Brookhaven City Councilmember Madeleine Simmons is pitching a new library site as a possible resolution to a years-long disagreement with DeKalb County, which initially planned to put it at Brookhaven Park.
During a Sept. 21 town hall, Simmons and DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader discussed using a 2.5-acre plot owned by the city at 1623 North Druid Hills Road near the intersection of Lenox Park Boulevard. The plot, across the street from Cross Keys High School, is currently green space and covered with trees.
Rader had some doubts about whether that plot would be viable and said some planning has already started at Brookhaven Park.
“The biggest challenge is the geometry of the driveway that would allow access to the library on that site,” said Rader about the potential 1623 North Druid Hills location during the meeting.
Right now, the library is at 1242 North Druid Hills Road, and Rader said that location would be too small to have adequate parking.
The county has some money saved to build the library, Rader said, but those funds are not enough to also buy land in the city for the building. The library has been in the works since around 2005 before Brookhaven incorporated.
It was first proposed at the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA Station site as part of a redevelopment that did not happen, and then at Brookhaven Park, but city officials said residents would rather save the park’s green space than put the library there.
The county has about $4.5 million allocated for the library, Rader said, which is not even enough for the new building, which he estimated would cost $6 million to $7 million.
Simmons said the newly proposed corner location would be a good solution to the county’s funding problem. Brookhaven Park is owned half by the city and half by the county, and the city has been trying to purchase the county’s side for the past couple years. If the county sold that land, the library would be fully funded, Simmons said.
“If the city could help the county find a new location for the library, we can move forward with the purchase,” Simmons said.
Rader said he had concerns about creating a crossing to get into the library site at the 1623 North Druid Hills location, but City Manager Christian Sigman said there’s also a back entrance to the lot that could be used.
The county has started some space planning to put the library at Brookhaven Park, Rader said.
“Up to this date, we have heard where the City Council does not want to see it, but we haven’t seen where they would like to see it,” Rader said. “Right now, it is the intention of the county to move forward with the Brookhaven Park site. It is a decision that could potentially be rethought.”
Last year, the DeKalb County Library Board of Trustees wrote a letter to the city saying it wanted to build the new library at 4518 Peachtree Road, the back portion of Brookhaven Park owned by the city.
Rader said he would want to ask the board before deciding on a new location.