Briarwood Park Meeting Calls For Formation Of Local Groups

Briarwood Park meeting draws neighbors from all over to discuss future plans for the Park

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.

Rob Turner June 26, 2012 at 02:25 PM
The meeting was helpful and it will be good to see the "Friends of Briarwood Park" group come together sooner, rather than later. It was unclear from last night's meeting what is the timing and who will help coalesce the community to "organize" a single 'Friends Of' group. The county seems clear that it prefers a single group to act as a community contact for the park. We, as interested neighbors and Brookhaven residents, will have to undertake this task on our own. From my perspective, time is of the essence with organizing the 'Friends Of' group. In the mean time, I encourage everyone that has not already done so to see the Briarwood Park Revitalization Park page on Facebook that several neighbors and I have put together: http://www.facebook.com/BriarwoodParkRevitalizationProject My friends and I are tired of the county's in-action and put this page together to ignite some healthy discussion and - hopefully soon - real and material action by DeKalb County to significantly improve and redevelop the park.
Rob Turner June 26, 2012 at 02:26 PM
A few points from the article that I believe need further context and clarification relate to: 1) referenced 2001 "master plan" and 2) the pace at which DeKalb County has acted at this park. 1) The "master plan" is a conceptual rendering that was put together by Third Millennium Development. The 2001 plan that the county used last night as a benchmark for its recent progress is 11 YEARS OLD! The conceptual renderings for proposed improvements on the FB page above contain more detail than this 2001 plan. 2) DeKalb County moves at an extremely slow pace regarding Briarwood Park. Since the May 5, 2012 meeting, it took the county nearly 7 weeks to schedule the meeting last night - and a key take away from last night was that more meetings are needed. There was even talk from CEO Ellis's chief of staff that Mr. Ellis wants to come back to the park in the next month to 6 weeks (a follow up from his May 5 meeting). Aside from follow through (which is appreciated) we need to ask what will be the purpose of Mr. Ellis's meeting? Back to the pace of progress, I found it very telling that both the DeKalb County officials and Park Pride were clear to emphasize last night how "slow" we should expect progress to occur (why is this acceptable?!?).
Rob Turner June 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I encourage all of you to contact the DeKalb County officials below and let them hear from YOU about your thoughts on Briarwood Park, the status quo not being acceptable and a call for an actionable and material redevelopment plan with specific dates and allocated funds. Commissioner Jeff Rader: jrader@dekalbcountyga.gov Commissioner Kathie Gannon: kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov CEO Burrell Ellis: Burrell@BurrellEllis.com or CEO@dekalbcountyga.gov DeKalb County Parks Director Roy Wilson: roywils@dekalbcountyga.gov DeKalb County COO for Infrastructure Ted Rhinehart: werhinehart@dekalbcountyga.gov
Steve Walker June 26, 2012 at 03:03 PM
In six weeks CEO Eliis may no longer be CEO Ellis........
Steve Walker June 26, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Third Millennium Devp. is the group that bought the old Kiddie Ranch daycare on the corner lot and then traded the the lot to the County for Briarwood Parks baseball fields in order to build their Condo's. Part of that trade was to be the build out of the Park onto that corner......Eleven years later........Nothing to date..........


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