The Ashford Alliance Community Association has been low profile for awhile.
Last year, the alliance, a collection of neighborhood representatives in northern DeKalb County, stopped its regular meetings. The activism and the strength of the organization languished.
Now, the alliance is looking for a renewed energy and a stronger voice in land use, transportation and park issues.
Sandy Murray, on the board of the Ashford Alliance, says it needs to get ahead of the curve.
Murray, a computer consultant, made an unsuccessful bid in November to unseat state Rep. Mike Jacobs in District 80. The Oglethorpe Estates resident has been a fixture at Brookhaven civic meetings.
The alliance, Murray said, wants to have a voice in issues in its “catchment area,” which includes Brookhaven and the area south of Dunwoody.
The large, diverse area of DeKalb is one of the reasons active members of the alliance took a step back last year to decide how it could gain more clout.
“We thought for most of last year that we would reorganize,” Murray said recently. “We wanted to see what would make it worthwhile to the neighborhoods.”
A recent annual meeting of the alliance at Merrill Gardens drew a modest 30 or so members. They were passionate about parks.
Marvin Billups, the county’s deputy director for park planning and development, attended the meeting to talk about the county’s parks. Specifically, the limited county funds.
Murphey Candler Park and the fate of a former Sea Scout Hut on the property were important for several members of the alliance. So are the development of pedestrian paths that can link communities, and be separate from major roadways, Murray said.
Billups explained to the group how the community can raise money for park projects they care about. The county has a method to build these type projects quickly, and community groups can circumvent an often cumbersome county bidding process.
The alliance was called to action several years ago in response to large developments, such as Town Brookhaven near Peachtree Road, Murray said.
“The pressure of development seemed to come from every angle,” Murray said. “As an alliance our hope is to be a clearinghouse for all of the issues that affect the quality of life in unincorporated DeKalb.”
In the past, the alliance has been caught behind the curve of expansion, she said. Marist adding to its campus near Ashford-Dunwoody Road is an example, she said.
Now, the alliance has strong footing with a variety of specialties, Murray said. One board member is plugged into the county’s zoning, another works on transportation issues. And several members are invested in pedestrian paths, naturalist areas and improved parks.
The alliance’s footprint doesn’t tread on Ashford Park Homeowners Association, which has its own organization on the east side of Peachtree Road. That could change, Murray said, and including Ashford Park could help the alliance.
“We need to have an urban rather than a suburban mentality,” Murray said.