Editor’s Note: The following speech was delivered by Brookhaven City Councilmember Joe Gebbia during the Dec. 12 groundbreaking for the Peachtree Creek Greenway. Gebbia represents District 4 on the council and serves as the city’s mayor pro tem.

Once upon a time, in a far-off paradise known as northern DeKalb County, there lived a tribe of people who had a dream.

Brookhaven City Councilmember Joe Gebbia.

And their dream was relatively simple. They wanted to create a better life for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

This dream festered for years, until one day they birthed a city called Brookhaven.

Oh! These tribesmen and -women were joyous at the new creation they brought about. Having always been a land of parks, they were very excited at making these parcels of land even more glorious, but lo and behold, they did not know how to do this – so they chose amongst themselves a council of elders to show them the way.

These elders began in earnest planning new playgrounds, installing artificial turf fields, creating festivals that would be to the merriment of all – and even fencing in an area to create the largest dog park in the land.

But all was not rosy in this paradise of Brookhaven, for you see, there was one council district that had no parks. Lonely were the days and long was the want to be a part of this glorious effort.

He was determined to find a way – but where and how?

There was no land to recreate the kingdoms of Blackburn, Murphey Candler, Lynwood – or even Clack’s Corner.

But then, one cold January day, standing at an overpass looking down upon the Peachtree Creek, the golden rays of the sun lit up the magnificence of this special piece of land in all its glory.

He imagined how wonderful it would be to have a path where people could walk, run or bike to experience this true beauty, where people could come to heal from ailments or simply seek solace while being part of nature.

Oh! Could such a thing really happen…?

That cold January day was in 2013, six years almost to the date of where we stand today.

On that day, a vision began and a seed was planted, and the planting of that seed has led us all here today.

Now the nurturing of that seed requires the effort of many. What followed can best be described in the phrase, “It takes a community to build a world-class park.”

The elders were primarily policy-setters, and as with all good fairy tales, other heroes surface just when the story needs them.

Key among these shining knights in armor were:

Carlos Perez of Perez Planning & Design, LLC

Betsy Eggers and her Peachtree Creek Greenway, LLC 501(c)3

Key local legislators that secured passage of key legislation needed for our financing packages: state Senators Fran Millar and Elena Parent, state Representatives Scott Holcomb and Meagan Hanson

Our corporate sponsors: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University, The Salvation Army, and many others

The excellent staff at the city of Brookhaven with special recognition to Christian Sigman, city manager; Brian Borden, parks director; and Steve Chapman, CFO

And last, but certainly not least, a very special thanks to the honorable members of the Roundtable, Mayor John Ernst and my fellow council members Bates Mattison, John Park and Linley Jones, for their unwavering support and commitment to the success of this project.

As with most fairy tales, there is a happy ending… and though that may seem the case here, it’s really just the end of Chapter One.

With this symbolic shoveling of the dirt this morning, Brookhaven will begin a new chapter in this never-ending fairy tale of the Peachtree Creek Greenway.

We will be creating a $36 million “statement park” within the BeltLine.

We will be helping to design the quality of the economic development that will soon follow along the Buford Highway corridor.

And we will be fulfilling our commitment to improve the quality of life for all.

This fairy tale to be continued…

Well I don’t know about you, but I am ready to go “play in the dirt”!

Thank you all so very much.

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