Fortunate, indeed, we’ve been who are enjoying our townhomes in Brookhaven during this unexpected immersion in time at home. With high ceilings, a maintenance-free front yard, and a vest-pocket park right on the property, there are many in Atlanta who may feel more shut in than we do. The nearness of city life that we enjoy, too, is a kind of reversal of what originally brought people to Brookhaven. At first a retreat from urban life, Brookhaven more often represents today a person’s best option for balance, blending the comfort of being away from the hubbub with the constant knowledge that all the advantages of one of the world’s great cities are within easy reach.

Among the advantages of that nearby city is Atlanta’s own miraculous preservation of the green option, as an integral part of city living. Like London, which boasts 40% public green space and a system of parks that totals thousands of acres, Atlanta has managed to flourish in commerce, industry, and communication while still offering abundant options for outdoor recreation, including parks that range from enormous to cozy, and a connecting system of paths and trails that is the envy of urban planners everywhere. Brookhaven is blessed to lie within easy access of all that green space and outdoor enjoyment.

The Usefulness of What We Have

The fact that outdoor recreation and the opportunities we have to enjoy it are so handy here, was by no means inevitable. Plenty of cities sprawled and flexed without making provisions for nature, so the lessons of what happens when these needs are ignored are demonstrated elsewhere. Aside from these unfortunate examples, let’s look at some positive proofs of the practicality of providing easy access to the outdoors.

Just moments away from Brookhaven, our neighbors in Buckhead have been looking ahead to the development of an innovative approach to parkland. The park that is envisioned has been known by many names, but one of the working titles, the Park Over GA404, is perhaps most descriptive. The importance of such a project is shown in part by the persistence that its vision and fulfillment have required.

A Long Road to Achievement

Nearly five years ago, the Buckhead Community Improvement District engaged a project team that studied solutions to the need for parkland in already-developed urban areas. In cities such as New York (the Highline), Montreal (the Place d’Youville), and Berlin (the Gabriele-Tergit Promenade), they found successful examples for study, places where linear spaces – and even elevated solutions – offered the answer for putting green space where it is needed most.

The current executive director of the Buckhead CID, Jim Durrett, has recently drawn assurance of the importance of such a project from the testimony found in a couple of significant books.

The first is a book by Eric Klinenberg on what he calls “Social Infrastructure” and its impact on cooperation and prosperity in civic life. Another is The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, by Florence Williams. The title is self-explanatory.

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