Parks Series, Day Three: Briarwood Park

A Patch series asking you, what would you like to see in our city's parks.


Brookhaven becomes a city at 12:01 am on Dec. 17, and one of the responsibilities our new municipality will be undertaking is maintenance of local parks.

A couple of weeks ago, a loyal reader suggested this idea to us: Patch could serve as a source of information for our if we asked residents, what would they like to see in our city parks?

So, for the next eight working days (Monday through Friday, Aug. 20-29), Patch will be running a series of articles asking you: what would you to see in a specific park? Maybe slides or play areas, or more picnic tables, perhaps. What about swings, monkey bars, or baseball fields? Or maybe better lighting or safer parking areas.

Our park in question for Wednesday, Aug. 22, is . So share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below, or drop us an e-mail. We'll be happy to publish it.

Rob Turner August 22, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Check out Friends of Briarwood Park at: www.facebook.com/briarwoodparkrevitalizationproject For starters: Significantly improve swimming pool, with expanded entrance (wider stairs), reworked decking, fencing (remove prison style barbed wire) landscaping buffer from apartments, pool house with concessions & modernized restrooms, and revised pool entrance. The rec center itself is almost 50 years old (one of - if not "the" - oldest in DeKalb County). Extensive improvements should include modernized meeting areas and indoor exercise facilities for cooler months. DeKalb County has failed to follow through on plans to construct a new playground since December 2011 - this despite the "DeKalb works" sign that's been in place since April. Seriously questioning whether the county will fulfill its promise in that regard. A sidewalk - with landscaped buffer - from Dew Valley Rd to Briarwood Rd will significantly improve safety for the families that walk and bike to the park. Many, many other good community suggested ideas to make this park a real showpiece for Brookhaven. Can the new city leaders do what the county commissioners have failed to do, and actually make improvements happen is the question.
Ursula August 22, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I would like to see the entrance roads to the park gated at closed hours. There are many nights that I see cars parked in front of the playground off the Briarwood Way in the cover of the night. I highly doubt they are taking in the scenery or allowing little ones to play in the dark. I feel that that spot is a haven for shady activity.
Chris Horner August 22, 2012 at 01:32 PM
In addition to facilities improvements (Rob has gotten the ball rolling nicely), I would love to see programs additions/improvements. Briarwood has (2) luxuries that many other parks do not: a true rec center and a pool. Currently there are zero programs attached to either the gym or the pool. I think an after school program centered around any number of activities (tennis, basketball, soccer, dance, swimming...) would greatly benefit the surrounding neighborhoods and serve as a hub for positive and constructive outlets for the youth in the area...the future of our city. It would also go a LONG way toward fostering the sense of community and unity that is critical to our city's success.
Joan Borchardt August 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I would love to see a dog park - a large fenced-in area where the neighborhood dogs can run off-leash. The empty lot facing Briarwood Road would be absolutely perfect! The dogs could play safely away from all of the traffic.
Paul A August 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
There was a public/private plan put forth for the pool, which needs to be in effect for summer. 2013. The close date needs to be until the weather gets colder (not Aug. 12!!). Swimming pool needs at least 2 corner stairways for access (these can be bought pre-made rather than expensive custom work). Offer swimming lessons (kids and adult) which perhaps might lead to formation of a swim team for the 12 and under set. A water aerobics class could do well since the pool is a constant depth. Agree strongly with adding the sidewalk on Briarwood Way.
Steve Walker August 22, 2012 at 03:04 PM
When we had the initial meeting, I believe back in May, Commissioner Jeff Rader stated that the new playground would be installed on the corner lot regardless of the outcome of the City Hood issue. He said that the money was allocated to Briarwood Park for the project from the Bond referendum that we have all been paying into for years as well as from community block grants. SO NUMBER ONE ON OUR LIST should be staying on top of Dekalb County and making sure they follow through. In that regard, I got the following info from Roy Wilson head of Parks & Rec. yesterday ":I just received an update from Revonda moody, Project Manager for the playground at Briarwood Park. According to Ms. Moody, the Purchasing Department still has not awarded the bid for the playground but that should occur within the next 30 days. Our ballpark figure for installation of the playground at Briarwood is by the end of December." Thank you...Roy Wilson So EVERYONE should contact the county and make sure they follow through. jrader@dekalbcountyga.gov , kgannon@dekalbcountyga.gov , and roywils@dekalbcountyga.gov Roy also invited us to call him at 404-371-2475 for immediate responses. We have been hearing the bid should be awarded within 30 days for a long time now so we need to keep the pressure on.
