Brookhaven officials cut a red ribbon Dec. 12 to officially open the “model mile” of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, the first stretch of a linear park and multiuse path that is envisioned to stretch 12 miles and connect the city to Atlanta, Chamblee, unincorporated DeKalb County and Doraville.

Mayor John Ernst and the City Council cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the first phase of the city’s portion of the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

Mayor John Ernst told the crowd of more than 100 people who attended the ceremony that the plan is for someone to be able to get on a bike in Brookhaven, ride on the Greenway to the Atlanta BeltLine, then to the Silver Comet Trail and then to Alabama.

“This used to be called the miracle mile because people thought it would take a miracle to get this thing done,” Ernst said of the first leg that opened between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road.

The ribbon-cutting fell on the one-year anniversary of the groundbreaking ceremony. There are more anniversaries to be had, Ernst said.

“This is just a point in time, just one … and I know in a few years well be digging in the dirt again and connecting that path, so let’s get to it,” he said.

Councilmember Linley Jones said in the late 1980s she lived in a Buford Highway apartment complex that could be seen in the distance from where the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place.

She said she and her neighbors lived at the back of the complex where rent was cheaper. The reason the rent was cheaper was because the apartments were closest to the creek that back then was dark, overgrown and dirty, she said.

Mayor John Ernst addresses the crowd at the grand opening ceremony.

“The one thing we had in common was that we were here because we had to be, not because we wanted to be,” she said. “Today we are here because we want to be, and I hope all future generations who live [there] are there because they want to be and get to be.”

Councilmember Joe Gebbia, whose district includes south Brookhaven, said the Greenway is the first park for the area and its economic and community impact is expected to be significant.

“What’s its going to spark is just going to be amazing,” he said.

Numerous people and organizations are responsible for the completing the first mile, he said, and he especially thanked the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army, whose regional headquarters is adjacent to the Greenway, donated land that is used for a trailhead off North Druid Hills Road.

Special recognition was also given to the nonprofit Peachtree Creek Greenway organization that has advocated for its construction since before the city’s incorporation in 2012. Gebbia thanked Betsy Eggers, chair of the organization, and board members Sarah K. Kennedy and Meredith O’Connor.

“We’re just ecstatic,” Eggers said after the ceremony as she prepared to ride her bike.

“To think this creek was just a nasty, dumped-on, trash location,” she said. “But now it’s not just usable, it is joyful.”

Photos Dyana Bagby

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