January 13, 2013
In 2004, Nikki VanDerGrinten from the Dresden East Civic Association (DECA) helped orchestrate an amazing transformation on the 4 traffic islands at the intersection of Shallowford Road and I-85. What had been an “eyesore of overgrown weeds and trash” was reconstructed into a well tended series of gardens. Fast forward 8 years later and these islands still look fantastic (thanks to the continuing efforts of many neighbors, including Ms VanDerGrinten).
Many of us in Doraville (and particularly those of us who live in the Northwoods neighborhood) frequently use the interchange one exit North of the one at Shallowford – at Chamblee Tucker Road. The “landscaping” at this interchange is really pitiful, especially when compared to what has been accomplished a couple of miles South of us. For a long time, what the neighbors in Dresden East did has been an inspiration, but we did not have a leader (or leaders) to take charge and get the ball rolling… until now.
Dave Bearse, who is a member of Northwoods Area Neighborhood Association, finally decided to do something about the interchange at Chamblee Tucker Road. To do this, he enlisted the help of Nikki VanDerGrinten from DECA and Matt Sitter, President of the Surrey Place Homeowners Association (in unincorporated Dekalb County, just outside Doraville). These three neighborhood leaders were able to rally 13 volunteers from the area who got together on an unseasonably balmy Saturday in January.
Participants in the clean-up picked up trash, shoveled leaves and dirt, pulled out ivy and other vegetation, and generally tried to “clean the place up”.
Many of us didn’t know each other before, but the shared purpose of the clean-up helped those of us who participated develop a sense of comradery as the day progressed.
You wouldn’t think it, but we actually had fun scooping up dirt and picking up trash!
According to Dave Bearse:
There has been discussion of the future establishment of a University Triangle Community Improvement District (CID) that could make improvements and help maintain interchange landscaping among other things. (The Perimeter CID for example maintains the I‑285 Ashford Dunwoody Interchange, and the Gwinnett Village CID maintains the I-85 / Jimmy Carter, Indian Trail-Lilburn Rd and Beaver Ruin Rd interchanges.)
The CID may not ever happen, and if it does, it would be at least a couple years before it would be poised to perform and work, so the volunteers’ consensus was for another cleanup in Spring after the lawn is next mowed by highway maintenance forces. In the meantime, I have two actions items: (1) Notify GDOT/DeKalb County about the broken pedestrian signal in the northeast quadrant of the interchange, and (2) Request Georgia Power remove an old pole without any attachments from the southwest quadrant island.
I, for one, am looking forward to the next island clean-up; and hoping that this entrance to Doraville will one day really shine.