Many of you have told me that parks are a priority for residents of District 2 in DeKalb County, and I agree! Our district has the highest population density of any Commission District and regrettably, the lowest acreage of park land per capita. It seems society was more focused on private green space when our neighborhoods were taking shape, and our community recreational clubs are among the most attractive in the region. But over my tenure, I’ve sought to add acreage to our inventory, responding to public interest in acquiring the largest remaining undeveloped tract in District 2 at Briarlake Forest, and also neighborhood pocket parks in areas throughout the district. Here’s a rundown of activity from the past year.
I’m thrilled that we were able to acquire two new parks from the DeKalb County School System: the old playground from Margaret Harris School on Knob Hill Drive and Rehoboth Playground on Tolbert Drive. The Knob Hill land is open and graded flat, and is adjacent to additional County land on Briarcliff Rd. There is the potential to connect these parks. The Rehoboth site has a play structure, pavilion and athletic court in addition to a large woodlot. Each measure about two acres. Friends of Parks organizations are forming to master plan these parcels; you can contact our office for more information.
Here’s a rundown of some other improvements to our parks system:
Springbrook – The incredible efforts of the Friends of Springbrook Park continue to transform this neighborhood jewel. The park is the result of neighborhood advocacy that turned a vacant lot to a center of the community. This past year, with grant and county matching funds, Springbrook installed a pollinator garden, play equipment, and other park improvements. https://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/parks/friends-park and https://www.facebook.com/SpringbrookParkGA/
Zonolite – We’ve constructed a new pavilion along with new trails and a bridge at Zonolite Park to complement the environmental restoration and expanding connections championed by the Southfork Conservancy. There are great community gardening opportunities there. Call our office if you’re interested in a plot. http://nickelbottomgarden.com/
Mason Mill –The long-anticipated extension of the PATH system from the DeKalb Tennis Center Trailhead to North Druid Hills Road at Spring Creek Drive was completed, with a spectacular Boardwalk winding through the treetops and wetlands. Later, we opened a link skirting Clairmont Place retirement community to link Mason Mill waterworks to Emory’s Clairmont Campus. A budget amendment funded a Park Naturalist, who has already started to provide programming in the contiguous Mason Mill/Medlock/Ira Melton parks, and who will also serve as a steward of these parks, insuring attention to maintenance and service needs. Jonah McDonald ([email protected]) will be a uniformed presence, often on bicycle, so if you see him, say hello! https://www.dekalbcountyga.gov/parks/mason-mill-park and https://www.facebook.com/friendsofmasonmillpark/
Briarlake Forest – Our strong Friends organization has directed County investments in paths, parking, and other amenities. Aggressively pursuing grant opportunities, Briarlake Forest has made the most of County matching dollars. Demolition and removal of ruined structures north of Amberwood Rd. will permit the extension of improvements there. District 7 has committee $150,000 to further improvements to convert the site of the Homeplace into a pavilion with patio and other amenities evocative of the history of this unique site. Earlier this month, Briarlake Forest was recognized as an Audubon Bird Sanctuary. www.briarlakeforestpark.com
Pendergrast – last summer, funding was committed for Phase 2 to include water meter, water line and hose bibb, demolition, grading and drainage and a parking lot. Survey work has been completed and we are working toward implementation. https://www.facebook.com/Pendergrastpark/
Frazier Rowe – Another strong group of Friends at Frazier Rowe continue to improve the park, adding playground equipment, extending trails, and negotiating an access easement to Coralwood Dr. with the DeKalb County Schools. The Friends of Frazier Rowe also maintain an extensive calendar of programs from sing alongs to historical interpretation. An additional land purchase has permitted a pavilion project to be expanded to include parking and access to LaVista Rd, along with associated drainage improvements. http://frazier-rowepark.weebly.com/
LaVista Park – Like many of DeKalb’s parks, LaVista Park is defined by the stream that flows through it. While Wild Creek provides a wonderful environmental feature, management of floodwaters and sediment are a constant priority. Funds from SPLOST will restore the weir at the corner of Brook Forest and Wild Creek Trail, and remove the silt that intensifies flooding upstream.
WD Thomson – drainage is also a challenge here, but SPLOST funds will likewise repair a spillway and complement the work of Friends to clear invasives and stabilize the streambank. Tennis courts will also be resurfaced via SPLOST. http://lavistapark.org/friends-of-lavista-park/
OLPA/Deepdene – This unique forested segment of the Olmsted Linear Park system has been hit hard by storms in the past year, and DeKalb is working to repair damaged infrastructure and remove downed trees. Further work to refresh footpaths, rehabilitate bridges, and reset stream crossing stepping stones will supplement the incredible contributions of the Olmsted Linear Park Alliance to maintain the park in top conditions. A special thanks to our state legislators who helped insure that GDOT drainage improvements along Ponce de Leon will respect the park’s historic character and reduce the impact of floodwaters. https://atlantaolmstedpark.org/park-tour/
As the weather warms, springtime will invite us all to enjoy the outdoors more. Please renew your acquaintance with District 2’s park system, and with the neighborhood organizations that support them. Keep your ideas and priorities coming to us as we work to polish these natural assets to meet your recreational needs.