An image of a sign that will be placed next to the entrance of the proposed Mountain Way Common park.

The transformation from dangerous eye-sore to community park is growing closer for an 8 acre parcel of land that runs beneath a Georgia 400 overpass in North Buckhead.  Friends of Mountain Way Common expect to have a busy fall.

At an August 9 neighborhood meeting at St. James United Methodist Church, FMWC members unveiled signage that will soon mark two entrances to the proposed park that will be called Mountain Way Common.   They told an audience of about 20 people that fundraising initiatives and visioning meetings will begin in earnest as the summer heat subsides, following cleanup efforts along Mountain Way this month.

With the city of Atlanta strapped for cash, funding for the park will come entirely from charitable donations.  The Mountain Way Soirée, Mountain Way Common’s first major funding event, will be October 6 at the Phipps Tower penthouse.  The event will include food, live music and wine tastings. Organizers hope to make the fund raiser an annual event to support operations and maintenance of the park once planning and construction are complete.

Livable Buckhead Inc, a nonprofit group dedicated to increasing green space in Buckhead, has partnered with FMWC to accept donations and provide tickets to the event, as well as handling other administrative tasks related to the park.

Denise Starling, Executive Director of Livable Buckhead Inc. told residents that parks like the proposed Mountain Way Common are crucial to maintaining Buckhead’s appeal for future residents and businesses.

“When a community likes to call itself world class like we do, typically parks are one of the key things that are a feature of those cities,” said Starling .   “Those things aren’t what we identify with Buckhead right now.”

FMWC recently received a $25,000 Visioning Grant from Park Pride, a nonprofit focused on improvement and development of Atlanta area parks.  The grant is intended to help create a master plan for the park based on input from residents.  Meetings for the visioning process will begin in September.

Currently, physical improvements to the area are limited to the semi-annual cleanups residents have been organizing since 2009.  These cleanups, says FMWC ad hoc board member, Daniel Weede, not only improve safety and visibility along Mountain Way. Weede believes the poor appearance of the land encourages dumping and littering.

Ad hoc board member Jane Moss announced an Aug. 25 cleanup effort, telling residents that even those who aren’t suited to the physical labor of beating back undergrowth and hauling trash should stop by the event to see the site and meet with other supporters.

“It’s about cleaning, but it’s also about gaining awareness,” Moss told residents.

Perhaps the most important development for Mountain Way Common will be the official handing over of the land by Georgia Department of Transportation, for development of the park.  The delay, thus far, has revolved around questions regarding whether a lease or transfer of ownership would best benefit the parties involved.  However, Weede says representatives from the city, state and GDOT are all anxious to come to an agreement.

“Nothing happens as fast as I want it to, but I would imagine this fall we will probably have a real agreement in place,” Weede said.  “Once everybody starts nodding their heads. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.”

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