Though the vote to create a city of Brookhaven will not be held until the end of the month, Brookhaven YES volunteers already are organizing to explore issues a new city could face.
On July 31, voters will be asked to decide whether to create a new city called Brookhaven in an area of unincorporated DeKalb County between Dunwoody, Sandy Springs and Chamblee.
J. Max Davis, president of the advocacy group Brookhaven YES, said the organization had about 40 volunteers form committees to identify “problems or issues that would need to be addressed by the city.”
There are committees to research police, parks, roads, zoning, code enforcement, and finance and administration, Davis said.
“It’s one thing to incorporate a municipality. But you can’t be caught flat-footed. You have to do some work before the referendum,” Davis said. “It’s a good way to involve citizens in the foundation of their city.”
Tom Reilly, a long-time resident of the Brookhaven area, serves as the co-chair for the parks task force. He said he got involved because he wanted to help make a difference in the community.
“I know these decisions are very, very momentous and they involve millions of dollars and thousands of people’s quality of life,” Reilly said.
Reilly said on June 25, the parks committee did a survey of the 10 parks within the footprint of the proposed city. The group spent the day taking pictures and documenting what needs to be improved or repaired within each park, Reilly said.
“The infrastructure needs work in all of them,” Reilly said. “Finding the problem is the first step toward solving the problem.”
But Jim Eyre, an Ashford Park Resident who is opposed to creating a new city, believes the math doesn’t add up and volunteers could be disappointed if a city of Brookhaven becomes a reality.
“The budget will not permit everything I think the folks have been promised with Brookhaven YES,” Eyre said. “Brookhaven is going to see a dramatic reduction in what is actually provided vs. what is promised.”
Eyre pointed to the recently incorporated city of Peachtree Corners as an example. In late June, the city adopted a budget of $2.7 million, about three times higher than the $760,917 budget that was projected in the city’s feasibility study.
He also believes more time would be needed to plan for the potential city.
“Dunwoody took almost two years to do their services,” Eyre said. “I think to spend what will be three or four months putting that together, I think they’re already behind the eight ball trying to figure out what Brookhaven is going to need.”
But Davis said the committees provide people with control over their community, which is “the essence of what this whole referendum is about.”
“It’s the first exercise toward local control,” Davis said. “These are citizens identifying problems and solutions in their neighborhoods and community and they are laying the groundwork for true local control.”