joe earle North Buckhead Civic Association president Gordon Certain, left, listens as Paul Taylor, director of Atlanta’s office of Park Design, discusses how residents can help create a new park where Mountain Way passes beneath Ga. 400.

An overwhelming majority of the Buckhead residents responding to an online survey said they found the idea of a new park at Mountain Way to be desirable or very desirable, according to survey results released August 4.

North Buckhead Civic Association president Gordon Certain told a group of about 35 residents who gathered at St. James United Methodist Church on August 4 to discuss the park that about 55 percent of the 138 people who filled out the survey found the park proposal “very desirable” and about another 40 percent called it “desirable.” Only one person labeled the proposal “undesirable,” he said.

“I thought we’d be worried about whether there’s support for a park or not,” Certain said. “It looks like there’s support for a park.”

One person who took the survey called the proposal “a childhood dream come true,” according to results posted on the civic association’s website. Another commented that “any park space in the city is a good idea.”

Residents attending the meeting said they wanted to begin working on a design for the park, which would be located on Georgia Department of Transportation right-of-way where Mountain Way goes beneath Ga. 400.

“We, as a community, need to figure out what kind of a park we want,” Certain said. “It shouldn’t be dictated by anyone.”

The proposed park would connect with a proposed trail system along the Ga. 400 right-of-way and appears on maps of the proposed trail system. Denise Starling, executive director of Liveable Buckhead, the non-profit group promoting the trail system, told residents at the August 4 gathering that the park was “one of the major initiatives coming out of that plan.”

Paul Taylor, director of the office of parks design in the city’s parks, recreation and cultural affairs department, said a next step could be for city representatives to begin discussions with officials from DOT over the use of the property. “You’ve got to think of it as a park that can evolve,” he said, “and not as something that can roll off the back of a truck.”

The survey found a strong majority of respondents – more than 70 percent – thought the park primarily should serve the surrounding neighborhood. More than 70 percent of the residents answering the survey said they would walk to the park and more than 70 percent thought the park should only be open during daylight hours.

“I would like this to be a quiet neighborhood park, a gathering place for neighbors…” one resident wrote. “My concerns are creating something that draws an undesirable element into our neighborhood. We live directly adjacent to the park area under consideration and are supportive, as long as it stays as a quiet neighborhood park.”

Certain suggested the city also should reach an agreement that would allow volunteers to work to clean up the area. Volunteers already have removed kudzu from the area, but there are other plants that should be removed, residents attending the meeting said, to make park feel safe. One woman at the meeting said her son described the area as “creepy street.”

Residents offered different ideas as to what sort of park the area eventually should offer.

Some thought it should provide a playground. “When my granddaughter visits, we have to go to Chastain [Park] for a playground,” said Sue Certain. “It’s hard to get there by foot. … [But] it feels like we could walk over here and have a playground.”

But resident Anne Marie Hooper said many parents in the area have play sets in their backyards and residents needed “a place to go that’s more natural.”

More than 60 percent of the respondents to the survey called a small, all-weather playground a “very desirable” or “desirable” feature, while more than half rated a larger playground as “very desirable” or “desirable.” At the same time, more than 60 percent rated as “very desirable” or “desirable” an observation deck to look at wildlife.

“We really need a playground in this area! I think it would improve home values,” one resident commented.

But another said, “Please, no playgrounds! Can we please have one park for adults?”

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.