When officials from the Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood initiatives announced at the July 2 DeKalb Government Operations Task Force meeting that they were joining forces – “dating” (not married or engaged) in the words of Lakeside Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth – there was little detail about how the relationship would unfold. The couple’s first date was an awkward one as representatives from the merged cityhood movements spoke at the July 9 Lindbergh-LaVista Corridor Coalition (LLCC) meeting.
To carry the analogy further, it was basically The Breakfast Club – enemies thrown together in a social setting and warily talking out their differences to find common ground. Whether this will end with someone fist-pumping the air to “Don’t You Forget About Me” remains to be seen, but what is certain is that if the partnership between Briarcliff and Lakeside holds, those names will disappear and a new one will be chosen to represent the merged north DeKalb County territory. It also means going back to the drawing board and creating a new map.
At the end of this year’s Georgia legislative session, the three competing cityhood movements – Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker – found their efforts tabled over boundary disputes. A last minute effort to merge the Lakeside and Tucker plans was – here’s another analogy – an arranged marriage that neither side really wanted, but accepted in hopes of getting any kind of action at the capital. With the dust settled, Tucker is now on its own, there have been shifts in the behind-the-scenes players for both the Briarcliff and Lakeside movements and there is – at least in this early phase – a willingness to get this couple to the altar.
But before their are any wedding bells – or a referendum on the ballot – the combined cityhood initiatives are going to have to convince residents in both territories that the merged groups are viable and inclusive. If the mood of the members of the LLCC, a group comprised of residents from Lindridge/Martin Manor, LaVista Park and Woodland Hills, was any indication, there might be a few bumps in the road.
There was lingering bitterness from some residents in the LLCC neighborhoods who felt snubbed by Lakeside, which, as it was finally admitted, didn’t think the communities were essential to the movement. The neighborhoods joined the Briarcliff initiative, which stalled out at the Gold Dome as Lakeside and Tucker limped forward.
“What we are trying to do is consolidate two visions,” said Briarcliff spokesman Keith Hanks. “These first meetings are going to be raw things as we figure out how to work together.”
Lakeside representative Josh Kahn agreed, calling the cityhood process “messy.” Some of that messiness was the palpable tension between members of the Briarcliff movement as they tried to explain how the process would, essentially, start from scratch again. There was also uncertainty voiced about whether or not a state representative would take the newly merged cityhood movement to the Georgia Legislature for the 2015 session.
“We are two groups trying to get to one map,” Kahn said. “We are going to have to talk to people and see which neighborhoods want to be a part of it.”
Going forward, there will be some kind of poll or survey taken of residents in both the old Briarcliff and Lakeside cityhood areas to determine if they still want to move forward with creating a new city and what essential services are most important to them. No timeline was set for when the poll might take place. The LLCC members were encouraged to talk to their neighbors and take the temperature of this new movement.
The couple’s next date has not been announced, but watch this space for updates.