Nine laps around the new Georgian Hills Park walking trail gets you one mile, should you be counting.

That’s what Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden noted during a recent stroll through the park at 2800 Georgian Hills Drive, where $1.2 million in improvements wrapped up this month after eight months of work. The improvements include a new picnic shelter with ceiling fans and lights, a natural playground area and even two hammocks for those wanting to snooze in the sun.

City Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden welcomes residents to the new walking trail circling Georgian Hills Park. (Dyana Bagby)

“We’ve now created a big, open space where families can come out with their kids and play ball, play Frisbee, or just relax while their kids play on the playground,” Borden said.

Granite steps lead to Clairmont Road where a new, wide sidewalk was installed as part of the city’s bike-pedestrian plan as well, Borden said.

“This is truly a neighborhood park and those who live in the area walk here,” he said. There are a few parking spaces available as well as some street parking for those wanting to visit from elsewhere.

The finished Georgian Hills Park is one of 12 site-specific parks master plan projects the city is undertaking. Others in the works include a new open space field at Murphey Candler Park and a brand-new Skyland Park. If good weather holds out, Borden said both of those projects should be complete by next month.

“This is a park director’s job dream, to come into a job and do a lot of projects,” he said. “It’s nice to see a community have such a passion for their parks and we want to continue to provide great facilities for people to enjoy.”

The city recently contracted with Park Pride, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that provides programs and leadership to help communities activate neighborhood parks, for $19,540.

Park Pride will work with local park conservancies to provide resources such as finding volunteers for a cleanup day as well as fundraising efforts, according to Michael Halicki, who spoke to the City Council at its April 24 work session.

“Our whole focus is to engage communities to activate parks,” Halicki said.

Park Pride works with parks in Atlanta and DeKalb County and had a relationship with Brookhaven before the city incorporated in 2012. The city is now reestablishing the partnership.

Park Pride is already meeting and working with the city’s Parks & Recreation Coalition (PARC), an organization of members of various city park conservancies, to determine ways to move forward.

“Having Park Pride return to our community is like a reunion of familiar friends,” said Sue Binkert, chair of PARC, in a prepared statement. “PARC’s members and the city will benefit from having Park Pride’s expertise to leverage community efforts, thereby advancing the quality and function of Brookhaven’s parks.”

Steve Peters, who heads up the Murphey Candler Park Conservancy, said while he was not involved with Park Pride when it was previously working with Brookhaven, he was excited about the resources the organization is expected to provide.

The resources include financial “tool boxes” where Park Pride can assist conservancy groups to have materials, such as wheelbarrows, donated or sold at lower costs from a major retailer, he said.

Before Brookhaven incorporated, Park Pride provided support and resources to Friends of the Parks groups and organizing volunteer clean-ups.
“Members of Brookhaven’s Friends of the Parks groups are extremely dedicated to their parks,” said Ayanna Williams, Park Pride’s director of Community Building. “There was, and still exists today, a deep understanding of and appreciation for the benefits that well cared for parks and green spaces bring to communities.”

City Manager Christian Sigman said at the work session that contracting with Park Pride is intended to infuse energy into residents to want to take care of their parks.

“In a nutshell we have some great parks, but we have a huge range in dichotomy in engagement in parks,” he said, noting the Peachtree Creek Greenway, expected to open in two years, will also need a dedicated group of volunteers.

A ribbon cutting for Georgian Hills Park is set for Thursday, May 3, at 4 p.m.

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