Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst held his first town hall Jan. 28 and listened to concerns and questions from more than 50 people gathered at Lynwood Park Recreation Center.
A top concern of the night was, unsurprisingly, traffic. Several residents brought up their frustration with ongoing gridlock they say is harming the quality of life they seek to have in Brookhaven.
“I’m a real fan of the city. But the issue that concerns me … is we seem to be making that mistake where we let development happen, and we know they are starting in gridlock areas, and say we will look at traffic another day,” said Wayne Fell.
“We’re going to be like Buckhead in just a few years,” he added to applause.
Ernst mostly listened as people stated their concerns that also included development, schools, speeding and parks. He asked people to state their 2016 goals for the city.
Ronnie Mayer , owner of Atlanta Towing Company, said his goal was to not locate the library or city hall at the planned MARTA/Oglethorpe transit oriented development.
“You’re not going to take your grandkids to the MARTA station to the library,” he said.
“And don’t put city hall there,” he added to applause.
Terrell Carstens asked the city’s leadership to protect the suburban feel of Brookhaven.
“I would like to see a goal of our leadership, elected and other city officials, to … understand what we’ve been asking for three years. We understand urbanism but we want to remain a suburban feel,” she said.
“Rather than throwing up your arms and saying, ‘You’ve just got to live with it, it’s a reality, this is going to be an urban environment ‘… that you help us by protecting the suburban feel of our neighborhoods and leave the urban part to only commercial ares,” she added. “I think this is a huge value this close to Buckhead and the city of Atlanta.”
Only one question from the friendly crowd was posed about the $225,000 payout to former city manager Marie Garrett in exchange for her resignation. Ernst said the issue was completely finished as of Thursday and said he was legally bound to not comment further.
Ernst explained Brookhaven is a strong city manager system and that the mayor and council are not in charge of day-to-day operations. He said criteria for the new city manager includes that he or she be able to conduct community outreach.
Also as a way to address citizens’ wishes for more city outreach, Ernst said he is working on identifying each HOA in Brookhaven to ensure city officials can attend those meetings to get the word out about what is happening.
The city is also working with Google Fiber to find a new location for a hut after the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals rejected its plan for a key utility hut in Parkside Park. Ernst promised “we will find a solution in the end.”