Brookhaven city officials have launched an effort to plan a revival of the Buford Highway corridor through the city.

Bruce Whitmer, a member of the steering committee working on the city’s proposed new Buford Highway Improvement Plan and Economic Development Strategy, said the idea was to develop “a thoughtful, conscious plan to improve the economic wellbeing and the lifestyles of the community that surround Buford Highway, both residential and commercial.”

The nine-member steering committee and consultants will work to develop over the next five months a plan for the redevelopment of the three miles of Buford Highway that runs through Brookhaven, city officials said during a project kick-off meeting at Brookhaven City Hall on March 21.

“I think with the proper plan, in the long term, great improvements can be made,” Whitmer said after the meeting. “You’ve got to start somewhere.”

Members of the steering committee, the city said, are: Whitmer, chairman Luke Anderson, Bridget O’Donnell, Todd McKinney, Gilanny Fagundo, Susan Coker, Pat Hoban, Garry Sovel and Chris Steglien.

Suggestions during their two-hour kickoff meeting ranged from creating a special tax district in the area to pay for road improvements to adding city “gateways” where Buford Highway enters the city and installing a streetscape that could be identified as unique to Brookhaven to changing the busy road’s name within Brookhaven to something like “Buford Boulevard.”

City Manager Marie Garrett said the plan would be an “integral part” of future development of the city. “I really looking for a plan that can be implemented,” she said.

Committee members said they also wanted to build on the diversity of the residents who live in the area.

Fagundo, chairwoman of the Georgia Hispanic Bar, said she “would love to have the Buford Highway corridor serve as a gateway for the city and, at the same time, be celebrated for its diversity.”

City Councilman Joe Gebbia, one of three council members who attended the meeting, said he wanted to “set the bar high” for the plan.

“We’re going to be doing things that will have an impact for the next 20 to 50 years,” he said.

The plan is one of several being drawn up by the city. City officials also are launching efforts to develop a city master plan, a parks plan and a transportation plan, Garrett said.

A public meeting to gather reaction on the Buford Highway plan is scheduled in June and a draft of the plan is to be posted on city’s website in July. The final proposal is to be presented to Brookhaven City Council in August.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.