“It's about bringing back a sense of community and getting to know everyone," Nextdoor Senior City Strategist Robbie Turner, an Atlanta native who grew up on Pharr Road, said at the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting Thursday night at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.
With a small staff of 30 people, Nextdoor started in October 2011 and has more than 2,800 neighborhoods in 48 states plus Washington, D.C. plugged in.
So far, Turner said there are 997 households part of Nextdoor in Buckhead.
Council chair Jim King introduced the network to his Chastain Park neighborhood in February and said there are more than 700 people using it now.
Turner said the newest Next Door venture for Buckhead is a Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods page, which will be able to connect with the 13 neighborhoods in the community.
“The hope would be that all the directors on the council would join, then communicate with each other,” King said. “In Chastain, it’s funny because I set it up to encourage it and I had a lot of people who were reluctant.”
However, he said those who doubted Nextdoor at first became the most active members in the community. In fact, he said the issue with a potential night club forming on Roswell Road was initially discussed on Nextdoor.
“My folks got really active,” he said. “They got completely organized in private and we were able to keep it a restaurant right now.”
Aside from handling those sorts of issues, Nextdoor helps communities share tips and recommendations for doctors, plumbers, babysitters and other neighborhood knowledge. People also post local events and volunteer opportunities.
However, residents naturally voiced concern regarding internet privacy.
Turner said Nextdoor information is securely encrypted using HTTPS protocol and will never show up on a Google search engine.
"We are doing everything we can to make sure people feel comfortable sharing information," she said. "We take safety and security very seriously."
For example, the Nextdoor staff scans every area for sex offenders weekly and excludes their addresses from all neighborhoods in the network.
In other news, Georgia Department of Transportation members discussed conflicting Buckhead traffic projects.
“The good news is we have projects; the bad news is the timing,” King said.
Two major construction projects will begin this summer: the Northside Drive water main installations and the new Buckhead Amtrak station parking lot which will close Deering Road.
Buckhead residents are worried about the increased traffic and neighborhood congestion, and wonder why the construction projects can not be staggered instead of happening simultaneously.
According to officials with GDOT, it is a money issue.
Fiscal 2012 funds must be authorized before June 30 and has to be spent one month after, said Rachel Brown, district engineer for metro Atlanta.
In other words, they will not wait to begin the projects because they would rather "capture fiscal money of 2012" instead of using funds from 2013's fiscal budget. The GDOT members said this would be "moving money" and create future financial problems in construction.
"We realize this impacts your life and the way you live," Brown said. "We're trying to get it done as fast as we can. We want to get the projects done and get out of your life."