After many years of negotiations, the city and DeKalb County finally agreed to a price for the city to buy the front portion of Brookhaven Park. But now that the city is ready to move forward with planned improvements to the park, including a gateway entrance on Peachtree Road, city officials are expressing frustration that DeKalb may not seal the deal until the end of summer.
Last year, the city agreed to purchase the front 7.2 acres of Brookhaven Park from the county for $2.2 million. The $2.2 million was included in the $40 million parks bond approved by voters in November. The agreement capped back-and-forth negotiations between the county and city that had been underway since the city was founded in 2013.
After the parks bond vote was approved, City Council officially approved a resolution to buy the property from the county for the agreed-to price of $2.2 million with plans to begin park improvements as soon as possible. But the purchase is slower than the city would like on the county’s end, according to City Manager Christian Sigman.
“We are trying to get through the county’s legislative process and quite honestly I don’t know how that works,” he said in a May 14 interview. “Now that we have approved drawings, we can’t put them out to bid because we can’t work on property we don’t own.”
The city is ready to put out bids for a gateway entrance into the park from Peachtree Road. Design plans are ready and permits are being gathered. But the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners must still approve the sale purchase agreement and contracts to transfer the property to the city.
“The sale still has to go through the legislative and legal process … but it has been a very, very glacial process with the county,” Sigman said. “We’ve been trying to get this done for six months.
When asked about the delay in approving the sale, DeKalb County responded with a May 28 written statement saying final details are still being worked out.
“DeKalb County officials have an agreement in principle with Brookhaven officials regarding the sale of property adjacent to Brookhaven Park. Both parties are now finalizing the details of that proposed agreement in order to present it to the governing authorities of DeKalb County and the city of Brookhaven for approval,” according to the statement.
Brookhaven spokesperson Burke Brennan issued May 29 a written statement saying the city expects the sale to be finalized by the end of this summer.
“A tentative agreement has been reached, and lawyers for the city and the county are working to get the agreement finalized and approved by both governing bodies,” Brennan said. “We expect the transfer to be complete by the end of summer.”
The city wants to begin soon the construction of the gateway entrance into Brookhaven Park for pedestrians walking along Peachtree Road. The parks bond oversight committee, made up of community volunteers, approved the overall design plans for the entrance in May.
The planned gateway entrance differs from an iron fence conceptual plan proposed by the Brookhaven Park Conservancy years ago that included a wrought iron fence and arch. The new design is planned to be granite columns entrance with built in granite seating to the sides of the entrance and an iron arch with the words “Brookhaven Park.”
Other amenities planned for the “front area” of the park to be paid for with parks fund money include: a new 10,000-square-foot playground area with equipment for different ages; a pavilion with restroom; shaded seating area next to the playground; an expanded community garden area with garden shed and restroom and outdoor work station; and renovation of the existing pavilion.
Finalizing the purchase of the front portion of Brookhaven Park would bring to close a six-year process of negotiations between the city and county.
The city purchased the back 12 acres of the park from the county in 2017 for $100 an acre.
The purchase of the front portion of the park does not include about 3 acres where the DeKalb Services Center and its parking lot are located. The DeKalb Services Center has been located on Osborne Road since 1978 and provides programming for adults with special needs.