Brookhaven’s vision of taking the lead on what could become a 12-mile “Greenway” along the north fork of Peachtree Creek took a step closer to reality during a presentation by designers at the Aug. 9 City Council work session.
Regional connectivity and attaching the Greenway in Brookhaven to PATH400 and the Atlanta BeltLine are part of long-term plans for the project that carries a hefty price of more than $35 million, according to plans drawn up by Heath & Lineback Engineers Inc., and presented by Carlos Perez of Perez Planning + Design, LLC.
“What excites us is that someday you will be able to go to Brookhaven, to Buckhead and to the BeltLine,” Perez said after the presentation to City Council. “And this is something we see millennials and Baby Boomers agreeing on.”
Brookhaven’s slice of the proposed 12-mile Greenway stretches 2.7 miles along the North Fork, approximately one mile within the Century Center office complex that borders Chamblee near I-85 and Clairmont Road.
While the Greenway is getting a start in Brookhaven, the ultimate goal is a park and trail along the entire North Fork of Peachtree Creek, which runs from Mercer University in unincorporated DeKalb County to near the PATH400 trail in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood.
Masked by buildings and overgrowth, it can be hard to see the creek, even from bridges spanning it. The Greenway is intended to improve the environment while encouraging commercial development facing the creek instead of simply hiding it.
Betsy Eggers, credited with leading the effort of the Peachtree Creek Greenway that began in earnest three years ago, said the renderings of what the Greenway could be exceeded her expectations.
“It’s so hard to picture what it can be when you look at the kudzu-covered riverbed and how overgrown and nasty things are,” she said. “What will happen in the future is amazing.
“This will be so much more than just a little park; it will be a legacy park,” Eggers said. “It will be an attraction of regional interest.”
The North Fork Creekside Trail in Buckhead, a mile-long paved trail from Lindbergh Drive to Cheshire Bridge Road, is ready for Brookhaven to connect, Eggers said.
“They’re just waiting for Brookhaven to build its path to get there, and then get to Lindbergh Drive and then to the Lindbergh MARTA station,” which would take pedestrians and cyclists to the yet unfinished northern edge of the Atlanta BeltLine, she said.
The City Council was visibly excited about the plans they reviewed.
“This is really exciting,” said Councilmember Joe Gebbia. “I remember in 2013 walking this and seeing the potential.”
The economic payback to the city if the pathway does in fact connect with PATH and the BeltLine will be invaluable, he said.
Perez told council members that through community input, the development of the Greenway should be done on the commercial side of Buford Highway and not the residential side.
People want a combination of safe multi-purpose trails and nature trails, Perez said. The Greenway also can be considered a “catalyst” for development along Buford Highway, but the area should not develop in a way that is a detriment to the international culture and affordable housing that makes the corridor unique, Perez said.
A tricky park of the project will be acquiring the land needed to build the Greenway. Much of it is now held by private owners. The city of Brookhaven does own one parcel along the creek. It was granted by the Pink Pony strip club as part of a 2014 lawsuit settlement.
City Manager Christian Sigman told the council that a consultant has been hired to assist with land acquisition. The developers recommend a five-year plan that develops a segment of the Greenway from Villas at Druid Hills to Briarwood Road at an estimated cost of about $5.8 million.