When Gordon Certain first moved to north Buckhead in 1975, he used to take walks along Mountain Way.

“It was just beautiful,” he said. “You couldn’t tell you were in the city.”

Things change, of course.

Now, “all you’ve got to do is look up,” Certain said. “[You see] the concrete cloud.”

These days, Mountain Way passes beneath those most urban of developments – Ga. 400 and MARTA trains. The winding road, which connects North Wieuca and North Ivy roads, passes beneath the highway and the commuter train that runs through the area.

But Certain, who’s president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, and some of his neighbors see an opportunity in the little patch of urban green beneath that concrete cloud.

They think it would make a nice city park.

On Aug. 4, the group will hold a public meeting at St. James United Methodist Church, 4400 Peachtree Dunwoody, to talk about whether residents want to try to convince the city to turn 6 to 8 acres of Georgia Department of Transportation right-of-way on Mountain Way at the Ga. 400 crossing into a park.

“We’re very, very, very early in the process,” Certain said. “What we’re trying to understand, before we go to government officials, just as our neighborhood, do we preserve this?”

He thinks the answer is likely to be yes. An online survey of his neighbors had yielded about 100 replies, he said, and about 95 of them answer the question positively. And the 5 percent who didn’t weren’t really opposed to the plan, he said. Instead, “they were either indifferent or didn’t know enough to say,” Certain said.

“The results that are coming back that I’m seeing right now are overwhelmingly in support,” he said.

One of the tasks ahead, he said, is to convert the group of volunteers aligned with the project into a more formal group to work on creating the park.

The idea of developing a park on Mountain Way in the Ga. 400 right-of-way arose during community discussions going back to 2007, Certain said. DOT officials have generally supported the idea of converting the land to a city park, he said.

“The DOT, so far, has been wonderful – unexpectedly wonderful,” he said. “But it is their land and we need to work out an agreement with them.”

The idea for carving a park from DOT right-of-way connects with plans to develop a Buckhead trail system along Ga. 400. Liveable Buckhead Inc., a nonprofit group, proposes building trails along the highway roughly from the Ga. 400 toll plaza to I-85.

Denise Starling, executive director of Liveable Buckhead, said a park at Mountain Way would be “an integral part” of the trail plan. “The main goal of the trail is to connect our parks together to help create a coherent system and it runs right through this area, so it is perfect!” she said in an email.

She welcomed the neighborhood project to develop the park. “Personally, this park opportunity is one of my favorites and I am thrilled that Gordon is pushing ahead to get it developed,” she said in her email. “It is a surprising space – Ga. 400 is so high there that it creates a unique area with a lot of great opportunities, given its topography and proximity to the creek.”

Certain’s neighbors have organized at least three cleanups of the Mountain Way property in recent years, he said. “We cleaned out a lot of junk and we pulled up a lot of kudzu,” he said.

He wrote in the most recent community newsletter that the Mountain Way property “is not yet the kind of place where families with kids would feel comfortable about walking down and playing along the creek.” But, he wrote, he can imagine a time when “the thicket has been cleared; you can now see deep into the woods.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.