By John Schaffner

How do you get the city of Atlanta to repair almost 300 potholes in just a couple of weeks?

The answer is to band together neighbors in the 28-square-mile Buckhead area to identify the potholes by street address and GPS coordinates in an effort led by a powerful civic organization, such as the Buckhead Coalition, and submit it to the mayor with a little persuasion—and a guarantee as well.

The city tagged the project “Code Buckhead 300,” although the neighborhood volunteers and the coalition identified a total of 302 potholes in the Buckhead neighborhoods. But the city only had responsibility for filling 290 of the potholes, since 12 are on state roads and are the responsibility of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Because of this cooperative public/private partnership, and the coalition’s fall-back commitment to funding if required, the city moved most proficiently in scheduling repairs,” said Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition of 100 prominent residents and company CEOs.

In a letter to the 16 Buckhead neighborhoods that turned out volunteers to map the potholes for the city, Massell said, “We were glad to be the catalyst in expediting the city’s attention to this issue, but your volunteers are due the thanks for actual manpower. The fact that this challenge was completed so quickly, in about two and a half weeks, is certainly impressive.”

Coalition vice president of community programs Garth Peters said, “Somebody just has to step forward and take a leadership role.”

Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, sent out an e-mail blast to 700 residences to solicit help from the neighborhood in locating potholes.

“The Buckhead Coalition had a really good idea and the city sure did respond,” Certain said.

The 16 Buckhead neighborhoods which participated in mapping the locations of potholes for the Buckhead Coalition’s project were:
  • Brookwood Civic Association
  • Collier Hills North Neighborhood Association
  • Garden Hills Civic Association
  • Memorial Park Civic Association
  • Mount Paran-Northside Citizens Association
  • North Buckhead Civic Association
  • Paces Civic Association
  • Peachtree Battle Alliance, Inc.
  • Peachtree Heights East Civic Association
  • Peachtree Heights West Civic Association
  • Peachtree Hills Civic Association
  • Peachtree Park Civic Association
  • Ridgedale Park Civic Association
  • Tuxedo Park Civic Association
  • West Paces/Northside Neighborhood Association
  • Wildwood Civic Association

He also pointed out that Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook also reported finding potholes on his recent walks through the neighborhoods he represents.

Based on the information from the volunteers, a map of Buckhead’s 28 square miles was marked with red dots to accompany the lists of the pothole locations. “Who would know better than the people who live right where the potholes are?” Peters said. “There is no way the city could do this project on its own this quickly.”

The city’s departments of Public Works and Watershed Management handle the repairs on local roadways. State officials handle repairs on Georgia highways.

After the potholes were located, Massell met with Atlanta’s Performance Management Deputy Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui to outline and prioritize a schedule for getting the work done.

Massell thanked Mayor Kasim Reed for his quick response to the coalition’s appeal for help. “Cooperation through a public/private partnership is the best way to speed the process,” Massell said.

Massell also suggested to the neighborhoods who participated in the project “a three-line note from you to the mayor’s office expressing appreciation for the recent roadway work in your neighborhood would not be inappropriate.” As a former Atlanta mayor, Massell should know how important those little notes can prove to be.