Concerned about the recent resignation of their representative on city council and by two unsolved drive-by shootings, residents of Brookhaven’s District 2 recently gathered for a “town hall” discussion in Ashford Park.
“The purpose of this meeting is to connect with District 2 residents due to the recent resignation of District 2 Councilman Jim Eyre, but more importantly to make sure the citizens of Ashford Park understood that although there’s no elected representative aside from the mayor, we’re all trying to pitch in,” Mayor J. Max Davis told the crowd.
Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura said that while his department has received numerous tips on the two drive-by shootings in the Ashford Park area, it’s “kind of at a dead end.”
On the evening of June 23, two shots were fired from a silver or white car at a house on Green Meadows Lane, followed by a shot fired at a witness fleeing the scene. The next night, a shot was fired at a home on Cravenridge Drive, which is about 1.4 miles away, from a car matching a similar description.
“It could be gang initiation, could be the wrong house,” Yandura said.
When a resident asked how long it took police to respond to the Green Meadows incident, Yandura said it was about 13 minutes as it took DeKalb County 911 around five or six minutes to dispatch the info to Brookhaven Police. Yandura said he expects response times to get better when the city switches over to ChatComm, a 911 service used by Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, in August.
Drew Valley resident Lissie Stahlman said that cars speeding through her neighborhood concerns her.
“I walk my dog every morning,” she said. “People leaving for work in my neighborhood need to get up 10 minutes earlier so they’re not breaking a land-speed record getting out of my neighborhood. . . . I’m really getting fed up with it but I think were going to need some police intervention.”
Resident Ruth Blackstock said she was concerned that with Eyre’s sudden resignation in April, citizens are underrepresented and council members are overworked.
“We are doing so much in this city, you guys have taken on a tremendous agenda and there are still only 24 hours in a day,” she said. “I am watching some very good people be very thinly stressed to try and address the needs of all the constituents.”
Blackstock asked if the council would consider adding one or two at-large members.
Davis responded that while working on incorporating the city he was in favor of at-large positions, some citizens in the Ashford Park and Brookhaven Fields neighborhoods influenced the Legislature to create the five-person council, including the mayor and four council members representing specific districts.
But, he said, he’s starting to think differently about his original stance. Davis explained that during conferences and training, he’s found that cities with larger councils and sometimes smaller populations tend to disagree and not get much accomplished. “There is a danger to having too many people trying to govern the city,” he said, adding that districts of about 12,500 people each are manageable.
While under state law Brookhaven cannot hold an election for District 2 until the General Election in November, Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams encouraged those in attendance to start thinking about whom they would like to represent them.
“Get some good candidates to run,” she said. “You’ve got such a wealth of talent in your area. I would encourage all of you to start talking to your neighbors” before the Aug. 19, 20 and 21 qualifying dates.
City Manager Marie Garrett also attended the meeting to discuss planning in the city, which is developing a master plan along with transportation and parks plans and a strategy for improving the Buford Highway corridor.
“We have a little jewel in this city that has supreme opportunity for improvement,” she said. Garrett encouraged residents to stay involved with the steering committee and master plan process. “We want community input,” she said.
Following the town hall, Davis said he thought it went well and was delighted to hear applause.
“They’re listening,” Blackstock said.