Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell, right, talks to members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, including Garth Peters, at left.

Buckhead Coalition president Sam Massell told a recent gathering of neighborhood leaders his organization plans to set up a new program to develop future leaders for the Buckhead community.

Massell said the coalition, a business group, planned to create a Buckhead Ambassador program “to create some young leadership.”

Leadership has long been the community’s strength, he told members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. The community’s leaders come from churches, service clubs, community groups and homeowners groups, Massell said.

“This is the formula for success in Buckhead,” he said. “It’s not luck. None of it happened by accident.”

The new program, he said, would be intended “to create some leadership” as current community leaders age.

He said the program would bring together a group of 25 Buckhead men and women who are 20 to 30 years old for a training program put together by the coalition.

The program likely would include sessions on how to get involved with volunteer groups, and some portions of the program being taught by instructors from a business school, he said.

The program should cover “just basic things we don’t think young people know,” he said.

“Maybe we can start something and start to build some leadership in the community,” he said.

No date has been set to start the program, the coalition said.

In addition, Massell – regarded as one of Buckhead’s biggest boosters – brought a simple message to a recent gathering of neighborhood leaders.

“We’re doing just fine,” Massell told members of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods during the group’s Sept. 13 meeting at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

His evidence? Look to the construction being planned, he said. “We said at the beginning of the recession that a neighborhood like Buckhead would be the last to go and the first to come out,” he said. “We are definitely coming out of it.”

Massell said thousands of new apartments are being developed or are proposed for development in the area.

“Three and a half years ago, when the recession started, we didn’t have any,” Massell said.

“Now we’ve got 2,600 units announced and half [are] under construction. That’s telling us people are moving into Buckhead. There’s a demand.”

Office buildings are filling, too, he said. Buckhead may have drawn criticism as being overbuilt just a few years ago, he said, but some of those buildings that stood empty then now are nearly filled, he said.

And Buckhead’s population is rising, he said.

While the city of Atlanta showed a small increase in population in 2010, Buckhead had a 17.8 percent increase. “All of your growth in Atlanta took place in Buckhead,” he said.

“We’re in good shape,” he said.

Asked why he thought the transportation sales tax failed at the polls this summer, Massell, a former Atlanta mayor, said he thought proponents of the tax failed to reach homeowners with their campaign.

“The weak part of that campaign was that they didn’t touch you guys,” he said. “You’re the ones who vote. They did a wonderful job with the business community, but they didn’t get to you guys.”

After the defeat of the 1-cent transportation sales tax at the polls, “we’ve got to come back with a different plan and it’s got to include the grass roots.”

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.