Grady High School parking concerns

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Plans are in the works to expand the amount of parking at Grady High School. Although parking is an issue, not everyone is on board.

Grady High School is one of Atlanta’s oldest high schools. It was built in the 1920's. Some feel the changes to add new parking will take away from its historic feel.

“Part of the reason that Grady is so important and a really great school, is that you have this connection to greenspace,” Brandon Sheats, a board member for ThreadATL said.

ThreadATL builds public awareness and policy toward a greater focus on good urbanism in the City of Atlanta. Sheats is also a Grady High School alumnus.

He graduated from Grady High School in 2006. He says Atlanta Public School’s plans to put in a parking lot where the traditional front lawn is currently is a huge mistake.

“You have Piedmont Park across the street, you have all of this yard here and there was always a space for people to gather, especially as the school grew larger,” Sheats added. "We needed all of the extra space we had to congregate and have a space in the urban landscape.”

But Grady High School students say parking is a problem for them, and with the growing enrollment, it’s only getting worse.

“We do need more parking, I wish there was a way to do it without getting rid of greens pace around the school, it makes it look prettier, it’s good for the environment, but I think it’s necessary,” student Jake Willoughby said.

According to the design plans report from Atlanta Public Schools, Grady High School is supposed to have nearly 700 parking spaces per Atlanta Public Schools standards.

Right now, it has slightly under 200 spaces. That’s why they plan to add parking to the front lawn along Charles Allen Drive.

“Why are we essentially suburbanizing one of our most urban campuses to create extra space for cars,” added Sheats, “We don’t need more cars parking in our city.”

Sheats says this is a historic school.

“There’s a lot of character in this building,” Sheats said. “You have a number of features that you just don’t get anywhere else, you feel a sense of history of this city.”

CBS46’s Melissa Stern reached out to Atlanta Public Schools and received this statement:

The goal of the expansion to the campus at Grady High School is to relieve overcrowding, eliminate classroom portables, and add to the school’s parking capacity. The year-long design process for the project included a design committee, which included the Grady principal, as well as representatives from the community Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU), the Atlanta Public Schools Facilities Department, the Atlanta Board of Education, the Grady PTA, Go Team and faculty, and the project’s architect and design manager. Atlanta Public Schools takes great pride in the fact that the current design respects Grady’s natural environment while adding a total of nearly 90 much-needed parking spaces for the school’s faculty, staff and visitors. The project is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2020, with an anticipated completion date of Fall 2021.

“It does feel like we’re detracting from the direction the city, overall, wants to go in,” said Sheats.

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