I attended a meeting held by the 501c-3 Stand Up DeKalb this week, which dealt with the possible formation of a city somewhere “West of I-85” and “East of US 29” and “North of North Decatur Road” and … An “area of eligibility” (my term) of about 30 square miles. Fear not, this is not a boundary that’s ever likely to be the subject of state legislation. What in God’s name would you call it? It might be easier to name it for what it isn’t—“Anywhere but”, which even sounds exclusionary, which coincidentally is something for which the whole cityhood movement has been criticized.
In fact, I’ve been told that if the Oak Grove/Druids are involved, any name is in play except “Northlake” (boo-hoo for me) because it invokes the wreckage of a mall and a bygone era. Maybe there will even be two or three “cities” (rather, call it “collective local representation” so as not to leave out some other form of jurisdictional). Certainly Tucker will do something on its own now that the January-from-Hell PR problem has landed on DeKalb—the little village really is the one perfect historical town left in DeKalb. Did you see how Tuckerites came together when landmark Handy Ace Hardware burned down? Contrast that with the reaction one could expect if Northlake Mall went up in flames.
One of the attendees at the Stand Up meeting suggested that “we” start “our city” small and intimate so as to annex areas later. Everybody knows what that means—Oak Grove. Just makes me feel good all over—how about you? Now there’s a representative community if I’ve ever seen one. Not an apartment complex in sight and very few rental homes to boot. Just wait ‘till the demographics are tabulated. You think Dunwoody has a hard time explaining it ain’t white?
Well—there may be some pretty powerful dissenting voices betting that their area will beat the “Grovians” to the punch. I sat at the Stand Up meeting with a guy from the Evansdale school zone and he pointed out that his house isn’t on the Stand Up map. He’s kinda big in Republican circles. He’s willing to bet he can get his legislative buddies from Dunwoody (those pesky provocateurs) to try his area before more Democrat Briarcliff—if you have to go small early on.
One can certainly see an area centered on Northlake Mall—and tight enough to exclude the people that hold their nose at it. The Northlake idea has the added benefit of incorporating Industrial property, a hospital and some railroad tracks (can you say commuter rail station)—no high school though, but that’s not a problem because we can now produce a charter school in a matter of days (again, thanks mostly to those same provocateurs. You can make a case that a 2-mile radius around Northlake Mall would be the most “complete” of the new cities on an economic asset basis (things that many new cities are very short on), even if only 10,000 people. Since the new city movement is all about breaking all of the rules about what constitutes a city, why not one where the commercial/industrial revenue is twice that greater of the residential. Wait a darn minute! That is a traditional rule for a city!
People, there’s a reason this area has leadership “issues”. In the final analysis, we are not one area. We aren’t even three areas. We’re a bunch of fat and happy neighborhoods that has NEVER had a reason to organize together….and this is too damn big and risky an issue to start doing it. Sandy Springs had thirty (40?) years of Leadership This and Civic Roundtable That and a central core LCI and State Reps that had been fighting the legislative battle forever. People knew the terms of engagement. Dunwoody has a civic association that is respected by not only this county, but maybe the whole world. Dunwoody has historic society, Dunwoody has a center, Dunwoody is a darn PLACE for Pete’s sake. You think the Perimeter CID didn’t have discussions behind the scenes downtown with how many headquartered Fortune 500 companies?
The most visible power we have in “this” area (whatever that is) resides EVERYWHERE and they ain’t gonna help with no city. It’s the Federal government. What they will do is help with a Druid Hills Road/Buford Highway/I-85 Corridor CID. The Feds will engage to enhance their living space between PDK Airport and Emory University and all points between.
Start there with some special districts and maybe show some innovative leadership which forces the county government to respond to your needs.