Despite opposing forces from the surrounding community, Grady should proceed with its construction plans for a new parking lot along Charles Allen Drive.
Construction on Grady’s expanded campus is set to begin winter 2020 while students are home on holiday break. Upon returning to Grady, parking will be limited, due to the closure of the dirt lot for construction. The new parking lot along Charles Allen Drive is the best way to alleviate the already relevant parking problem.
Originally built as Boys High by architect Philip Trammell Shutze in 1924, many regard Grady’s exterior and foliage as too historical to compromise.
However, even if the parking lot were not constructed, the current construction plans for the new building still include chopping down trees and placing instructional suits on the front lawn. Alvah Hardy, APS’ executive director of facilities services, said that trees would be replaced “inch for inch.”
Some community members wrote of their opposition. Maria Saporta, in her publication, SaportaReport, said, “Grady’s front lawn — an attractive green space that’s bordered by mature trees — provides a wonderful park-like connection from the neighborhood to Piedmont Park. How could anyone believe that turning the front lawn into a surface parking lot is a good idea?” and “the beauty of our schools’ grounds must not be sacrificed as the system expands.”
Grady alumni of past decades might reminisce about eating lunch on the long green grass lawn, but in recent years the lawn has served no purpose, except for providing a sidewalk that visitors use when going to the main office.
Concerns over keeping the current aesthetic of the front of the school should not be taken into consideration, because providing students with a place to park their cars is a more pressing matter.
In approximately four years, Grady is expected to reach 1500 students. This increase will also cause a need for additional teachers and staff. Without the 90 new parking spaces promised by the current construction plan, students would have fewer transportation options.
SaporaReport also suggested school buses, MARTA buses, the BeltLine, and carpooling, but these alternatives are not efficient in working around the schedule of students in clubs and sports.
I am not completely advocating for a loss of green space, but no other realistic solutions have been drawn up by APS.
Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen wrote that she was “open to any better ideas,” but as construction nears, APS simply cannot abandon its plans and leave students without parking.