A proposed study of whether a city of Brookhaven is economically feasible could be completed by October, the man likely to conduct the study told a gathering of north DeKalb County residents.
Ted Baggett of the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia told scores of residents gathered at Oglethorpe University on May 24 the study would examine potential revenues and the cost of services for a new city in the area.
“We’re not going to take a side,” Baggett said. “We think doing this kind of research is an impartial way to add to the public discussion.”
The study will be released to the public when completed, officials said. It will look at likely borders for a new city and would examine the range of services, such as parks or police, the new entity might provide, as well as potential revenues, Baggett said. He described it as a “snapshot” of a possible city.
Rep. Mike Jacobs, who has proposed legislation creating a new city in the area, said the study probably will examine several possible outcomes. Jacobs has said his legislation is a way to spark public debate over the creation of a new city and requires the Vinson Institute study. He has said he introduced the legislation this year so it could be considered in the 2012 Legislature.
The study could be financed by a nonprofit citizens group created to raise money for the project. Jacobs said he may also be able to find a source of state money to help pay for the study.
“Ultimately, this is going to be a conversation with the community about if you would have a city and what that city would be,” Jacobs said. “There are a lot of different ways this could be done. We can discuss all this as a community.”
Jacobs said he intended for the Vinson Institute to examine three areas. One would be bounded by Chamblee and Dunwoody and extend to include the neighborhoods of Historic Brookhaven and Lenox Park, he said. Another study area would add Ashford Park.
The third study area would include only neighborhoods in the Murphey Candler area and around Silver Lake, an area he said shows “a high level of support… for some kind of municipal option.” If creating a new city wouldn’t work, those areas might want to seek annexation into Chamblee or Dunwoody, he said.
“We’re going study different scenarios,” Jacobs said.
The meeting, called and moderated by Jacobs, drew about 200 residents. Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody, Reps. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody and Elena Parent of DeKalb County and Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson attended. At times, discussion grew contentious as some residents questioned the need for a new city or wondered what effect creating another city would have on the county at large.
“I’m kind of offended,” Ashford Park Civic Association president Ronnie Mayer told Jacobs. “I’m sitting here and you’re bashing our elected officials and bashing our police department and you’re talking about using state money to fund this. It should all be private money.”
Other residents said they had no complaints with the services they now receive from DeKalb County.
“The question is whether the local citizens want to have another layer of government,” said resident Jim Johnson. “Do we want to have our own city hall, our own jail, have our own police writing tickets?”
But Millar, Jacobs and others at the meeting said the new city could provide residents more efficient delivery of services than DeKalb.
“DeKalb County is a mess,” Millar said.
And Millar, Jacobs and other legislators at the meeting said that if the community does not support the creation of a new city, the effort will fail.
“This is just options here,” Millar said. “There is not a hidden agenda here to create a city next week. Nothing is going to happen until next January.”