Robert Sarkissian, who lives next door to the new park at 519 Old Ivy, says the green space is needed.
Robert Sarkissian, who lives next door to the new park at 519 Old Ivy, says the green space is needed.

A couple of years ago, Denise Starling spotted a problem at one point on the route being considered for PATH400.

As executive director of Livable Buckhead, Starling was looking at where the planned bike-and-pedestrian trail would go as it ran alongside Ga. 400. A problem arose where the trail would meet Old Ivy Road. It made a T intersection.

“I was looking at it from a parent’s perspective and thinking, ‘I’ve got a kid who thinks he’s competent on his bike and he’s not, and … yes, he’d go right off into the road,’” she recalled recently, sitting in her Buckhead office. “We wanted a curve.”

At the site, she stood where the trail would hit the street, trying to imagine a safe intersection. When she looked up the hill, she got a pleasant surprise. The house next door was for sale. “Why didn’t we think of that?” she said.

They bought the house. Problem solved. The trail could make its turn on a piece of the less-than-an-acre lot the house sat on. And as part of the deal, north Buckhead residents got a new city park. A small park, but a new spot of publicly owned greenery in the middle of a part of Atlanta that has been publicly identified as home to too few parks.

“It ended up being the perfect solution,” Starling said.

Livable Buckhead bought the property for about $594,000 and then turned around and sold it to the city of Atlanta, Starling said. Now, the house is demolished, and neighbors on Old Ivy are helping the nonprofit group design a new neighborhood pocket park at 519 Old Ivy.

“It’s a great idea,” said Robert Sarkissian, who lives at 515 Old Ivy, next door to the new park, and is a member of the 22-person committee debating what to include in the park. “It’s needed. I think it will greatly heighten the livability of the neighborhood here.”

Sarkissian thinks the lot, which now is overgrown, eventually could offer a playground and perhaps a picnic area and an adult workout area. It also could provide a green spot to sit beneath shade trees and admire views of nearby high-rises, he said.

“Surprisingly, there are some pretty nice views of offices on Peachtree,” he said. “You can just sit there and be amazed that you’re sitting in a wooded area and have a skyline in front of you.”

Walking through the overgrown lot one recently hot afternoon, Sarkissian pointed out an area that could be used for shady picnic tables. “Parents could sit up here and watch their kids [on a playground] over there,” he said, pointing to a level area in the sun a few dozen feet away.

Starling said the committee also is considering including public art in the little park, which now is known only as 519 Old Ivy, its address. The steering committee will continue to meet to plan the park and public meetings will be scheduled, probably in September and October, to solicit comment on the plans.

“It’s completely unfunded at this point,” Starling said. “The idea is to create the vision so we can go ask people for money for it. What most people were talking about is a neighborhood park – nothing that would be a regional attraction. …
“It’s a really nice space.”

Sarkissian agrees. “It’s a wonderful location,” he said. “It just makes so much more sense now that PATH400 is built. Our whole family is for it. We think it will add to the value of our entire block.”

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.