|Commissioner Larry Johnson shared the following comments during yesterday’s Board of Commissioners meeting as to why he was in favor of the land exchange:
This is more than a land swap. This is about bringing more access and more amenities to these long-standing communities to support their sustainability and quality of life. This land exchange provides opportunities for enhanced equity and economic advancement for neighborhoods that have been historically underserved. By working together, we’ve been able to create a model where both environmental and economic concerns can be addressed to benefit the entire community. This will be a total green space of 149 acres.
More Access + More Amenities = Enhanced Equity and Economic Advancement
· The exchange will provide a contiguous greenspace network with more access to trails and community gathering spaces for the neighborhoods it serves:
· State of the Art Playground – to ensure that current recreation facilities are replaced, such as parking, trail head and pavilion:
· ADA Accessible
· New amenities such as a restroom, a water fountain and an emergency call box at trail head.
· The exchange will provide neighbors with more access to a healthier community and lifestyle:
· Walking Trails – Easy access with the expansion of the trail:
· Michelle Obama trail is approximately 5 miles from GA State (Perimeter) to Intrenchment Creek. The goal eventually will be to connect to Atlanta’s Beltline.
· Creating a Boardwalk that provides a view of the South River and connects to the existing bike/walking path trail
· Connection for Mental Health
· Permanent green undeveloped buffer between neighborhoods and industrial uses:
· Reduce the noise
· Concerns of polluting Intrenchment Creek and the South River – In fact, the new Blackhall property creates a much larger buffer than would exist if they build on their existing property. The new property line is 1100 ft at the closest point (up to 1400 ft) from Intrenchment Creek. For the existing property, the cleared land is only 500 ft from the creek
· The exchange will provide neighbors with more access to opportunities for economic advancement:
· Projected addition of jobs in a wide range of occupations related to studio expansion
· Partnership with Ronald E. McNair High School’s Creative Academy and Cedar Grove High School to add film, media and AV production to its curriculum
· Film industry Internship opportunities prioritizing DeKalb County high school students
· Entertainment industry programing for youth and adults at Gresham Recreation Center
· The exchange will provide for a more inclusive park space to serve people of all abilities and ages.
· The exchange will provide for a safer park where neighbors can enjoy amenities without worry.
· The exchange will provide for more community gathering opportunities even in a COVID world.
As we move forward, I invite those who have opposed this Enhanced Equity Exchange to sit at the table with long-standing community members to ensure we are planning and programing an inclusive park that’s welcoming to all and benefits the entire community.
Community Stakeholders Land Exchange Support Comments:
Alison Clark, President, Boulder Walk Homeowners Association,
Chairwoman, Southwest Dekalb Neighborhood Alliance
I am writing to urge support for the proposed land exchange between Dekalb County and Blackhall Studios. I am the President of the Boulder Walk Homeowners Association and the Chairwoman of the Southwest Dekalb Neighborhood Alliance; while writing in my capacity as such, I am also a mom dedicated to increasing opportunity and advancing positive growth in the community in which I wish to raise my children. As the only subdivision sharing a common boundary with Tract 3 of the proposed swap, we are directly impacted by the use of this land and therefore uniquely positioned to encourage support of this positive development.
I am asking that you fully back the proposed land swap as it is both necessary and appropriate for our neighborhood and the greater southwest Dekalb community. The land swap ensures a buffer between our residential area and the industrial area to the south of our community. Further, it allows for better access to a safer and more welcoming place to gather. This is in direct opposition to the current park which does not allow for pedestrian access, has no security measures in place, and is generally unsafe. I would not dare take my family to the existing park; a sentiment echoed by similarly situated members of this community. However, with the addition of sidewalks along Bouldercrest Road, security cameras, police call boxes, and an improved park to include the proposed amenities, I would gladly spend time enjoying the park.
During the public meeting on September 10th, the primary objections to the land swap came from those who are not part of the local community; individuals who seek to stall the development of our community as a means of justification for development in their own. It is quite perplexing to hear someone residing along the Beltline with no tie to the community contend that greenspace in our area must be preserved for their benefit. It’s a meritless argument and it further ignores the addition of acreage/greenspace and guaranteed appropriate use thereof.
Another primary objection from those in opposition to the land swap were economic considerations. While some contend that there are insufficient guarantees of economic growth, those making the argument fail to account for the current absence of economic growth and lack of interest from other prospects; something members of this southwest Dekalb community are keenly aware of. Such a stance seeks nothing more than to undermine the positive impact this swap will have on the area. Blackhall Studio’s presence and willingness to invest in this community brings opportunity in the form of increased property values, increased interest from prospective developers, partnerships in education, higher level retail and service providers, and so much more.
While Dekalb County has seen growth in many areas, the southwest corridor has been continually overlooked and neglected. A vote against this opportunity would only serve to perpetuate that neglect. Conversely, the addition of Blackhall Studios and a state of the art park and recreational area offers our community an opportunity to grow in a manner similar to that afforded more affluent parts of Dekalb County. Again, I urge your support and thank you for your thoughtful consideration.