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Column: New year means more parks in area
by Thornton Kennedy
Northside Neighbor Columnist
January 02, 2013 12:52 PM | 2458 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
Ah, the sweetness of a new year.

The possibilities are endless; change is a given and in 365 days we will be much improved human beings. This is the time to take stock and set our sights on what we want to accomplish in the coming year. For Buckhead and Sandy Springs, at the top of the agenda is more park space.

The lack of parks in both communities is well known. Atlanta City Council’s District 7, which encompasses north Buckhead, Garden Hills and Lenox Square, has the least amount of greenspace among the city’s 12 council districts while having the distinction of being one of the largest.

Sandy Springs has fought and scrapped for every inch of greenspace it can find over the years with some success, but the city continues to be woefully underserved in terms of parks. After standing pat over the last five years, owing to the nuclear economic meltdown, both are promising dramatic changes that will begin in earnest in 2013. If these initiatives are even partially completed, the effect will be historic and lasting.

The city of Sandy Springs will begin this month to acquire property for a new 16-acre city center along Roswell Road and bordered by Johnson Ferry Road, Sandy Springs Circle and Mount Vernon Highway. It was home to a Target and a Goodwill over the years. More significantly for me personally, it is home to the Sandy Springs Waffle House, where I spent many a night as a teenager. The intersection already serves as the heart of the community.

To build a new city center there, with a city hall, performing arts venue and, most significantly, greenspace, has to be the most visionary plans undertaken by a government entity in quite some time. In Buckhead, nothing can be better than the promise of finally filling the hole in the earth left by the former Streets of Buckhead project (now Buckhead Atlanta).

OliverMcMillan, the San Diego-based development company that has taken over the project, has filed permits for more than 1 million square feet of retail, multi-family and office space and is sure to move forward this year. More exciting than that project are the plans for more park space. One idea floated late last year was to create a picturesque 5-acre park on the corner of Roxboro and East Paces Ferry roads behind Lenox Square.

Meanwhile, Denise Starling and Livable Buckhead are developing the backbone of a new Buckhead park system, the 400 Greenway. An almost 5-mile, $16 million trail that would transform the passive green area along Ga. 400 connecting the north Buckhead, Peachtree Park and Lindmont LaVista neighborhoods into a walkable trail, the assemblage would also link many Buckhead communities to the Atlanta Beltline.

Adding all of this up means 2013 could be a banner year for parks. The motto for every new year is to get better and be better. Buckhead and Sandy Springs are well on their way.

We’ll check back in 364 days to see how they did.

Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at

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