An information session sponsored by the grassroots group SOSnellville.com drew a crowd estimated at over 800 people to Gwinnett County’s Brookwood High School last Thursday night to discuss a proposal to build apartments near Snellville’s Eastside Medical Center. According to the story in the Gwinnett Daily Post, the biggest concerns raised were a potential increase in crime and the impact on the schools.
[Event organizer Ron] Weber spoke about the impact apartments had when they came into the Shiloh community in 2000 and 2001.
“I owned a business near the apartment complexes and I saw drug deals with my own eyes,” he said. “I saw an increase in crime. A Gwinnett County police officer even voiced that before those complexes went in, that with those developments, there would be more crime … and there was.
“Now, I’m not saying that you can’t get a good education at Shiloh, because you can. But when you look at the difference in SAT scores from 2000 to 2014, there’s a noticeable difference. In 2000, Shiloh’s average SAT score was 1029, while Brookwood’s was 1067. In 2014, Shiloh’s (adjusted) SAT average was 933, while Brookwood’s was 1068. Shiloh’s average decreased by nine percent. That’s a lot. A lot of factors go into the success of schools, but apartments are the catalyst that create those problems.”
The opposition to apartments does not appear to be race-based. Four years ago, the AJC did a story about how the population of the school cluster was majority-minority, and the area has continued to diversify since the story was written.
Instead, the concern is more likely an interest in maintaining the good educational outcome of the cluster’s schools. Brookwood High School has consistently ranked as one of the top high schools in Gwinnett County, if not the entire Atlanta Metro area. High SAT scores help keep home prices up. At one point, the cluster was touted as being the only one in Gwinnett that didn’t have apartments in it, although with new high schools having been opened in the county, that claim may no longer be true.
A large portion of the population that makes up the Brookwood cluster lives outside the city, including some of those leading the opposition to the apartments.
A decision on whether to allow the apartments to be built won’t be made until late October.