Back in February, Brookhaven was awarded a $5,700,000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) executive committee, for purchase of the forested land along Clairmont Rd. on the outer edge of the Ashford Park Neighborhood. The purchase of the land increases the total amount of greenspace in Brookhaven by 10%, according to the City.
“This is an exciting milestone for Brookhaven and its residents who worked so tirelessly to preserve Brookhaven’s green and vibrant environment,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst in the release. “We still have work to do to ensure that the property is safe for all residents to enjoy, but I’m looking forward to exploring this greenspace with my sons when it opens.”
For the first 5-years of the loan, the City explains they will utilize $2.4 million in proceeds from the sale of land at Skyland Park to the DeKalb County School System for a new John Lewis Elementary School, to pay the note. During that 5 year period, the City will decide what mechanism will be used to pay the balance of the loan, which carries a reduced .89% interest rate because the property purchase is an eligible conservation project.
“To maximize the accessibility of this 33-acre site, we will need to fix the issues caused by the storage of old fuel tanks and construction material for many years,” said City Manager Christian Sigman in the release. “This fall, our work should be complete and we will be able to open the area for all to enjoy.”
Currently one of the City’s Public Works vendors, RoadWorx, utilizes the Clairmont Rd. frontage as a staging area for maintenance equipment. By virtue of an agreement with PDK, RoadWorx also uses the space as a “home base” of sorts for their crews. The City says they are already looking for a place to relocate the staging area to.
The City describes the property as having mature trees, a stream, wildlife and native plants. While the City now owns the property, the land will remain closed to the public throughout the summer so staff and community partners can address site environmental remediation, cleanup and safety issues.
“We delivered on our promise to the dedicated citizens in this community who have been lobbying for years to have this land preserved,” said Brookhaven City Council Member John Park in the release. “The hardest part is finished. Now, Brookhaven is solely responsible for the future of this priceless urban forest.”
The CWSRF, is as a federal loan program administered by GEFA, and provides communities throughout Georgia with low-interest loans to fund wastewater infrastructure and water pollution control projects. “The program is jointly funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Georgia,” explains GEFA. “Eligible projects include a variety of stormwater and wastewater collection and treatment projects. These projects conserve and improve water resources, and facilitate economic growth, and development. Low-interest loans from this program are available up to $25 million.”
The GEFA loan awarded to Brookhaven includes $500,000 in principal forgiveness, for the financing of the PDK Greenspace.