR

Case Number: 11-045969
Date: 4/27/2011 12:00 PM
Description: LARCENY FREE TEXT Water meter stolen from property

Case Number: 11-046329
Location: 2500 BLOCK BLACKMON DR

Case Number: 11-046393
Date: 4/28/2011 5:00 PM
Location: 2500 BLOCK BLACKMON DR