DeKalb County officials are beginning to eye other properties for the Brookhaven Library Branch.
Commissioner Jeff Rader has sent acting library director Alison Weissinger a letter asking to arrange a meeting with the library board to make an official decision on building the library at the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station.
“I wanted to work with the library board to either confirm that is the preferred location or evaluate other locations within the community,” Rader said. “If it’s not going to be there we have to have some sort of public process to figure out where it will be.”
About five years ago, Brookhaven residents worked with county officials to create the Brookhaven-Peachtree Livable Communities Initiative plan, a plan filed with the Atlanta Regional Commission that was intended to direct future development in the area.
Residents sought a plan that would give their community a center, believing the new heart of the community should be near the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station and contain a library. MARTA included the library in its plans for development around the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station.
But due to the economy and its own budget issues, MARTA has stalled the redevelopment of the station and both MARTA and DeKalb officials believe it may be necessary for the county to find a new location for the library.
“It’s seems like it’s going to be too long of a wait for us,” said Weissinger, the acting DeKalb County Library director.
MARTA Senior Development Associate Jason Ward said the transit agency does not have a target date in mind to begin work on the Brookhaven station.
“The overall status of the development market here is really what we’re waiting for to improve,” Ward said.
Ward said in 2008, just when MARTA was gearing up to redevelop its Brookhaven MARTA station, its financial situation began to crumble.
“Back in ‘08 we were granted $3.6 million from the Atlanta Regional Commission to build a parking garage which would replace some of the spaces that would be lost (in the redevelopment),” Ward said. “We were supposed to match that money. With our budget situation and the status of the economy, unfortunately we had to give that funding back.”
Ward said MARTA is hopeful that the library can remain a part of the Brookhaven station redevelopment, but is realistic about the timing issues involved.
“They had asked us the status of the project and we explained to them the funding and that from a funding standpoint we’re not there, so it’s going to delay the project. That’s where we left it,” Ward said. “We’re still very much open to having a library on the property if they are able to do so.”
Ward said despite delays, MARTA intends to move forward with the development plan outlined in the LCI plan.
“Overall I think it’s important that the community recognize it’s clearly market driven. But we’re going to honor the LCI as closely as possible as soon as the market allows,” Ward said. “We’re just waiting on the market to come back so we can implement the things the community wants in these LCI studies.”
Weissinger said the community has started making suggestions about where the library should be located.
“It’s all on the table right now. Nothing’s been completely eliminated,” Weissinger said.