Projects funded by a Special Services District in Brookhaven could include numerous multi-use paths, the construction of a new City Hall, or the third phase of the Peachtree Creek Greenway. 

The Brookhaven City Council heard a draft list of projects during its annual retreat, also called the “Council Advance,” where council members talked about priorities for the upcoming year. Much of the conversation revolved around the Special Services District. 

The council voted to create the special tax district, which would have certain business owners pay more property taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, at a December meeting last year. During a separate, special-called meeting, the council passed an ordinance that defined taxpayers in the Special Services District as any property within city limits that is not homesteaded, so it is not an owner-occupied, single-family dwelling. 

At the advance on Feb. 5, City Manager Christian Sigman presented the draft project list to the council. The list is preliminary and will require further direction from the council as well as public engagement. The projects named in the list, as well as their estimated costs, are not set in stone. 

“The dollar amounts are our best guess at this time,” Sigman said. “When it comes back from engineering, it may be higher, may be lower.”

The draft list includes 18 projects listed in a category called “Connectivity,” and an additional eight projects listed under an umbrella called “Enhancing Community Experience.” The connectivity projects are listed at an estimated cost of roughly $202 million, while the community experience projects are listed at an estimated cost of $57.9 million. 

Each of the projects listed under connectivity comes from one of the city’s master plans, Sigman said. 

“We tried to identify projects that could have the biggest bang for the buck across all those different planning documents,” Sigman said. 

Sigman said if the council wanted to keep the tax rate lower than that of unincorporated DeKalb County, they could not set the millage rate, or the tax rate used to calculate local property taxes, higher than 4.5 mills. An additional millage rate would only be implemented if a public input process decided upon specific projects that the special tax district could help fund. 

During the retreat, the council also discussed other methods of funding projects. Councilmember Linley Jones said she was still analyzing what the special tax district could bring versus other sources of funding, such as the recent federal infrastructure bill

“We’re on the cusp of determining if we have these other funding sources,” Jones said. “It makes the decision about whether the SSD tax is the way to go a bit more complicated. For my part, I’m still analyzing that, and we haven’t even begun to get public input on it.” 

Mayor John Ernst said he didn’t think the city should rely too heavily on federal funding from programs such as the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which is an Atlanta Regional Commission program that allocates federal funds for transportation projects. 

“The state doesn’t see us as a big city,” Ernst said. “Every time with TIP, we’ll get one or two projects, and that’s all we get.” 

Ernst said the list should prioritize the projects the city wants to do first, but if funding from another source were to become available for a particular project, the city could substitute a separate project in. 

“We’re basically saying these are the projects we want done first,” Ernst said. “Outside of any other mechanism, we’re going to do these projects with the SSD.”

Sigman said the next steps for the Special Services District would be to work with members of the council individually to refine the list of projects. After those individual meetings, the council is expected to reconvene to discuss the proposed list in a work session, but no date has been set. 

The list will go through a public engagement process, but Assistant City Manager Patrice Ruffin said there wouldn’t be a schedule for that process until the council provided more direction on how to approach the list. 

A draft list of projects provided by the city can be found below. 

Connectivity

  1. Dresden Drive Sidewalk and Bridge Replacement: this project would complete a sidewalk along the north side of Dresden Drive from Apple Valley Road to Clairmont Road.
  2. Pedestrian Bridge – Peachtree Road (Town Brookhaven to Caldwell Road): this project would construct a pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Road, MARTA, and Norfolk Southern Railroad to connect Caldwell Road to Town Brookhaven. 
  3. Pedestrian Bridge – North Druid Hills: this project would construct a pedestrian bridge over North Druid Hills Road. 
  4. Caldwell/Redding Realignment: this project would realign parts of Caldwell Road and Redding Road.
  5. Apple Valley Sidewalk/Multi-Use Path: this project would construct a multi-use sidewalk on the east side of Apple Valley Road from an existing sidewalk to E. Osborne Road. 
  6. Peachtree Road LCI (Dresden Drive to Ashford Dunwoody Road): this project would include streetscape improvements along SR 141 and Peachtree Road. 
  7. Peachtree Creek Greenway Phase III: this project would extend the Phase I trail of the Peachtree Creek Greenway north from Briarwood Road to the Chamblee city line. 
  8. Ashford Dunwoody Multi-Use Path: this project would include three phases to create a multi-use path. 
  9. Chantilly Sidewalks: this project would construct a sidewalk on Chantilly Drive from the intersection of Chantilly Drive and Executive Park South to Sheridan Road. 
  10. North Druid Hills Road Multi-Use Path – Sylvan Circle to Apple Valley (MARTA) – with Streetscape from Buford Highway to Roxboro: this project would complete a multi-use path on the east side of North Druid Hills Road from an existing multi-use path south of Sylvan Circle to the MARTA Station at Apple Valley Road. 
  11. Peachtree Road/Ashford Dunwoody Road Intersection Project Supplemental Funding: this project includes an extension of a southbound right-turn lane, a multi-use path on the east side and a sidewalk on the west side of Ashford Dunwoody Road.
  12. Nancy Creek Multi-Use Trail: this project would include four phases and create a multi-use path on Nancy Creek Drive. 
  13. Street Light LED Conversion: this project would replace city-owned street lights with LED fixtures.
  14. Traffic Cameras and LPRs
  15. City Hall
  16. Peachtree Road/Buford Highway Beautification Crew: this crew would be responsible for maintaining these two corridors, as well as landscaping projects along both corridors. 
  17. Staffing: staffing needed to execute these plans 
  18. Buford Highway Streetscape: this project would include streetscape improvements and beautification 

Enhancing Community Experience

  1. Murphey Candler Athletic Field Redevelopment
  2. LED Light Upgrade at Athletic Fields
  3. Turfing Blackburn Athletic Fields
  4. Underground Utilities City Centre – Dresden Drive Only
  5. Land Acquisition – Dresden Drive (Includes Basic Plaza)
  6. Festival Music Acts 
  7. Art Exhibitions 
  8. Holiday Celebrations 

Sammie Purcell

Sammie Purcell is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers.