By Michael Jacobs

Brookhaven Fields residents have to look out for themselves, their neighbors and even those who live a few miles away, according to speakers at the annual meeting of the Brookhaven Fields Civic Association on May 6.

The meeting in the fellowship hall at Brookhaven United Methodist Church drew about 70 people, who feasted on pizza from Elwood’s, which provided the pies at a 20 percent discount. The crowd elected two new members to the association board, Alvin Bryant and Brendan Smith, to replace one member whose three-year term ended, Bruce Swartz.

That was the only official action association President Carol Kemker presided over, leaving the rest of the night for socializing and hearing reports from committees such as Parks and Gardens, Safety, Technology, and Social, the last of which promised on the stormy night that “not all of our events get rained out.”

“This really is a great neighborhood,” Kemker said.

Dist. 2 DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader spoke to the group about parks and green space, including the planned Clack’s Corner pocket park in Brookhaven Fields and efforts to improve Brookhaven’s Briarwood Recreation Center, which he said has the only public gym in his district. Rader urged residents to show DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis they want him to direct more county funding toward Brookhaven, even if it’s not in Brookhaven Fields.

Farther afield, Rader talked about a new planning process for the Lower Buford Highway Corridor, which he said is plagued with “depreciated properties” and has issues such as buildings that encroach on the flood plain.

The goal now is to have the community plan the redevelopment of the corridor between North Druid Hills and Briarwood roads before outsiders come in and redevelop the area piecemeal, Rader said, adding that the effort could use contributions from Brookhaven Fields residents.

“This is a strong neighborhood,” he said of Brookhaven Fields, which has more than 700 homes in an area bounded by Apple Valley, North Druid Hills and Briarwood roads and Dresden Drive. “That neighborhood (the Buford corridor) is not so strong.”

DeKalb police Officer Kim made a similar point when he said of crime this year: “The area over here is not as bad as other locales.”

Still, Brookhaven Fields is like most neighborhoods in facing the problem of thefts from vehicles. Kim said the usual items, such as laptop computers and GPS devices, are common targets because people leave them in plain view in the car instead of locking them in a trunk or bringing them inside.

Car owners can become victims even without expensive electronics. Kim mentioned one theft at Brookhaven Station in which the culprit broke a window to steal 50 cents. The culprit likely got a doughnut with the money, Kim said; the vehicle owner got a $500 repair bill.

“He doesn’t care about the $500 you have to spend,” the officer said about the thief.