The Brookhaven City Council unanimously approved Feb. 27 renaming what has been known as the PDK airport green space as the Ashford Forest Preserve.

From left: Council Member John Park, Mayor John Ernst and Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden visit the 33-acre property on April 28, 2017, the day the tract legally transferred to the city of Brookhaven. (City of Brookhaven)

The city purchased the 33 acres of land between Clairmont Road and Skyland Drive from DeKalb County last year for $5.7 million.

The name Ashford Forest Preserve was requested by the North DeKalb Greenspace Alliance, a nonprofit formed by local residents who have been working since the 1990s to preserve the large tract of land as a public park. The organization incorporated in 2015.

The alliance’s board of directors recently voted to recommend naming the park Ashford Forest Preserve, said City Councilmember John Park.

“We are moving forward on the work to ensure that the property is safe for all residents to enjoy, and this begins with a competitive bid process to perform the remediation and order signage” said Mayor John Ernst. “It’s appropriate that we give this park its name first.”

The 33 acres of land was originally designated as a “crash zone” for a now-decommissioned runway for DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, originally part of the World War I military training facility Camp Gordon. The property includes mature trees, a stream, wildlife and native plants.

“We delivered on our promise to the dedicated citizens in this community who have been lobbying for years to have this land preserved,” said City Councilmember John Park. “Brookhaven is now solely responsible for the future of this priceless urban forest, and the real work is about to begin.”

Ken Yates of Brookhaven and a member of the North DeKalb Greenspace Alliance, thanked the city for saving the forest “from certain destruction and development.”

“The city has truly embraced that preservation is progress,” Yates said.

The city financed the property acquisition through a 20-year loan with a $500,000 loan forgiveness grant at a 0.89 percent interest rate provided by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), providing the best available financial mechanism to secure and preserve this property, according to city officials. As part of the agreement, the city must preserve the land for green space and cannot sell it for development.

Dyana Bagby

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