Emory faculty votes to oppose highway to Jimmy Carter library
Former President Carter is running into more opposition over a parkway being built here in connection with his presidential library. This time the opposition comes not from neighborhood groups, which have long fought the parkway, but from Mr. Carter's colleagues at Emory University, where he teaches.
Emory will operate the Carter Policy Center, just a few feet from the Carter Presidential Library. Two lanes of the proposed four-lane parkway pass on either side of the Library/Policy Center complex, putting it in the median.
Carter supports the parkway as currently designed. He has said that it provides ``vital'' access to the complex and ``will honor the integrity of environmental quality standards.''
Emory faculty members welcome the library and policy center. But in a vote on Tuesday, they strongly objected to the 21/2-mile parkway -- by a 4-to-1 margin. The chief complaint: The parkway passes through residential areas and small, historic parks.
Through their secret ballot, the Emory faculty -- which rarely speaks out as a body on such public issues -- is urging Carter to abandon his support for the current parkway.
Aside from the parkway's effect on local neighborhoods and parks, the faculty resolution also cites ``unethical and illegal actions'' involved in the project.
The Georgia Supreme Court recently voided an Atlanta City Council vote that transferred park land to the state. They took the action because Council President Marvin Arrington had a parkway-related contract pending for his company. A new council vote is scheduled May 20.
The faculty vote is ``going to put President Carter in an incredibly difficult position,'' says Dan Carter (no relation to the former President), an Emory history professor who led the drive for the vote. He said that the vote puts the faculty on record as saying, ``We don't have any confidence in you [the former President].''
Professor Carter contends the reason the former President backs parkway construction is because the project grants him the use of 26 acres of state-owned land adjacent to the Library/Policy Center.
Dan Lee, spokesman for the former President, was unavailable for comment.
George Parks, dean of Emory's School of Business Administration, says it is ``inappropriate'' for the faculty to take public stands -- a position that parallels that of Bob Strickland, chairman of the broad of trustees. Dr. Parks also doubts the faculty vote will have much effect on former President Carter's activities at Emory or the Carter Policy Center.
Rondo Cameron, Emory's Kenan University professor of economic history, questions the ``morality'' of those leading faculty opposition to the parkway, saying they don't live in Atlanta, where the parkway is being built.
Emory theology Prof. Jack Boozer said former President Carter ``has created an atmosphere in which very few individuals or departments want to cooperate with him on joint appointments'' to the Policy Center.