The future of is looking a little clearer after officials from DeKalb County and Park Pride Monday night.
DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader opened the meeting by acknowledging the county wants to meet the needs of the community with long-awaited park improvements.
"If we try to make decisions on your behalf we might not get the priorities right, we might not get it done quick enough and we certainly won't build the type of community support that is necessary in this day and time to get things done," said Rader.
Briarwood Park is finally seeing some progress with that had been part of a Master Plan for renovations since 2001. Recent improvements include an , easier access in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a new ceiling and paint in the recreation area and the addition of some tables with umbrellas and chairs.
The next phase of the plan includes the removal of the playground from the current secluded location and relocating it to the corner of Briarwood Road and Briarwood Way. New playground equipment, a pavilion and parking spaces are all part of the plan, which should begin construction around the third week of July with an estimated completion date of December 1.
Rader also discussed the value in having neighborhood involvement in building up and supporting Briarwood Park.
"We are composed of a lot different viewpoints from various neighborhood associations and other constituencies and we need to make sure everyone feels like they have a seat at the table and as we make decisions we need to make sure all of those voices are heard," Rader said.
Park Pride, an independent organization separate from DeKalb County, works with local neighborhoods and the county to form Friends Of The Park groups, allowing involvement at the local level for specific parks.
Ayanna Williams, director of community building for Park Pride, encouraged those in attendance to form a strong group that would have deeper involvement in creating a better neighborhood park.
"Projects can be tackled by a Friend Of The Park group, working in conjunction with the county, they can raise money, they can petition for approval to take on projects," said Williams.
Beginning in the fall of 2012 Park Pride will be offering matching grants to Friends Of The Park groups that raise money for specific needs, from $5,000 to $40,000, allowing some local control over how money is being spent.
If Brookhaven becomes a city they would have to approach Park Pride and discuss entering into a contract with them to continue their involvement in Briarwood Park, as right now they have a contract only with DeKalb County.
Sentiments ran strong in favor of forming a Friend Of The Park group, with the overlying feeling being that something has to be done to keep the forward momentum going.
"This community needs a Friends of Briarwood Park," said Kim Gokce, President of the Cross Keys Foundation. "We will have one one way or another, and there are enough people that feel that way, and this is stuff we should be doing now."
The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for sometime in mid-August with CEO Burrell Ellis.