In an April 4 letter to District 3 Board of Education member Gail Dean, Chris Clark, president of the Riley Place Homeowners Association, wrote, “As I stated to you, virtually all Sandy Springs residents interested in the decision of the board concerning Heards Ferry know of the possible site consisting of six home sites on Riverside Drive. It continues to amaze all concerned that the stated reason for secrecy and lack of information being conveyed to the community concerning this site is that real estate values may become inflated if the site were to become known. It is time for the board and/or the staff to let the community become informed of your evaluation of this site, react to it in open forum and to learn where this site stands in your process of narrowing down alternative sites. The common knowledge is that only this site and one other on the ING insurance company property remain as recommended sites for relocation, plus the alternative of rebuilding on the current school site.”
Attached to the letter is a petition with 98 signatures from area residents. The petition reads, “We, the undersigned, are immediate neighbors of the site on the southern end of Riverside Drive in Fulton County, where the Fulton County Board of Education has announced plans, as one of several alternate sites, to relocate Heards Ferry Elementary School. We are inalterably opposed to the use of the proposed site for such a relocation, and urge the Fulton County Board of Education to hold public hearings, with adequate official and public notice, where we can express our opinion, and to abandon this site.”
The school district has been criticized for how it has handled the plan. One of the proposed new locations is a cluster of six homes on the south end of Riverside Drive, according to a March 4 letter to the school board and Fulton Board of Commissioners from the Riley Place Homeowners Association, which strongly opposes the plan. According to the letter, the district may use eminent domain to acquire some of those properties.
But district officials insist it is considering 20 possible sites, and said they can’t comment further on the proposed locations because real estate matters are discussed only in the board’s executive session, and Georgia law bars them from talking publicly about them.
The district plans to select a new site or chose to rebuild Heards Ferry on its current campus by this summer, with the new campus opening by August 2015. Under the proposal, the expanded Riverwood campus would open in August 2017. If Heards Ferry relocates to a different property, Riverwood would expand onto the old Heards Ferry campus, which abuts Riverwood’s.