Greetings neighbors! I hope everyone had a wonderful summer. As we move into Fall and the beginning of the school year, I wanted to highlight three things for you. First, please take the opportunity during the next six weeks to renew your civic association membership for 2016. Your membership dues allow us to put on social events, support neighborhood beautification efforts, and monitor development in and around our neighborhood. We can’t do it without your support! Second, please consider getting more involved in your civic association by joining a committee or volunteering to serve on our Board. We will have a number of members rotating off the Board in 2016 and need volunteers to replace them. Please send us an email at BriarcliffWoods@gmail.com if you are interested or want to learn more. Finally, on November 3rd, we all will be voting on the referendum for the city of LaVista Hills. I encourage you to educate yourself on the issues and to debate and discuss them with your neighbors. But, please remember – whether the referendum passes or fails, we will still be neighbors with each other. So, please be respectful of each other no matter what side you support.
As many of you know, we will be voting on November 3rd on a referendum on whether to incorporate into the city of Lavista Hills. The boundaries of the proposed city are shown on this map [LVH map]. While the issues involved are complex and many-faceted, the following are the main arguments for and against the proposed city that we have seen. But, a few facts at the outset:
Services to be provided by the proposed city are police, parks, planning (land use & zoning), public works (roads & drainage), and permitting & licensing.
All other services like fire, sanitation, and courts remain with the county.
The proposed city will not alter the school system or school attendance zones.
Arguments For Cityhood
Local control of services – With the proposed city taking over services like parks, zoning, and roads, sidewalks, and drainage, decisions about how to allocate funds for services will be made closer to home, rather than at the county level.
Greater accountability – Each county commissioner represents about 70,000 residents. With 6 districts, each city councilmember would represent about 11,000 residents. With fewer residents to represent, councilmembers can be more responsive to their constituents.
More responsive police – DeKalb County police suffers from understaffing and high attrition rates. The Carl Vinson Institute (CVI) study shows that the proposed city could support as many as 100 officers, which is more than are currently provided for the city’s area by the police force.
More efficient use of tax revenues – The CVI study shows that the proposed city would run an approximate $1.5 million surplus with existing millage rates. Dunwoody has shown that it can provide services for 2.74 mills when DeKalb charges unincorporated residents 4.96 mills for those same services. Also, the proposed city is prohibited from increasing the millage rates over 5 mills unless approved by a voter referendum.
Potential for economic development – New cities in metro Atlanta have been better at attracting investment and improving property values than unincorporated areas.
Arguments Against Cityhood
Another layer of government – Even though tax revenues to support the services being provided will be shifted from the county to the proposed city, a new city will still require additional administration and support staff that duplicates what is already being provided to the county commission.
Harm to the remaining unincorporated area of DeKalb County – When tax revenue is shifted to a new city, this results in less overall revenue for the County, which still must provide police, parks, and other services to the rest of the County. This strain could result in higher taxes for the rest of the County and/or lesser services.
Loss of a portion of the HOST tax credit – A portion of the Homestead Option Sales Tax credit would not be credited to the proposed city.
Potential complications and delays with police response – 911 operators have had difficulty determining which police force should respond near the borders of the new cities in DeKalb.
Less focus on remedying DeKalb County’s problems – Both cityhood proponents and opponents agree that DeKalb County has problems that need to be fixed. Many cityhood opponents believe that further incorporation will reduce the chances that further needed changes to DeKalb County will occur because motivated citizens in new cities will focus on the new cities rather than remedying County problems.
Interested residents should also check out websites:
Community meetings are another avenue to listen to arguments for and against cityhood. Below are the meetings we currently know of, but as we learn of additional meetings (either for or against cityhood) we will post information on theBWCA Facebook page and on the BWCA calendar. BWCA is not endorsing a position for or against cityhood, but feel it is most important for our residents to be aware of the issues and informed of opportunities to learn more so that you can make an educated decision at the voting booth.
September kicks off the BWCA membership drive. The BWCA membership year runs from October 1 to September 30 the following year. Dues are $25 per household. You can renew membership or join BWCA by going to BriarcliffWoods.org and paying $25 by credit card or Paypal, or by mailing a check to:
Treasurer, Briarcliff Woods Civic Association
PO Box 98358
Atlanta, GA 30359
Please provide your address and the names, telephone numbers and email addresses of the adults in your household so we can keep the neighborhood directory current. BWCA does not provide directory information to solicitors.
