CDC receives funding approval for construction of West Campus

A planned expansion that will increase the size of the main campus of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by about 70 percent could turn out to be a mixed blessing for Emory.

While the CDC will build a new facility to replace the existing Clifton Child Care Center as part of the expansion, the additional personnel who will work on the main CDC campus adjacent to Emory will contribute to traffic congestion that is already overburdening local streets during morning and afternoon rush hours.

The CDC plan
The CDC won federal approval of funding for the expansion last fall, and construction is expected to begin in January 1998 on what the CDC is referring to as its West Campus. CDC officials first publicly proposed the plan nearly two years ago. With the exception of a DeKalb County fire station at the corner of Clifton Road and Clifton Way that will remain, the plan calls for the CDC to purchase the block bounded by Clifton Road, Clifton Way and Michael Street, which contains the Clifton Child Care Center and a number of private homes. Emory owns less than three acres of the 17.6-acre West Campus site, and approximately two of those three acres are occupied by the Clifton Child Care Center.

Bob Young, a spokesman for the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees land acquisition and facilities development activities for federal agencies, said that current plans call for the Clifton Child Care Center to remain in its current location for the next three to four years. Young said the GSA has begun discussions with Emory, the CDC and Egleston Children's Hospital, the current users of Clifton Child Care, regarding a new child care center that would be located within the laboratory portion of the CDC expansion. The new center will be constructed while the current child care center remains in operation, then move to the new location upon its completion.

Over a 20-year period, the CDC expansion will include 695,000 square feet of laboratory, office and support space, as well as 2,300 parking spaces. The existing 27.6-acre CDC complex includes 884,000 square feet in 17 buildings housing 1,900 employees, as well as 1,800 parking spaces.

The first phase of the expansion plan, completed last January, includes the CDC's new headquarters building and an adjacent parking deck at the corner of Clifton Road and Clifton Way. The building is directly across the street from the West Campus expansion site.

The plan's impact
The GSA has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examining the long- and short-term effects of the CDC expansion. In 1995, GSA identified three alternatives to be examined in the EIS process: The lengthy EIS document was completed last year and published in the Federal Register in December. The abstract that prefaces the EIS states that, "The principal negative impacts of the preferred alternative would be the removal of approximately 2.75 acres of urban forested habitat, the relocation of several institutional users and additional traffic in the area. Principal impacts from [the other two] alternatives would be even greater traffic impacts and extensive grading. Beneficial impacts would be realized by meeting the CDC's projected space needs."

Emory reaction
The University is cooperating fully with the CDC in the agency's efforts to expand its facilities to meet future needs. "While the University is not anxious to dispose of property in this area, we are certainly willing to cooperate with our neighbor, the CDC," said Vice President for Business Bobby Williams. "We wouldn't sell this property to just anybody."

The University, Williams added, has expressed its concerns about the expansion to CDC officials. Those concerns include increased traffic congestion and working to improve MARTA service in the area, as well as keeping the fire station in its current location and replacing Clifton Child Care. Williams said that based on the CDC's long track record as a good neighbor, the University has every confidence that the agency will bear Emory's concerns in mind.

-Dan Treadaway

Return to January 21, 1997 Contents Page