A Special Place
Atlanta is home to one of the most diverse communities in this great country of ours. Typically, you move to this city (finding a native Atlantan these days is like finding buried treasure) and you will find that it’s people are welcoming and just all around affirming. Here in Atlanta anyone can feel free to be who they are and we will love them for it. That is until, you step into a little niche found within the neighborhood of Druid Hills. A place now known to some and as the ‘stepford’ wanna be ‘twilight zone’ of the “A.”
Druid Hills is a sweet looking little place nestled in the city of Decatur. It sits quietly, just outside the hustle and bustle of tall skyscrapers and harried commuters. It is a safe haven just outside this great metropolis that is Atlanta. Driving through you’ll see the typical signs of suburban life; mom’s strolling about pushing baby carriages, folks jogging along trails of horticultural masterpieces, dog’s playing with their human families on the well manicured lawns. It is regular Norman Rockwell kind of stuff. Druid Hills has so much to offer but, there is a little gem, within that indisputably lovely little place that makes Druid Hills just that much more special. It is known as The Frazer Center.
Every town in every city has a number of academies and schools. Druid Hills is no different. What is different is that in this affluent area of private schools and prep academies also lies one of the greatest learning environments this city has to offer. The Frazer Center is an inclusive learning environment that offers vocational training to adults with special needs and a rich education for preschool children at all levels of ability or disability. The center was founded in 1949 by a couple who had been disheartened to find that very little was available in terms of early education for their own child who had Cerebral Palsy. Though the Frazer Center started in the basement of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, in 1952 the center was relocated to where it stands today. Through the years the center has grown and expanded in so many ways. The center began to offer services to adults with disabilities in the 80’s and in the 90’s a beautiful garden was added. The center has continued to evolve and serve the community in immeasurable ways. Much like the center has changed, so has the neighborhood surrounding it. Beautiful homes were erected throughout the perimeter of the Frazer Center’s lush grounds and the small enclave known as Druid Hills grew to the picturesque small utopia that we see today.
Utopia would be the perfect word to describe this a area of Druid Hills if we could base the truth on mere appearances. The reality however is a sad one. See, all of those beautiful homes that popped up all around the center serve as dwelling to a group of citizens who are not at all impressed with the Frazer Center, what it has meant to a great number of families or what it continues to do for those who really depend on it’s existence. I must clarify, I do not imply that every homeowner of Lake Claire shares this sentiment but the handful that does have made quite an impact. For some time now residents of Lake Claire have all but declared war on the Frazer Center. It seems that those pesky special transportation buses have posed a danger to the neighborhood of magnanimous proportions. To hear the feedback from the “select few” neighbors one would think those busses are more like torpedoes barreling down their perfect roads just aiming for unsuspecting victims to demolish in it’s path. The “select few” have brought up a number of concerns and have caused such a ruckus in getting those concerns heard that this non-profit special needs center has been forced to spend an obscene amount of money to defend its right to be there. To say that this is a sad situation is an understatement of monumental proportions.
There is enough by way of research on the subject to find that at the onset of the issues the neighbors may very well have had some legitimate concerns, however since the disputes have gained steam, the arguments have become less compelling and the neighbors of Lake Claire firmly secured a place in the Ogres Hall of Fame! Time is their weapon and bullying is their ammo. They sit at the back gate of the center watching each and every car that goes in and out of the center. They log every little detail and write letters of complaint to all who’ll listen about it. There actually is a woman who apparently has enough time on her hands to whip out her RADAR GUN and literally clock the speed of cars as they drive by. At this point, honestly, will anyone care about the concerns and see any validity in what these neighbors have to say? From where I stand, these “select few” now look less like concerned citizens and more like suburban bullies. They make demands almost on a daily basis and as much as those demands are addressed by the center, it is never enough. The center has had to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars (did I mention this is a non-profit program) no only to pay attorneys to defend them and their right to be there but they have also made numerous modifications in order to address the neighbor’s concerns good faith. Anything and everything that the Frazer Center can do to alleviate the situation has been done. The only thing left would be to close its doors. Personally, I think that is the outcome that the “select few” are aiming for and I don’t believe they will rest until they get it. My question is, why? Why have they sunk their teeth into this center which has been there much longer than most of them have? What is the outcome that will finally allow this center to get back to what it was created to do: serve special families in the community? When will the center be able to use their resources to purchase much needed special needs equipment instead of wasting it away in defense of their right to be there?
I believe that the Frazer Center is a very special place; a place of selfless devotion to the care of the flourishing futures of special children and adults. I also believe in another special place. I believe in a special place for people who pick on the weak; a special place for those who have a selfish disregard for others. A special place for those who lack the diplomacy to express themselves or meet their own needs without decimating the needs of others.
VirginiaHighland-DruidHillsPatch Residents, parents, discuss frazer center traffic issues http://vahi.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/residents-parents-discuss-frasier-center-traffic-issues