Steve Walker August 22, 2012 at 03:15 PM
1. County installation of promised playground and pavallion on corner lot. 2. implementation of pool area upgrades proposed by Friends of Briarwood Park / Briarwood Park Revitalization project. (like on Face Book). 3. Clear undergrowth and under story trees from area between Briarwood Way and Rec. center Parking lot and install trails and picnic tables. Safety is a big problem and clearing this area would go a long way towards a safer Park. 4. Sidewalks 5 fencing and gates to close off area when closed....Too much evil occurs after dark....again due to the overgrowth. 6. running // walking trails around entire perimeter of Park. 7 remove old playground equip. and repl with additional tennis courts. This seems to be the most used amenity at the Park. 8. Relocate pool entrance
Steve Walker August 22, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Briarwwood Park is close to or at the intersections of the City of Brookhaven Districts 2,3, and 4. As such the neighborhoods in these districts need to come together and join in with our Friends of Briarwood Park group and make it a show piece for the area and representative of what can be accomplished. It truly is a diamond in the rough and right now really rough.
Greg Trinkle August 22, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Look the politicians are going to promise you the world "There's plenty of Money.....". Bottom line this is not in district 1. So when the elections are over, and real money is tight, Briarwood is not going to be the priority for funds over Murphy Candler and Blackburn. For Briarwood to achieve its potential, it is going to take large doses of private $ and volunteer. The Friends of Briarwood park will be the ones that make a difference here.
Sara Root Hansen August 22, 2012 at 08:14 PM
As much as I hate to see trees removed, in this situation, removing the trees and brush along Briarwood Way is essential. With clear visibility to the lower park area, there’s enough traffic along Briarwood Way that crime/sketchy activity would be greatly deterred. Sidewalks to the park, and running and walking trails throughout the park would also help in that regard. As for the pool- removal of the barbwire, improvements to the patio area, and securing the hole in the fence, would help dramatically. This park has great potential to be a really lovely and functional rec area for the entire Brookhaven community!
Geoff Underwood August 23, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Sidewalk from Drew Valley and playground updates should be first priority.
MJF August 23, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I would love to see them refinish the pool with a multiple tier entry, new chairs, water feature, new fencing, better hours, and longer hours. I would still like the possibility of a public private partnership. Stay on dekalb with new state of th art playground for all ages with zip lines, sun shades, and fenced in.
Ali August 23, 2012 at 12:33 AM
A few thoughts: 1) a sidewalk on briarwood way 2) ensure that pool is going to work and be open for summer 2013, then set a schedule in off-season over a number of years to improve fence, restrooms, and other items that are identified to make space more inviting. 3) use city of Brookhaven pools (including briarwood) to start swim lessons and summer league swim teams. 4) leave the trees but clear out ivy, weeds and underbrush to create a loop trail through wooded area starting on briarwood road side down to the drew valley side. This will improve "feel" of area so that it isn't as dark and "seedy" feeling. The area is so overgrown it is creepy walking past the park on briarwood way. Also, it would give folks a place to trail run or walk. 5) improve the trail that has been started off of briarwood way that meets up with the bridge and stairs up to the rec center. The path allows a short cut for residents of drew valley instead of having to walk on the main entrance road of the park. 6) add sidewalks throughout park, similar to what is near the tennis courts. 7) add more picnic tables, not too many, but a few more strung throughout park
Brookhaven Maven August 23, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Lots of potential at this park. That's another, and more polite way of saying Briarwood has been woefully neglected for years. Am glad to see the revitalization group putting together such a detailed master plan for the park, but would offer these comments: 1) The proposed relocation of the playground to the wide open corner should be VERY carefully evaluated. If you folks read the posts for other parks, you will find that unshaded playgrounds are high on the list of people's complaints. There is NO shade on that corner. I would agree with Joan @ 9:52am that this open area might better serve as an off-leash dog park. 2) Please involve a professional arborist when clearing for sidewalks, nature trails and paths between venues. There are some beautiful understory trees growing in that central area that will naturally replace the older, taller trees as they die off. If you cut too many of the younger elms, beeches, native magnolias and other specimens from the understory, you will upset the natural order of things. Please don't destroy the single thing that makes this park peaceful and restful. 3) Regarding safety --- with the commitments made by C4ND and BrookhavenYes, there should be ample police patrol officers to take care of the riffraff y'all have been talking about. If the Brookhaven police are as aggressive as Chamblee's, they will clean ALL the parks of undesirable activites quickly. May not need to cut so many trees or install locking gates.
