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Atlanta council approves evaluation of school properties
by Neighbor Staff
March 04, 2015 06:02 PM | 245 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Atlanta City Council Wednesday announced it approved at its meeting Monday by a 14-0 vote legislation asking for an evaluation of all properties city-deeded to Atlanta Public Schools and to determine the feasibility of repurposing properties for use as greenspace. The evaluation will look at the best interest of the public, the city and the school district to ascertain the highest use of the properties. “I would like to thank my colleagues for their willingness to at very least evaluate the feasibility of converting some of these unused property to something that would be of a community benefit,” said Post 1 at-large Councilman Michael Julian Bond, the legislation’s sponsor. “We want to make sure these facilities are used in the best way possible. As I said before the evaluation will let us know the most efficient way to use these properties. Currently Atlanta has a dearth of park space, so one option may be to convert these city-owned lands into public greenspace.” According to a February 2008 report, “State of Atlanta’s Greenspace,” prepared by Wallace Roberts & Todd LLC, Atlanta’s existing park system has many issues — beginning with the relatively low amount of parkland in relation to the city’s population and land area compared to other major U.S. cities. Other issues include: o Existing parks tend to be undersized, stretching the city’s resources and the ability of department of parks and recreation to maintain them. For example, 29 parks classified as community parks at the time did not meet accepted size thresholds for this type of park and functioned more as neighborhood parks. o Different types of parks are not evenly distributed throughout the city, resulting in overlapping service areas in some locations and gaps and under-served areas in others. Analysis has shown 59 percent of Atlanta’s residents are not located within easy walking distance of parks via a pedestrian-friendly street network. The report also cited that Atlanta’s population is expected to grow to more than 780,000 by 2030, magnifying the need to secure greenspace and provide additional parkland and recreational facilities to meet citizens’ needs. Many new residents will move from outside of the city (where they likely had access to quality greenspaces) into high-density developments that lack usable open space. Changing demographic characteristics – including an aging population – will also impact needs for parks, recreational facilities and greenspace.
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Atlanta Jewish Film Festival world's largest event of kind
by Neighbor Staff
March 04, 2015 05:49 PM | 395 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With a record-breaking attendance of more than 38,600 moviegoers, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival has achieved the rank of the world’s largest Jewish film festival, concluding its most successful year ever and adding to its existing status as the largest film event in Georgia.
In just 15 years, the festival’s broad-based, multi-cultural audience has enabled it to emerge as one of the South’s premier arts events, attracting an audience of 38,631 in size. That is significantly larger attendance than figures reported by any of the more than 200 other Jewish film festivals worldwide. This year’s 23-day festival ran Jan. 28 through Feb. 19, with 177 screenings of 65 films representing 26 countries.
“This is not only a proud moment for AJFF, but for the entire Atlanta community. With thanks to our wildly enthusiastic audiences, highly dedicated staff and leadership, and extraordinarily generous sponsors, we have together created a centerpiece for Jewish life and culture, as well as a first-class film festival that has garnered international acclaim,” Executive Director Kenny Blank said in a statement.
Said festival board president Steve Labovitz, “After 15 years of extraordinary growth, it is wonderful that we can boast the world’s largest Jewish film festival. As we move forward as an independent arts nonprofit, our priority will be to create a long-term vision for the organization, which builds upon this milestone.”
To ensure accuracy, the festival does not estimate attendance, but instead determines official figures by conducting a manual count of theater seats for each and every screening. This data is also compared against the number of tickets scanned at the auditorium doors, to confirm as precise a seat count as possible.
Serving audiences throughout the metro Atlanta, the festival this year operated in seven theatrical venues. The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre hosted opening night festivities. Regular screenings were held at Lefont Sandy Springs, Georgia Theatre Co. Merchants Walk in east Cobb, Regal Avalon in Alpharetta and Regal Atlantic Station and United Artists Tara Cinemas in Atlanta. Closing night was held at the Rich Auditorium in the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown. With numerous sellouts and encore screenings, the 2015 festival utilized an impressive 75 percent of its total seating capacity.
