Emory University formally asked Tuesday to be annexed into the city of Atlanta, a move expected to make it easier for the school to lock in funding for light rail service to its DeKalb County campus
In an email to the school body, president Claire E. Sterk said becoming part of the Georgia’s biggest city complements both Emory’s DeKalb County roots and relationship with Atlanta.
“Emory has built affiliations and community engagements that span DeKalb County and the city of Atlanta,” Sterk wrote. “For example, Emory’s operations include several hospitals and clinics in DeKalb County and one in the City of Atlanta––Emory University Hospital Midtown.”
The news comes as city and MARTA officials prepare discussions on the millions in transportation spending expected to be come as a result of last year’s approval of an almost penny sales tax increase for roads, sidewalks and public transportation improvements.
Light rail connectivity from MARTA’s Lindbergh Station to Emory’s Clifton Road corridor and nearby Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been discussed as a top spending priority.
“As an Emory graduate, I would be delighted if the annexation process is completed and they are a part of Atlanta,” said City Councilwoman Mary Norwood. “That is good news for them and good news for Atlanta.”
DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader expressed concern that others could follow Emory’s lead and potentially “destabilize” the region. He wants Atlanta to agree not to allow piecemeal annexations of neighborhoods or shopping centers, and worries that Emory’s decision could impact future transportation agreements.
DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond was unavailable for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Emory has been planning to combine its 600-acre campus with Atlanta for nearly a year as the school seeks to more closely identify with the city. The annexation covers property owned by Emory, and residents wouldn’t vote on the university’s move into Atlanta.
The decision to annex now goes before the Atlanta City Council.
“As a current Emory University employee, I will recuse myself from their petition process,” said Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan, whose district includes Emory. “That said, I’m very excited about the prospect of Emory’s officially joining the City of Atlanta and the range of opportunities it will create.
A spokesperson for Kasim Reed said in a statement that the mayor welcomes those who want to become part of the city.
“We have a strong working relationship with DeKalb County to jointly serve the thousands of residents that currently located within DeKalb,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to working through this annexation process with the petitioners and the county.”
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