Brookhaven-logoAn in-depth study of 10 Brookhaven parks will begin with community workshop meetings tomorrow, kicking off a fast-moving process that will produce additions to the city’s master parks plan by December.

The city’s consultant firm, GreenbergFarrow, is facilitating meetings about each park this month to gather input. And the city has appointed stakeholder committees, one from each park, that will hold their own meetings.

“We’ve asked the community to dream big,” said Liz Cole, a GreenbergFarrow project manager. “What’s important at this stage is to get on paper what people want to see.”

Brookhaven already has an overall Parks and Recreation Master Plan, but it does not include specific details for each park. Earlier this year, the Parks and Recreation Coalition of Brookhaven began a visioning process for a few parks.

The current “Site Specific Park Plans” is an outgrowth of that public demand. It covers the following parks: Ashford, Blackburn, Briarwood, Brookhaven, Clack’s Corner, Fernwood, Georgian Hills, Lynwood, Murphey Candler and Skyland. The process only covers existing parks, not proposals for new parks.

Cole said that GreenbergFarrow will gather public input about the parks’ histories, uses and improvement wish-lists. The consultants also will come with a few overarching plans, such as coordinated signage and maintenance guidelines. But the emphasis is on what makes each park special.

“What’s really dynamic about this project is the variety of these parks and the neighborhoods they sit in,” Cole said. “Each park is basically its own personality.”

By early November, the consultants will hold another round of public meetings to display a draft plan for each park.

By December, a final master plan will be delivered to the city. That doesn’t mean every suggestion will be carried out immediately. But the plan will include suggested phases of work and potential budgets.

That final plan will be a “balancing act” between GreenbergFarrow’s main park design principles, Cole said. “Parks are for people” is one principle, meaning that parks should be designed for the community’s desired uses. “Design with the land” is the other principle, meaning that those uses should fit into and protect the park’s natural landscape.

This major park planning effort is starting just as the city has lost its Parks and Recreation director, Jerry Kinsey, who is retiring and has yet to be replaced. Cole said the consultants are continuing to work with parks department staff and the city manager.

“We’ve had no problems community with the city at all…We haven’t seen a gap,” she said.

The consultant-facilitated meetings, which begin Thurs., Sept. 3, are all taking place at either the Briarwood Community Center, 2235 Briarwood Way, or the Lynwood Community Center, 3360 Osborne Road. The full meeting list is as follows:

Clack’s Corner, Thurs., Sept. 3, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Briarwood Community Center

Briarwood Park, Thurs., Sept. 3, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Briarwood Community Center

Blackburn Park, Sat., Sept. 12, 9-11 a.m., Lynwood Community Center

Brookhaven Park, Sat., Sept. 12, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Murphey Candler Park, Sat., Sept. 12, 1-3 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Lynwood Park, Mon., Sept. 14, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Fernwood Park, Mon., Sept. 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Georgian Hills Park, Wed., Sept. 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Skyland Park, Wed., Sept. 16, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

Ashford Park, Sat., Sept. 19, 9-10 a.m., Lynwood Community Center

General Park Comments, Sat., Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Lynwood Community Center

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.