An 89-year-old house sitting on nearly an acre of land in Brookhaven Heights is soon to become a public park that will also serve as a Vietnam War memorial.
The Brookhaven City Council voted unanimously Nov. 12 to join DeKalb County in purchasing the house at 1174 Pine Grove Ave. for $1.35 million. Brothers Robert and Steven Langford are selling the house that has been in the Langford family since it was built in 1930. DeKalb County is putting $400,000 toward the purchase with the city covering the remaining $950,000.
Before the vote, Karen Cariello, president of the Brookhaven Heights Community Association, thanked the council and the county for purchasing the land. For the past several years, homeowners in the neighborhood have sought the city’s help to buy the property and transform it into a pocket park.
“Our neighborhood of 430 homes and over 1,000 residents is a fabulous place to live,” Cariello said. “As great as a place it is, the one thing it has lacked is green space and as the bungalows vanished to be replaced by larger homes the lack of green space has really been felt by us all.”
Numerous other Brookhaven Heights residents also thanked the council, saying the new park would become a safe place for children to play and for families to gather. Currently, children are forced to play in the streets and neighborhood parties and parades are held in paved cul-de-sacs, they said.
District 3 Councilmember Bates Mattison, who represents Brookhaven Heights, said the city and DeKalb County coming together to buy the property was a lengthy process but worthy one to preserve green space.
He also thanked the Langford family, who wanted the house to be made into a park to commemorate their uncle, Cpl. Robert “Bob” C. Langford.
Bob Langford grew up in the house and attended Cross Keys High School. He then joined the Army and served as a corporal with the 327th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War. He was killed Jan. 25, 1968, in the former Phuoc Long province when he was 19. He was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
As part of the purchase agreement, the park will be named the Corporal Robert C. “Bob” Langford Memorial Park and include a monument honoring all Brookhaven residents killed in the Vietnam War.
Closing on the property is expected to be completed by March, according to officials.
District 2 DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader helped negotiate the deal on behalf of the county. He said in August the county had about $1 million remaining in county parks bond money from 2001 for all of District 2. Besides Brookhaven, District 2 includes the city of Decatur, much of Chamblee and part of Atlanta and areas of unincorporated DeKalb County.
Mayor John Ernst said the city is exploring where it will get the money to pay for its $950,000 share of the purchase price. One option includes using money from the city’s 35% in general fund reserves.
The city could also use get the funding from the nearly $1.9 million administrative fee that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta paid to the city to have the Brookhaven Development Authority issue $1.1 billion in tax exempt revenue bonds for CHOA’s massive development at the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange.