The Brookhaven City Council approved two master plans and agreed to move forward in purchasing a 30-acre wilderness plot of land at PDK Airport at its Aug. 23 meeting.

Peachtree Creek Greenway
Members of the Peachtree Creek Greenway nonprofit and friends and supporters gathered for a group photo after the council’s vote to approve its master plan. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

The City Council unanimously voted to approve the Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan, the Nancy Creek Watershed Improvement master plan and to enter into an agreement with DeKalb County to purchase the airport’s green space.

“I believe this is a historic night for Brookhaven,” said Mayor John Ernst at the end of the meeting. “This has been a long time coming for these projects. I’m proud of the council and the residents. I’m looking forward to getting these plans done … and let’s keep going.”

The unanimous approval of the Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan was greeted with applause and the blowing of party horns as the council and numerous volunteers and residents in support of the plan celebrated what has been some three years in the making.

At right, Councilmember Joe Gebbia shares a hug with Betsy Eggers following the vote to approve the Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

“This is not going to be an inexpensive project, but it is going to be a statement project,” said Councilmember Joe Gebbia, who represents District 4 where the Greenway will be located. “It’s going to be a sought after trail … and the only park in the city to be an economic generator.” District 4 currently has no park land.

The entire project, designed by Heath & Linebacker Engineers and Perez Planning and Design, is estimated to cost approximately $35 million.

Gebbia said analysts have estimated the city could make $6 or $7 for every $1 spent investing on the project.

“This is a historic moment for Brookhaven,” he said of the vote.

Brookhaven’s slice of the proposed 12-mile Greenway stretches 2.7 miles along the North Fork, approximately one mile within the Century Center office complex that borders Chamblee near I-85 and Clairmont Road.

While the Greenway is getting a start in Brookhaven, the ultimate goal is a park and trail along the entire North Fork of Peachtree Creek, which runs from Mercer University in unincorporated DeKalb County to near the PATH400 trail in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood and eventually to the Atlanta BeltLine.

Betsy Eggers is thrilled with the City Council’s vote to approve the Peachtree Creek Greenway master plan and she thanked the council and the dozens and dozens of volunteers who have worked to make the plan a reality.  (Photo Dyana Bagby)

The council also approved a $19.4 million Nancy Creek Watershed Improvement master plan that will address the repair of the watershed that has been neglected for decades. Included in the plan is to eliminate trash from Murphey Candler Lake and repair the lake’s shoreline.

Residents also turned out in large numbers and applauded the City Council’s unanimous vote to move forward with the purchase of approximately 30 acres of green space land at PDK Airport once designated as the “runway protection zone.”

City Manager Christian Sigman said when he started on the job three months ago, he read over the city’s plans and noted acquiring more green space is a top priority for the City Council.

The DeKalb County airport has said the price for the wooded acreage is $5.7 million. Financing the purchase includes several possibilities, Sigman said, from payment plans with the county, grants and also possibly using $2.4 million from the May sale of Skyland Park to the DeKalb County Board of Education for a new elementary school.

Several council members agreed the purchase of the land is a multi-generational investment.

“As the concrete jungle comes from the city of Atlanta and surrounds us, our vision on the council and for residents is that this land be a green oasis,” said Councilmember John Park.

Councilmember Linley Jones said the actions by the council to approve the master plans and purchase the PDK Airport land are examples of why the city was created.“We’ve taken major steps to protect the Brookhaven way of life,” she said.

Cindy Ramirez, in front, and Leticia Arcia, students at Cross Keys High School who live in apartment units on Buford Highway and along the Peachtree Creek Greenway asked the council to consider affordable housing needs as the development grows. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

Before the vote, Ernst said when the city was able to secure a deal with the Atlanta Hawks to build its state-of-the-art practice and training facility in Brookhaven, the Peachtree Creek Greenway actually sealed the deal.

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Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.