Information: www.ajff.org
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Sandy Springs' tree ordinance getting residents’ feedback
by Margot Carvallo
March 04, 2015 05:33 PM | 215 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Andy Bauman
Andy Bauman
slideshow
Sandy Springs’ smaller canopy trees will be protected under the new city ordinance.
Following the Sandy Springs City Council’s meeting Tuesday night at City Hall, it hosted a work session dedicated to Sandy Springs’ tree ordinance.
“The proposal is developed to protect more and smaller trees, from current protected size of [an] 18-inch trunk to a 10-inch trunk to count toward canopy requirements,” City Community Development Director Angela Parker said.
Said District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman, “This initiative is for the canopy size to increase.”
Residents supported and welcomed the new changes, but were also abundant in recommendations regarding tree frontage, clear cuts and consequences to residential developers that repeatedly violate the law.
Bauman and District 4 Councilman Gabriel Sterling asked experts among the crowd about the negative impact of tree clear cuts near streams and creeks in the city.
Sherry Epstein, a Sandy Springs resident and member of the Sandy Springs Watershed Alliance, said, “I proposed denying all clear cuts in city’s residential areas and the establishment of a perimeter around tress to protect them.”
Epstein also asked the council to design supervision methods for stream and creek planting to make sure the right type of vegetation is used.
The alliance’s Patty Berkovitz answered Bauman’s question about the impact of clear cutting.
“These are the main benefits of having mature trees around us — water and silt mitigation, flood prevention, secure soil to the land, temperature control and heat island effect avoidance, sound control, as well as wildlife preservation,” she said.
Rhonda Smith and Molly Welch were two of the Sandy Springs residents who complained about housing developments along Long Island Drive.
Where different acreage lots including four entire acres were cleaned of trees for no reason, the residents said. One of the properties has remained idle for a number of years. The other lot was built out. Now there are eight to nine houses were there used to be four, the residents said.
Current fines for ordinance violators is $1,000 per mature tree cut.
Although residents were adamant to the council about wanting them to take time setting higher fines and more meaningful  consequences to law violators, they were pleased to see their intentions are in favor of having a greener city.
The council is planning to make a call for action regarding this ordinance April 7, at the regular council meeting.
Information: www.sandyspringsga.org
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Roswell police department offers meeting space for Craigslist transactions
by James Swift
jswift@neighbornewspapers.com
March 04, 2015 05:29 PM | 319 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last September, Roswellian Daniel Zeitz was shot to death in Sandy Springs. His alleged killers contacted him through a Craigslist ad. In January, Cobb County couple Elrey and June Runion were found dead in Telfair County. Once again, the alleged killer lured the victims by responding to an online advertisement. “Because we heard so many stories about Craigslist transactions going bad,” said Roswell Police spokeswoman Lisa Holland, “we wanted to take a proactive measure and try to end tragedies.” Earlier this year, Roswell Police made an announcement on social media informing residents they can use their 39 Hill St. facility for meet-ups arranged online. “We encourage citizens who are buying and selling on Craigslist to actually go to the police department and use our space to do transactions,” said Chief of Police Rusty Grant. “They can [meet] in the parking lot or they can come inside … it’s just another way we try to make the city safer as they do business.” Officers are present in the lobby Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility is also under 24-hour video surveillance. While police onsite cannot be witnesses, sign legal documents or give advice to those doing transactions, Holland said they can take a look at merchandise. “They can be available to check a serial number on an item,” she said, “to make sure that the item in question has not been reported stolen.” Although the sales are not documented by the department, Holland said several transactions have taken place at the facility over the last few weeks. Similar public safety department services are also offered in Alpharetta and Milton. If residents are unable to make it to their local police departments for sales or purchases, Grant advises citizens to select transaction spots monitored by video cameras, with other people available as witnesses. He also said residents should be suspicious of postings promising hard-to-believe bargains and discounts. “If the deal seems too good to be true,” he said, “it probably is.” Holland said if an online seller or purchaser refuses to meet at a police department, residents should take it as a warning. “Typically, a criminal with ill intentions will not want to show up at a police station,” she said. “If a person doesn’t agree to meet you here … then you should take this as a sign not to conduct business with them.”
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