I have a lot of readers in the Windward community, and many of you will probably disagree with me today. Please don’t take me off your Christmas card list!
Meet the Amana Academy, a charter school in Alpharetta. They teach kindergarten through 8th grade and have an enrollment of about 500 students. They were recently recognized as the 2011 Charter School of the Year for Georgia. We’re fortunate that an outstanding school like Amana calls Alpharetta home.
But Amana has a growth problem. Since their founding in 2005 they’ve operated out of leased space on South Main Street. Today it doesn’t meet their needs. They’ve identified a vacant office building on Windward Parkway near Edison Drive that would be perfect for their growing enrollment. However, moving into this space would require changing the Windward Master Plan which prohibits schools. Residents in the Windward neighborhood protested when this came up earlier in the Fall. Thankfully the parties involved agreed to postpone this issue until after the city elections in November. So here we are. The Alpharetta City Council will consider Amana’s case Monday night.
Windward residents object to Amana primarily because they don’t want to set a precedent of making changes to the Master Plan. They don’t see a compelling reason to change the plan. I disagree.
The compelling reason to change the plan is that an award-winning school wants to move near your neighborhood. This should be encouraged and celebrated! This is a highly desirable school for many parents. In the long run I think it’s proximity to Windward might be a boon to property values.
But what about traffic? The studies show that a school in this building would generate less traffic than an office filled with cubicle dwellers. On top of that, the peak traffic times for this school would be slightly offset to that of Windward’s rush hour.
While I don’t live in Windward, I drive the east portion of Windward Parkway as often as any resident. Creating a traffic problem on this road is nothing I’d support. Amana doesn’t create a traffic problem.
I respect the idea of wanting to preserve the Windward Master Plan. I don’t think fighting a school of this caliber is worth expending political capital. I agree with my friends in Windward on a lot of issues, but I think they need to pick their battles. This isn’t one worth fighting.