Though many consider community greenspace a mere luxury, in DeKalb County it is a rapidly disappearing necessity. As sprawl continues to consume greater Atlanta, DeKalb finds itself already 80% developed, with no sign of losing momentum. The benefits gained from securing ample greenspace improve citizen's health and overall quality of life in many ways, including economically and environmentally.
Greenspace includes parks, nature preserves and recreational centers, all of which attract residents who increase local property values, and businesses that provide jobs. Greenspace also helps the community at large by lowering crime and reducing the cost of public services such as police protection, and sewer and road maintenance. Not only does our air quality benefit, but treating drinking water also becomes easier and more affordable if we allow the waterways and surrounding ecosystems to naturally cleanse themselves. However, the need for recreational opportunities is perhaps most important for the ever more sedentary, auto-dependent Atlanta area population. The trails, bike paths, and pedestrian ways provide citizens with a much-needed athletic outlet, as well as an alternative transportation route to the traffic-ridden, hazardous roads and highways.
The Urban Land Institute warned that "the Atlanta region is expanding faster than any settlement in human history." Though securing greenspace prevents further development in urban areas to an extent, and could be interpreted as an economically backward idea, the total value gained from protecting our natural resources - economically, environmentally and recreationally - far outweigh the value gained from allowing the Atlanta area to continue its destructive cycle of sprawl.
To curb this cycle, DeKalb joined the Georgia Community Greenspace Program on November 29, 2000, and adopted a Joint DeKalb/Municipal Greenspace Program. This program may be viewed in its entirety at Joint DeKalb County/Municipal Greenspace Program. The Initiative for a Green DeKalb was created to implement the County program.