By Mary Margaret Stewart, contributor
For the past three years, an advocacy group has been urging Brookhaven’s government to help develop “a multipurpose linear park along the North Fork of Peachtree Creek.”
Brookhaven’s 2.7-mile trail would be a part of the proposed Peachtree Creek Greenway.
According to the draft master plan:
“The 2.7 mile-Peachtree Creek Greenway is located along the North Fork within the City of Brookhaven, approximately one mile within the Century Center office complex. Beyond the Peachtree Creek Greenway, the park will continue southwest into Fulton County to connect with the Beltline, located approximately 1.5 miles away. … The greenway will be the first significant in-town park along a waterway where commercial zonings already exist, making it primed for restaurants and mixed use development.”
Chamblee, DeKalb County and Doraville are also part of the Greenway planning process. If the Greenway is completed, it will be more 12 miles of continuous trail, including Brookhaven’s portion, that will have a connection to the Beltline. The proposed Greenway covers an area stretching from just outside of I-285, roughly following I-85 and joining the south fork of Peachtree Creek.
Anne Marie Quill, Communications Manager for the City of Brookhaven, said that the draft master plan, which is “very early in the stages” will be presented to city council to view on Aug. 9. The City Council will not vote on it yet, but will be able to give suggestions for improvements.
The draft can be found at http://brookhavenga.gov/home/showdocument?id=4628.
City officials, like Quill, value the idea of a multi-use trail in Brookhaven.
“Our city promotes walkability, and greenways are obviously a big part of that. We see it as something that will connect Brookhaven to the Beltline,” Quill said. “Obviously not directly, but people would be able to get on the greenway and get on the Beltline from here.”
Betsy Eggers, founder and Board Chair of Peachtree Creek Greenway, Inc., since 2013 has been a part of making the “multi-municipality effort” happen.
“The beauty is that it is a multi-use trail that will connect people to businesses, schools and parks, with trees and green space for public use,” Eggers said. “It will improve public health and transportation, and give children safe places to ride their bikes.”
Brookhaven’s portion of the trail will include “model miles,” meaning a small portion of the trail will be finished and open to the public, Eggers said. People will be able to explore and stop to eat at restaurants along the way.
Eggers also said that land in and around the creek will be improved. When the public sees the pollution, trash, tires and random car parts, she believes that people will want to take action and “together, improve.”
“Cities cannot do this alone. They need people who show up and care and to show the city how it’s in their best interest,” Eggers said. “We had to be at many, many meetings with the city.”
While Eggers’ group has fought for support many times, she said the Beltline introduced people to “what having a multi-use trail can do for the economy.”
Areas that seem disconnected from public transportation and trails, such as Regal Cinemas at North I-85, Corporate Square and several Atlanta hotels will connect to the new trail and ultimately to the Beltline, she said.
In addition, the QuikTrip on US 23 North agreed to build a sidewalk during its rezoning process because of efforts of Peachtree Creek Greenway.
“As an organization, we brought the people, and we were there when they were rezoning. This sidewalk will connect Buford Highway to the trail,” Eggers said.
Eggers said that this step towards integration will be a “huge boost” for Buford Highway’s families’ quality of life. However, Buford Highway isn’t the only area open to change.
“We have focused on the city of Brookhaven because it’s a new city,” she said. “The ground is fertile in a new city. This would be a legacy for Brookhaven.”
Eggers said many people aren’t as familiar with what Brookhaven has to offer.
“I didn’t even know there was a river. I never even thought about what was under the bridge, but it’s pretty amazing,” Eggers admitted. “In the future, how cool would it be to kayak in the Perimeter?”
Eggers said the Brookhaven City Council’s approval is crucial.
“The City Council’s decision will make or break this project,” Eggers said. “Three-years’ worth of work will come to its pinnacle.”