By Senise Starling
If you live or work in Buckhead, chances are good that at some point you have wished you could walk out your door and take a short walk to the park.
You might have been looking for a place to enjoy your lunch on a beautiful spring day. Or maybe you wanted to let your dog stretch its legs and hang out with four-footed friends. Exercise might have been on your mind, making you wish you had a good trail to run. But chances are, you didn’t find what you were looking for here in Buckhead.
That’s all about to change. In October 2010, working at the request of City Councilman Howard Shook, the Buckhead community decided it was time to take green space seriously. The Buckhead Community Improvement District and Buckhead Coalition provided funding for a study to develop a vision for the commercial core of Buckhead and its adjacent neighborhoods. That vision – now known as The Buckhead Collection – is a comprehensive plan for an interconnected network of parks, trails and green spaces that promises to take this community from the bottom of the barrel to the cream of the crop in terms of green space.
This plan has progressed quickly and has unified Buckhead’s many stakeholder groups in an effort to improve property values and the quality of life. The almost universal support that this plan has received is unique. I’ve worked on Buckhead planning projects for more than a decade, but none of them has engaged the community in quite the same way as The Buckhead Collection. Nearly every neighborhood, business and civic organization in Buckhead has come together to create a partnership that is driving this vision forward. To me, that is a clear sign that this plan meets a critical need and that it casts a vision for creating a better Buckhead for all of us.
Livable Buckhead has been tasked with turning The Buckhead Collection vision into a reality, and the first job at hand is a trail that will run along Ga. 400, from I-85 to the toll booth. Work is already under way, and the Buckhead community can expect to begin enjoying parts of this multi-purpose trail within the next three years.
Green space is often touted for its positive impact on property values, and numerous studies have shown that to be true. The Buckhead Collection takes that effect to the next level, providing the entire community with economic benefits that stretch beyond just the value of proximity to parks and trails.
One example of that is the plan’s proposal to weave Buckhead’s historical and cultural sites into the green space system, connecting them to one another and to the community at large. Creating this cultural network can play an important role in getting our abundant weekday visitors to extend their stay through the weekend, bringing more dollars to Buckhead.
I encourage everyone to visit the Livable Buckhead website (www.livablebuckhead.org) to learn more about the Buckhead Collection. Although it has been shaped by many people over the course of many months, there is still room for the larger community to provide input. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your ideas for future Buckhead parks and trails.
You can also help make this vision become a reality by making a donation. That way, the next time you find yourself wishing for a nearby trail or park, we’ll be one step closer to making your wish come true.
Denise Starling is executive director of Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure the long term vitality and prosperity of Buckhead through community-based strategies and programs.