Brookhaven, GA, December 12, 2016 – by Larry Felton Johnson for The Post – Talking about an idea he has that involves potentially relocating the DeKalb County Services Center currently located in Brookhaven Park, Councilman Bates Mattison raised the possibility during a community input meeting Saturday, of striking a deal that would give Brookhaven control of the entire park, not just the rear parcel the city is currently working to create a Master Plan for.
Mattison says currently, part of the reason the city can’t get their hands on the front portion of Brookhaven Park’s some 21-acres, is that DeKalb County doesn’t have the money or doesn’t have appropriations to fund the construction of a new building in a new location or to move the center somewhere else.
Mattison’s idea would be to work with the County to relocate the service center to the Peachtree-DeKalb (PDK) greenspace the city is currently working to purchase on Clairmont Rd., at its appraised value of $5.7 million. He stressed that it was only an idea at this point, but could create a win-win situation for Brookhaven and DeKalb County. He says in talking with the service center staff, in a perfect world, they’d want to be a little more central to where their clients are coming from – perhaps a little closer to Toco Hills or central DeKalb.
With Councilmembers having a contract to purchase the PDK greenspace on their Tuesday [Dec. 13] agenda, Mattison says now is a good time for the Council to pause, and think about other possibilities.
“Now let’s say that we take that six million dollars that we were going to give to PDK greenspace, negotiate an agreement with DeKalb County,” Mattison told The Post. “We’ve got a strong relationship with Mike Thurmond [the incoming CEO], and we’ve got some change of county commissioners over there. Hopefully they would support the fact that we’re already DeKalb County citizens, we’ve already had our taxpayers pay for that land once.”
Mattison said if need be, the County could give the city first right of refusal on the PDK property, so that in the event a new County administration comes in, Brookhaven can still buy it at some future date.
“Let’s utilize that six million dollars to build a new DeKalb Service Center, go ahead and transfer the front portion of Brookhaven Park so that we can program this thing in its entirety,” Mattison explains. “So instead of the idea that we’re going to be considering on Tuesday night of just the PDK greenspace purchase, we will have a 2-for-1 part win: a win for the county, a win for the city, and a win for the DeKalb County Service Board that operates on the front portion of this park.”
Because of ideas like this that Mattison says haven’t been explored in full, he hopes the City Council hits the brakes on the purchase of the PDK greenspace, allowing a conversation with the new administration of DeKalb County “and hopefully we can create better win-win scenarios.”
He said that his intent was not to displace the DeKalb Service Center, but to bring them into conversations that might result in a solution that works for them while granting Brookhaven the use of the entire park.