Buckhead has no shortage of advocates, but sometimes the number of voices promoting the community can be overwhelming, local leaders say.
The work of these organizations often intermingles, but keeping up with what’s going on involves attending numerous meetings and “inside baseball” knowledge.
The leaders of these various groups said the idea of consolidating some or all of these groups has crossed their minds.
But so far the idea has been a non-starter.
In an attempt to address some of the confusion, on July 27 the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association invited residents to the Buckhead Theater to learn about ongoing projects.
Representatives of the two groups, Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett and Livable Buckhead and BATMA Executive Director Denise Starling, spent a portion of the meeting explaining what each organization does.
Starling said she and Durrett realized they needed to give people a clearer picture of who is doing what for the community.
“We find that when we’re out people don’t know all the things we’re doing,” Starling said.
Livable Buckhead focuses on environment and quality of life. BATMA operates the buc shuttle and focuses on transportation issues. The Buckhead CID levies fees and taxes to pay for infrastructure improvement projects. Then there’s the Buckhead Coalition, a nonprofit civic association headed up by former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell.
And there’s also the Buckhead Alliance, where Durrett serves as executive director, headed up by Robin Loudermilk. The Alliance is another advocacy organization for Buckhead that has moved beyond its mission of cleaning up crime in the East Village area.
Oh, and there’s the Buckhead Business Association, where Jenn Thomas serves as executive director and Catherine Cattles serves as president. That group holds a weekly networking meeting for the business community.
Compare this with the Midtown Alliance, where many of the same functions performed by these different Buckhead groups exist under one roof.
Starling said in Buckhead’s case the multi-pronged approach to community-building makes it harder to communicate and coordinate. But, she said, “It works for us.”
“We’ve talked for years about whether we could roll our organizations up into one,” Starling said. “It’s not going to happen right now.”
Durrett called it a “fractured civic infrastructure.” He said one day combining some or all of the groups will be discussed, but not in the near future. “The time’s not right,” he said.
“We want to be thoughtful about it,” Durrett said. “We will get to a point where it makes sense.”
Massell said he doesn’t see any need for the groups to become one entity. He said the community benefits from having multiple leaders.
“Every now and then, I hear somebody saying we need one voice,” Massell said. “I don’t know of anybody in Buckhead who wants to be spoken for by just one organization.”
Cattles of BBA said the current system works.
“We are very pleased with the independent system of community-based organizations within the Buckhead community,” Cattles said. “These organizations have a longstanding tradition of working together, and the leaders within each of these organizations promote communication across organizational boundaries.”