As if 2020 could not be a bigger disappointment, on Aug. 11, Brookhaven City Councilwoman Linley Jones issued her anticipated “Update on Murphey Candler Park” confirming that she has drawn a line in the sand refusing to represent her constituents’ concerns on changes slated for the park. Using phrases like, “I have worked to address these concerns,” “eco-friendly gravel [parking spots],” and “[th]ese improvements will have a … positive impact on the park … and the neighborhood,” Jones asserts that she has done her job.

But take a stroll through Murphey Candler and chat with park neighbors, and you will quickly understand that nothing could be further from the truth. Homeowners are fed up with Jones’s lack of responsiveness to concerns about opening the East Loop Road to traffic and parking.

Jones justifies the city of Brookhaven’s plans by repeating that the park bond passed with a 60% majority. Yet, she fails to acknowledge that from the beginning of the planning process, residents warned that the Loop Road should not be opened to traffic. Even the 2015 Reporter story, which Jones cites, documents resident concern for public safety and security should the Loop Road be opened to traffic.

Brookhaven’s disregard for public input goes so far as to keep the parks bond Citizen Oversight Committee in the dark about any opposition to the park plans. The committee has not met since February and Brookhaven is shielding its members from community opposition by controlling the flow of information.

After park neighbors again voiced concerns about opening the loop road, Brookhaven removed the gates to the internal park road without any notice. Now, day and night, cars drive through without any warning to pedestrians.

Frustrated by Jones’s and Brookhaven’s blind eye toward community concerns about public safety and more, the Murphey Candler Neighborhood Association (MCNA) is rallying. The MCNA is opposed to allowing vehicles to drive in and park on the East Loop Road. This is where our children learn to ride their bikes and we escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Murphey Candler Park is a gem, a forested oasis in metro Atlanta. With a combination of wetlands, creeks, lake and forest, Murphey Candler Park is home to hundreds of species of fish, wildlife and birds, all within a stone’s throw from the South’s largest business, commercial and medical centers. The uniqueness of our park should be celebrated and protected.

Given the little support we have received from Jones and Brookhaven to date, we are concerned the city will disregard the neighbors’ preferences for the planned community center, too. The MCNA desires the new community center be limited to the existing footprint of the scout hut; the building programs should be limited by the available parking and to an outdoor overlook and multi-purpose room; that there be no net loss of trees; and that the city share with taxpayers how it intends to provide sufficient funds for the long-term maintenance of the community center.

Zane Douglass
President, Murphey Candler Neighborhood Association

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