A 30-acre plot of land at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport will be a “green oasis” for the city of Brookhaven, a place for future generations to enjoy and get away from a busy urban life.
That was the message City Council members announced as they unanimously approved to have City Manager Christian Sigman enter into negotiations to purchase the land from DeKalb County at an estimated cost of $5.7 million. The city is awaiting the county commission’s approval of the sale, according to city spokesperson Ann Marie Quill.
The future park is on Clairmont Road between 9th Street and Tobey Road. The wooded land with a creek running previously served as an emergency crash-landing zone for the airport.
City Councilmember John Park likened the purchase to those who had the foresight to envision New York City’s Central Park and Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.
“We can really shape our future and for generations to come … and I believe this is a responsible decision [to buy the land],” he said.
“Our children and their children will have a forest with a creek … and as the concrete jungle comes from the city of Atlanta and surrounds us, our vision on the council and by residents is this is to be a green oasis.”
Purchase and financing of the property includes several possibilities, Sigman said, from payment plans with the county, federal and state 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.
Councilmember Bates Mattison supported buying the property, but said he opposed using any stormwater funds to finance the land.
“We’ve been talking about his property for a long time. Some say we should use stormwater funds … but we have flooding problems,” he said. “If we buy this, let’s not raid our stormwater fund.”
“We have the opportunity now to buy the land and should not let it escape us. But we do need further discussion on how to pay for it,” Mattison said. “We don’t have a line item for green space. We have to be fiscally prudent.”
Councilmember Joe Gebbia said Sigman has numerous options to buy and finance the land and that the clock is ticking on buying the “pristine” piece of property for the city.
“This is a very unique opportunity for Brookhaven,” he said. “This is a multigenerational decision.”
Councilmember Linley Jones said the actions by the council to approve the Peachtree Creek Greenway Master plan 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.
Before the vote, former councilmember Jim Eyre spoke against the city buying the land and instead, use money to improve the city’s current parks. He also accused Park of possibly benefiting from the purchase because his home is located near the property. Eyre asked Park to recuse himself from the vote.
Park said he “searched his heart really hard” and, although his home is adjacent to the PDK property, he said he has no financial conflict of interest and declined to recuse himself. He said he sought the city attorney’s advice, and also said because a stream acts as a buffer between his house and the property, his property values will not increase, according to appraisal.
“I hope this puts this issue to rest,” Park said.