By Joe Earle & Jason Massad
Brookhaven grew up a century ago around a private golf course. In 2010, some residents were hoping to create a new center for the community at a public park.
Descriptions of Brookhaven Park often include words such as “forgotten,” or “out of the way,” or “overlooked.” But the 20-acre county park drew its share of attention this year.
“It’s a fabulous, fabulous place,” Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association board member Karen Spitz told members of the Brookhaven Community Connection last summer as she presented a new plan for fixing up the park.
The notice paid to Brookhaven Park was one of the top stories in Brookhaven during 2010.
Other major, ongoing stories include the opening of a new warehouse megastore; plans to rebuild one public high school and revive the track at another; and the sudden, surprising victories posted by a high school football team.
Brookhaven Park draws notice
2010 opened with complaints from residents who had regularly let their dogs run at Brookhaven Park that DeKalb County police were ticketing them for leash-law violations. They wanted the county to let dogs without leashes to have free rein in the park. Police referred them to existing county dog parks elsewhere.
Others were talking about Brookhaven Park, too. Members of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association developed a plan to improve the park that called for new pedestrian entrances and included a fenced dog park, a playground and a skate park. But county officials told residents they didn’t have the money to make the improvements.
Soon, other residents proposed other ideas. Some called for the construction of a new $3 million Brookhaven Library as part of a multi-use government facility in the park. But the library project went nowhere in 2010 as the library board, which planned to build the library near the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station, waited for the cash-strapped MARTA board to restart the stalled development near the station.
The Y makes a deal with Cross Keys High
In July, the cash-strapped DeKalb schools reached an agreement with the Y of Metro Atlanta to allow the Y to use Cross Keys High School athletic fields. In return, the Y would fix up the neglected ball fields. Representatives of the Cowart Family Ashford-Dunwoody Y planned to use the fields for soccer and other programs, allowing the Y to bring programs to youngsters who live along the Buford Highway corridor. The Y planned to spend up to $178,000 on renovations at the fields, which were to start with reseeding a field and adding fencing and eventually could include resurfacing the track and adding a building for storage and concessions.
Water rates rise
In December, the DeKalb County Commission approved an 11 percent annual rate increase for water and sewer users from 2012 to 2014. The rate increase will support a $1.35 billion water and sewer capital upgrade program. Along with the improvements, DeKalb County will be on the hook for a $453,000 civil penalty for sewage spills during the past five years. The county, and its water users, also will pay $600,000 for cleanup efforts in the South River, Snapfinger Creek and the south fork of Peachtree Creek.
Residents of neighborhoods north of Chamblee voted in November to be annexed into the city. With the annexations, Chamblee will grow by about half in area and add about 5,000 residents, Mayor Eric Clarkson said. The area had been governed by DeKalb County. “People wanted to be annexed because they felt like they were part of the city of Chamblee for some time now,” Clarkson said. “For their sense of community, actually living in the city will be an improvement.” Resident Nancy Duncan offered similar thoughts when asked why she decided to vote to approve the annexation. “DeKalb County is bigger than some countries,” she said. “You don’t feel you have the connection the way you do in a small town.”
The DeKalb-Peachtree Airport plan is still up in the air
DeKalb County’s approval of a federally required plan for DeKalb-Peachtree Airport stalled in 2010. The airport’s critics feared the harmless-looking plan might allow the airport to sneakily expand. The plan would allow aircraft weighing up to 75,000 pounds to regularly land at or take off from PDK. Aircraft now are limited to 66,000 pounds. Airport officials say the increase won’t make any real difference in airport operations. But members of Open DeKalb Inc., a PDK watchdog group, fear the bigger planes will mean more noise and pollution from the airport.
Changes on the county school board
The DeKalb County School Board received an injection of new blood in the November election, following the ouster over the summer of top school administrators, including the superintendent, on corruption charges. In District 1, which includes Brookhaven, newcomer Nancy Jester ousted Jim Redovian. Jester, a former financial actuarial, ran on a platform of reforming the district, which has had its accreditation threatened and is recovering from the indictments of former superintendent Crawford Lewis and former chief financial officer Patricia Reed.
Chamblee Charter High School gets money for makeover
The DeKalb County school board decided to add $58 million from federal bonds to about $11 million in sales tax collections and use the cash to pay for a complete overhaul of Chamblee Charter High School’s aging campus. The school needs the re-do. Teachers say the building has mold, rats and crowded hallways. School officials say the money should be enough to completely rebuild the school.
Town Brookhaven comes to life
Brookhaven’s biggest party of 2010 gathered for an early peek at the long-awaited Costco store at Town Brookhaven – at 146,000 square feet, the biggest Costco ever, its promoters said. More than 1,250 fans packed the Oct. 27 party and hundreds more returned the next morning when the membership warehouse store actually opened for business. “It’s like the happening place to be,” one shopper said. It also signaled that a wave of new shops and restaurants would soon pour into Town Brookhaven, a huge multi-use development that had stalled with the economy.
Cross Keys wins a couple!
It was a big year for Cross Keys High School’s football team.
The Indians defeated North Cobb Christian’s team 54-18 on Sept. 17.
One victory may not sound like much, but it was Cross Keys’ first win on the field since 2006. After the win, the Atlanta Touchdown Club named Cross Keys its “Team of the Week.”
The Indians went on to win their next game, too. They ended the season with a record of 2-7-1.