Brookhaven Maven August 23, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I'd also like to respond to those folks who have questioned whether the new city will do any better job at upgrading and maintaining all the city's parks, including Briarwood. Take a look at the Dunwoody parks and Brookhaven District 1 parks. Almost every major improvement has been either driven by or funded by a "Friends" group for those parks. The County has done nothing without extreme pressure, and fortunately, Dunwoody / District 1 neighbors aren't shy about applying pressure. If any of you guys posting to this forum are involved with the revitalization project, you should formalize that group. Incorporate, hold regular meetings, seek grants under your own organization's name, and hold your elected representatives at all levels accountable for promises made. That's how the Dunwoody Nature Center got to be what it is today. That's also why Murphey Candler has very nice baseball and softball facilities. The County didn't make ANY of those improvements without some very powerful lobbying by the respective Friends groups and sports leagues. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the new City of Brookhaven to come to you with an open checkbook. They are going to find out pretty quickly that maintaining and/or improving all of their new parks --- to meet citizens' expectations --- is going to cost a lot more than they have budgeted. Good luck, guys!
Ray Mariner August 23, 2012 at 02:02 PM
A) Let's take great care when cutting/clearing vegetation and preserve as much as possible with an eye on safe and green pathways. B) I think the planned playground at the corner is important with ample parking needed (shade or not). A dog run on the site of the old/current playground would be terrific! C) The improved amenities to the pool suggested above would enhance the neighborhood greatly. D) The Rec Ctr is a sad, tired structure. It could be useful for year-round youth camps/sports/classes with upgrades and improvements. E) I suggest a series of (well publicized) wknd volunteer clean-up & work dates to bring our new city together with a chance for area businesses to offer incentives and re-introduce themselves to the community.
Chris Horner August 23, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Some great ideas Ray!
JE Austin August 23, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Not sure if many know this, but 30+ years ago Briarwood Pool was open year round; it had a bubble over the pool in the colder months and the pool and bathhouses were heated. Pool hours were extended until 8:30 p.m. a few nights per week. It would be great to get a swim team started there; perhaps water aerobics as well. Concerning shade: Briarwood has lots of shaded areas and children's play areas can easily be arranged to enjoy that. HOWEVER AT ASHFORD PARK they definitely need to add some of those huge heavy duty mesh tarps over those sandpit and play areas. Dangerous curve on Briarwood Way definitely demands a sidewalk, clearing of the underbrush, and good lighting. Perhaps an events area could be created (some nice furnishings and fireplace, very small but serviceable kitchen area, attractive place for residents to host study groups, social, luncheon, dinner, or party (rental with damage dep. and a resonable rental fee). Add circular outdoor firepit and stone or maybe log circular seating. With so many budget cuts in the school system,field trips may totally disappear soon; if a secured Challenge Course was added all the schools in Brookhaven could use these areas for instruction at minimal expense, allowing many more students to participate )some park staff/some school staff could lead instruction, course always maintained, and bring oodles of exposure of park to kids and their famiies. How about some good events for seniors? Gathering/meetups? Speakers/author events?
Steve Walker August 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Lived in DV for 30 years and have never heard that before. I have had some original home owners in the neighborhood tell me that the Briarwood Pool and Rec center was originally built as a private pool for Drew Valley and was membership based and later taken over by the County.
Anand Thaker August 26, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I'd love to entertain the idea of a dog park... there are so many of us who have pets and no real good place to set them loose. Briarwood Park is a huge asset to the community especially for Districts 2, 3 and 4. We'd love to have you sign up and continue the conversation on the patch and facebook: http://www.facebook.com/briarwoodparkrevitalizationproject


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