Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dunwoody can't handle Georgia Perimeter College's growth.



Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody Campus is located in the sleepy bedroom community of Dunwoody's single family residential district of Tilly Mill and Womack. The poor planning of the placement of this location has become evident by the steady increase of vehicular traffic whereby our road infrastructure is overwhelmed and grid locked leading all the way back to the interstate and beyond.

The college has just completed the demolition of the DeKalb School property that they obtained in the swap for Dunwoody Elementary and they are now attempting to convince the State Government and the Board of Regents to go forward with the new construction of two academic buildings and two separate parking structures, in two phases.  If approved by the State, GPC would like to start the first phase of construction of the $28.6 Million dollar, four story academic building along Womack and the adjoining 600 car parking deck in early 2011, followed by an other similar building and another 600 car deck soon after as the photo above shows.

When the City Council learned of these plans we started taking immediate action by talking to GPC and learning everything we could of their plans.  Knowing that GPC is a separate governmental agency and not subject to the control of Dunwoody zoning ordinances; it therefore would be difficult for us to stop their plans through our normal control measures.  That being said, numerous conversations were held with GPC in order to determine how to correct the real issue, which is not the expansion but instead the students cars on our crowded two lane streets, that based on our citizens wishes, will forever be two lane roads.

Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli, President of GPC and Council have been broaching a number of items like limiting the number of parking permits, shuttle buses from remote parking lots like First Baptist Church of Atlanta and other operational improvements like the movement of driveways and egress improvements.

Tonight's meeting on the college and the related traffic was really an impromptu meeting leading up the the January 25th meeting where Dr. Tricoli himself will officially present the expansion plans for the college to the community. The city being in a hard spot as far as forcing concessions from GPC that will have long term improvements for the residents, the best solution may be to encourage the State of Georgia not pass the funding mechanism to build the expansion.

After tonight's meeting expect the Mayor and City Council to be more vocal about what they are doing about GPC instead of just attempting to work behind the scenes with the powers that be. If we the Council believed that our recommendation that the expansion of Georgia Perimeter College be moved to another location in the City or possibly another location in the suburbs (someone said Roswell would be a key place for GPC expansion) would be effective then that would probably be the ultimate goal of Council. Barring GPC doing what we ask, just because we asked, what can we the city do to help alleviate the traffic woes that the students cause to the residents. There were a number of suggestions made at tonight's meeting and trust me that they will all be on the table for us to contemplate.

Come early to the meeting on the 25th as I am guessing it will be tough to find a seat by meeting time.

PS: Allow me take a shot at the first question.  Dr. Tricoli, based on the fact the first paragraph at the top right of the document states that structures are designed to be environmentally friendly with an emphasis on the use of mass transportation, walking, and biking.  If that is the case, why do we need 1,200 spaces for automobiles?
Georgia Perimeter College expansion plans Dunwoody Campus

6 comments:

Mark said...

The college, and in particular the expansion, present a great difficulty. I wish you, John, and your fellow council members patience and fortitude in dealing with the existing school traffic problem, and the matter of expansion including 1,200 new parking places. Despite Dunwoody having no authority regarding the uses to which the school puts its property, I wonder if the state has some compelling interest to insure that the operation of its schools do not have an adverse impact on the areas in which they are placed. It may be worth checking.

Cerebration said...

It's astounding that DeKalb county schools chose to locate the new elementary school in this mess of morning school congestion. Funnily enough, the excuse for not rehabbing the old Shallowford ES was because it was in a high traffic area!

Oh well, too late now. There really doesn't seem to be a way to fix the traffic issue. Maybe this campus should become the one where students live on campus??? Maybe they could try harder to work out a class schedule that doesn't compete with the high school and ES traffic? Maybe someone needs to carve a new road from Cotillion through to the back of the school? Maybe MARTA needs to beef up their bus schedule that serves this campus?

Dunwoody Mom said...

It's not just a traffic issue for Tilly Mill and Womack. North Peachtree backs up most mornings past Peachtree Middle School towards Chesnut Elementary with traffic trying to get to Tilly Mill. This is a dangerous issue for those students trying to get to school. Between the cars trying to get to and from I-285 from Fulton and Gwinnett and the GPC traffic - there is a traffic nightmare in Dunwoody. Since the streets cannot be widened, I'm not sure there is anything that can be done.

Pattie Baker said...

And now Saturdays are a mess, too, by the way. I ran into what appeared to be the "new normal" for weekday traffic around that area while trying to get to the community garden yesterday.

Chip said...

John:

Several years ago, DeKalb County approached the Dunwoody area with a plan to improve roads, especially those around the GPC.

As I recall, Dunwoody North Homeowners Association as well as DHA were VERY VERY opposed to the plan in its entirety, and got "the masses" out in force to shoot it down.

One DeKalb speaker said, "If you don't want us to spend the money on you, we'll find other places to spend it." and that's about the last time DeKalb County did anything for Dunwoody except for sidewalks.

I think the folks of Dunwoody have brought this problem onto themselves in large part with their unreasonable expectations that "two lane streets" are the only streets that we can have.

We've "lost" the battle with the college even before we begin, so why not "join 'em" and improve Tilly Mill, Womack, and N.Peactree to cut down traffic backups!!

Chip

Kirsten said...

We were on our way home from gymnastics last Thursday and it took a full 20 minutes longer to get home than the previous Thursday - before GPC classes began. The major factor in this backup seemed to be the GPC traffic officer directing traffic. In his opinion it is fair to let 10 GPC vehicles to exit on to Tilly Mill Rd, then let 10 neighborhood vehicles to pass. However, the neighborhood traffic was backed up Womack beyond the high school and was backed up Tilly Mill as far as I could see.

If this two roads are converging why is a "10 for 10" cars fair? It should be 20 (10 from Womack and 10 from Tilly Mill) then 10 GPC vehicles. Actually, I think it should be 20 to 5. I would consider that "fair".

So when I looked around at the roads back up as far as the eye could see, were there any students left trying to exit GPC? No no. They were already gone because of the "fairness" policy of this "officer". I don't think that's "fair" at all.

Why does GPC even have the right to stop traffic?