SAVE THE DATE for Sunday, October 4th from 5-7 pm when BWCA will start the new membership year with the Annual BWCA Fall Fling. Join your neighbors for an evening full of games, live music, and fun. The BWCA Board will be grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers for the main course and 'potluck' side dishes/desserts will be assigned by last name. More details to follow in September!
In September, we will be taping flyers on all mailboxes in the neighborhood. The flyer will include information about the membership drive and Fall Fling. If you have already renewed your membership just make sure to read the details on the Fall Fling. We look forward to seeing you at the Fall Fling!
The Friends of Pendergrast Park group sponsored a second and final visioning meeting on July 13th at the Briarcliff Woods Beach Club. Twenty local neighbors attended the meeting where Dave Butler, Greenspace Manager for Dekalb County, presented the conceptual plan for the park (shown below). The plan features a small parking lot, a children’s play area, a hiking trail with scenic overlooks and a gazebo. Additional suggestions included a seating area along the trail and a picnic area adjacent to the play area.
The next step is to continue fundraising so we can develop the park over time. The Friends of Pendergrast Park team will help Dekalb County prioritize the development of the park. Funds will be coming from a mix of sources such as private donations, grants and matching funds from Dekalb County. It will cost between $120-$180K to develop the park to include the parking area, children’s play area, the trails and the gazebo. We currently have raised $4,400 though private donations and the silent auction held in May – so we have a long way to go.
Volunteers on Clean Up Days
We will need many volunteers for two park workdays planned for this fall:
Saturday, September 19th, 9-12 AM
Saturday, November 7th, 9-12 AM
In addition, Friends of Pendergrast Park is seeking for volunteers to fill 2 open positions:
We need your help to make this park a reality! Community funding will be a large part of the overall funding mix. A sincere thanks to those that have already donated!
There are two ways to donate – via check or credit card using the Park Pride Website. Donating by check is preferred, as credit card donations do have a fee.
To donate by check, make your check payable to Park Pride with "Pendergrast Park" in the check memo and mail to:
Treasurer, Friends of Pendergrast Park
2076 Continental Drive
Atlanta, GA 30345
To donate on line, go to the Park Pridewebsite (parkpride.org). Click on the link to donate to a specific park. Select Pendergrast Park, provide the required payment information and you will have an opportunity to print a receipt for your tax deduction.
The annual garage sale was held on June 13th. We had 14 participating homes that sold approximately $2,000 worth of odds and ins. Some participants donated earnings to a local girl scout troop and Camp Sunshine. Thank you to Kim Pollard and her team for putting out road signs and balloons, distributing flyers and advertising the sale online. Want to participate in the 2016 BWCA garage sale? Start cleaning out your closets and mark your calendar for next June. Announcements to solicit participation will come out starting in April.
We have started a new section on our newsletter dedicated to community happenings. BWCA members are encouraged to submit short stories and/or pictures that highlight why our community is a great place to live. Examples might be neighborhood block parties, special celebrations or major achievements, or other special interest stories. Submissions can be sent to BriarcliffWoods@gmail.com.
Neighborhood Street Party
by Rosemary Ramsey
Ed and I moved to Briarcliff Woods in 1978 and immediately appreciated this community. Both of our children grew up here. After college and jobs away, both moved back to this area with their families. In fact, our daughter, Meg Scheid (James), and their family live in Briarcliff Woods too. When they were growing up our neighborhood had a wonderful sense of community, and that feeling still remains.
Our recent neighborhood street party was a delightful gathering of our neighbors – families like Ed and me who have lived here many years, and families who have come to our neighborhood recently. Four families organized the gathering; Charlie and Kim Pollard, Marla Shapiro and Steve Goldstein, Anish and Andrea Sharma, and Ed and Rosemary Ramsey. The party, a simple pot-luck happy hour and appetizers, was held on the lawn of Charlie and Kim who moved to Briarcliff Woods during this past year. Thank you, Charlie and Kim!
The party was very inclusive, including those who live on several streets in our neighborhood. Flyers were placed in mailboxes, emails were sent, and verbal invitations issued to those we saw. Even if you jogged or walked by our area, you were invited and encouraged to join our party! We had a large group, delicious food, and most of all a magnificent time.
Everyone is so busy in their everyday lives, and it becomes difficult to see your neighbors, even for retirees such as us. The street party was a perfect venue to get together, have fun, and get to know each other better. I think these type events also help create a better sense of security for our neighborhoods.
I hope our recent party is just the beginning of casual party times in our neighborhood. Our Briarcliff Woods Civic Association also has social gatherings from time to time. These larger gatherings provide easy ways to learn about the larger neighborhood and each other - and help foster a sense of security and well-being, and they are FUN!