A rendering of Brookhaven’s new public safety building.

A recent article in Rough Draft/Reporter Newspapers gave highlights, but did not capture the full story about Brookhaven’s Public Safety Building: Brookhaven’s public safety building: over budget and out of time.

The headline boldly proclaims that Brookhaven’s Public Safety Building is “over budget and out of time.” This sensational announcement surely achieves its objective of drawing a reader in, but offers negligible context to inform residents about what the project is all about and why these changes have happened. Without this context, one can easily draw erroneous conclusions about what is going on.

Currently, Brookhaven Police and Municipal Court are crammed in a building which was never intended to be used for law enforcement purposes. The new facility will feature state-of-the-art functionality specially designed for public service and room to grow for the Brookhaven Police Department (BPD) and Municipal Court. It is twice the size of the present building and will have three times the parking. The building is a vital component to maintaining Brookhaven’s commitment to its residents having the best police protection possible.

Having said that, it has been an inordinately complicated project. To address the present and foreseeable future needs of our Public Safety officers, simply finding a place to put it took almost two years. The location that was ultimately selected, at the more centrally located trailhead of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, had some unique issues as it pertained to the granite outcropping and stormwater management.  Notably, the construction site had to be situated away from the Georgia Power high-voltage transmission lines to a site with a 95-foot drop in topography that had to be leveled before construction could begin.

In terms of the environment, Brookhaven is unapologetically mindful to ecological and fiscal sustainability in sticking with the design of the largest geo-thermal project of its kind in the state of Georgia. In a nutshell, the building will be heated and cooled from the Earth itself – clean, unlimited and free. The building will be outfitted with high-efficiency glass windows, and the Georgia Power EV charging stations will be available for public use.

So, the project was a tall order to begin with. Admittedly, when compared to the initial construction estimates in June, 2019, costs did exceed original expectations. So what happened?

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.  

In March 2020, COVID changed the world. Nearly all construction projects in America screeched to a halt. After an eighteen-month delay, nearly all construction projects experienced substantial cost increases and extensive delays due to supply chain issues. In Brookhaven, the Peachtree Road/Ashford Dunwoody intersection was also affected. The lingering effects of these supply shortages are still being felt today.

The article completely omits this important context which provides a simple and reasonable explanation of why things are the way that they are now.  

This kind of information is important for residents to know as Brookhaven begins other capital projects, such as the new City Hall building to be located at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station.

Still in the public input and design process, Brookhaven City Hall is shaping up to be an iconic, community gathering place that will similarly be constructed to address the future needs of the city and its community – and will be a difficult project to complete.  The strategic location on a heavy rail mass transit line is a long-term approach to addressing traffic issues and is the only City Hall facility in Georgia so situated. 

Over the past year, residents have indicated the community’s visual preferences and strong support for the planned community spaces that will bring people together. The current design includes an atrium and event space. Almost two-thirds of the building is dedicated to public space, which will include a coffee shop, atrium, and rooftop terrace and to allow for community movie nights, pop up artist markets, live music, holiday events, etc., while affording beautiful views of Brookhaven, Buckhead, and Stone Mountain.

Once completed, the City will realize an immediate annual savings of $350,000 from not having to pay rent at its current city hall location. One of the benefits of selecting The Sizemore Group for architecture and project management firm is that it reduces the potential for construction surprises. The Sizemore Group was previously selected to analyze and develop the space requirements for our new City Hall, which provided a “value-add” to the process of having an architect who was intimately familiar with the City’s needs. 

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. For a local government, it means fulfilling the mandates of the people it serves as efficiently as possible, which is to say, the best possible product or service at the best possible price. As it pertains to the projects that affect all residents, current and future, it is incumbent that we all do what we can to ensure that all relevant information is available.

Councilmember John Funny represents Brookhaven's 4th District.