Lakeside Community Questions Expansion at Board Meeting
Six Lakeside community members raised the issue of reconsidering the potential 750 seat expansion plan for Lakeside at the November 6th Dekalb Board of Education meeting. Parents and residents in the community all brought up different issues, such as traffic and flooding, that the expansion may cause.
The group signed a letter posing the previous arguments, as well as opposition to expansion at Dunwoody and Chamblee Charter High Schools, urging the Board of Education to “consider longer-term options that are potentially more beneficial for our community at large...”The letter posits that Briarcliff Road’s two lanes cannot support the increase in traffic and not enough has been done to deal with watershed issues. The letter, calling the expansion a “quick fix” to population growth, requested that the board postpone action on the expansion, hold well-publicized town hall meetings to promote understanding in the community, prepare to reopen discussion of constructive and sustainable solutions, and respond to the letter with solutions to the issue within 30 days.
The proposed expansion would extend the school’s capacity from 1,756 (which it currently exceeds with 2,165) to 2,500 students, creating 750 new seats, a two-story, 38 classroom addition, 138 new parking spots, an employee parking deck with access to Oak Grove Road, a kitchen and cafeteria addition, and media center addition.
Graphic courtesy of: DCSD Planning Department
One of the main arguments is that the construction can cause more flooding. According to DeKalb Schools Fact Checker, “LHS is built on the edge of a floodplain. As a matter of fact, the conceptual designs relocate the softball field right on top of a stream in the middle of said floodplain." Due to the elevation of the area, Echo Lake is one of the lowest points in the area, causing large silt deposits to build up over time. This has caused the lake to no longer be able to hold water, which often leads to floods on rainy days. “Building within 75 feet of a creek violates stream buffer laws ,” said letter co-author Debbie Miller, “If the school system were to violate the stream buffer and pipe the creek, water would move with greater velocity, causing more erosion, sedimentation, and flooding downstream.”
Just a Rainy Day Photo of flooding found in the Dewberry Report, which investigated flooding at Briarcliff Road and Echo Lake. Source: Echo Lake HOA
Other community members like Kay Colson and Ed Ewing, who do not have children at Lakeside but live and pay taxes in the area, expressed concern with the speed of the decision and feel that there was little community input. “If you wanted to do the job right... you’d hire strategic planning consultant before you expand the school system,” said Turner. The letter also addressed this concern by stating that the “ ‘education-focused’ groups in charge of providing input do not include community members with no daily connection to the schools”.
The expansion will likely worsen Lakeside’s already heavy traffic. Community member Kenneth Lippe argued that the building of a parking garage “will cause an unprecedented of traffic will back up twice as much during mornings.” To support the group’s claim, Miller sent Legend staff writer Celeste Chapman’s traffic video from the Legend’s website to the DCSD board.
The Dekalb County government issued a resolution to DCSD that “Urges the School District to consider the infrastructure impact caused by adding space for a substantial number of new students at Lakeside, Dunwoody, and Chamblee Charter High School;” and suggests that DCSD build a new high school in Doraville.