The excitement of the City Council’s unanimous vote Aug. 23 to approve the $35 million Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan is getting directed into the land acquisition needed for the new park and trail to become reality.

The unanimous approval of the Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan was greeted with applause and the blowing of party horns as the council and numerous volunteers and residents in support of the plan celebrated what has been some three years in the making.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst, center, members of City Council, Peachtree Creek Greenway volunteers and a representative from The Salvation Army applauded approval of the Greenway’s master plan on Aug. 23.

“This is a historic moment for Brookhaven,” Councilmember Joe Gebbia said of the vote.

But the plan for a multi-use trail and park along the Peachtree Creek covers land that is almost entirely privately owned.

Currently the city owns only a parcel behind the Pink Pony strip club and has an access agreement with a new gas station planned for Buford Highway. Land acquisition or access is the next step, and the Salvation Army may offer an opportunity.

A “100-day action plan” outlined by engineers Heath & Lineback in the master plan includes the city allocating funds in the 2017 budget for the design of the Greenway between Villas at Druid Hills and Briarwood Road, and to coordinate with the Salvation Army to “secure access to their property through a donation, acquisition or an easement for the future construction of the trail.”

The Salvation Army property is located between Buford Highway and I-85, just west of North Druid Hills Road, with a patch of woods behind its parking lot.

Capt. Ken Argot of the Salvation Army gave the invocation at the Aug. 23 meeting, and posed in a group photo with the council and volunteers after the vote.

“To this point, there have been no formal presentations from the city of Brookhaven to The Salvation Army Board of Trustees regarding the use of the space behind our locations, however, we are in current conversations for a plan that would be beneficial to both parties and the community,” Argot said in a statement.

“This project has been a catalyst for better partnerships and more involvement with the city of Brookhaven and The Salvation Army in the future, and we look forward to working together on this and other projects that will benefit our community,” Argot said.

Betsy Eggers, chair of the nonprofit Peachtree Creek Greenway, said she was happy Argot attended the meeting and is looking forward to working with The Salvation Army.

“The work is in process,” she said.

A consultant has been hired to assist the city in land acquisition. City Manager Christian Sigman said the next steps for the project are to transition from planning to strategic finance and budgeting.

The Peachtree Creek Greenway plan is a 12-mile multi-use path and linear park that is designed, in the long term, to connect the Atlanta BeltLine to Brookhaven, Chamblee and Doraville.

The North Fork of Peachtree Creek begins outside of I-285 and mostly flows along I-85 until it joins the South Fork of Peachtree Creek near the Lindbergh MARTA station and Path400 in Buckhead.

The initial focus of the project is on three miles within Brookhaven and approximately one mile through Century Center in Chamblee.

The developers are recommending a five-year plan that develops a segment of the Greenway in Brookhaven from Villas at Druid Hills to Briarwood Road at an estimated cost of about $5.8 million. This is expected to be the most “aesthetically pleasing segment of greenway” with two green space areas, according the draft plan.

Plans for this segment include a major trailhead at Northeast Plaza and a trailhead at Briarwood Road, with unpaved nature trails and paved trails on both sides of the creek. According to the master plan, the south side trail system requires redevelopment of property on the I-85 access road that will include a connection to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“This is not going to be an inexpensive project, but it is going to be a statement project,” said Councilmember Gebbia, who represents District 4, where the Greenway will be located. “It’s going to be a sought-after trail … and the only park in the city to be an economic generator.” District 4 currently has no parkland.

Gebbia said analysts have estimated the city could make $6 or $7 for every $1 spent investing on the project.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.