Lynwood Park huddles protectively among the large developments and half million dollar homes that are beginning to crowd it out. Located on prime real estate in Brookhaven, Lynwood Park is battening down the hatches and pulling up the welcome mat to developers to protect its thriving cultural heritage.
"I live next door to the home where I grew up. I've never lived on more than one street in my life," says Pat Martin, a 69-year-old resident of the area, "We are a community of generations. You have up to six generations living in this neighborhood here."
Allegedly the oldest traditionally African-American neighborhood in DeKalb County, Lynwood Park began to be settled in the '30s. Its strength was in the churches and five remain in the 17 streets that make up the area between Silver Lake, Windsor Parkway and Madison Avenue.
Martin now is the executive director of the Lynwood Park Community Project, a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 that is revitalizing the area by building new homes, organizing homebuyer education workshops and rehabilitating older homes. Martin worries because the residents themselves are the biggest threat to the neighborhood.
"Eighty-five percent of the residents are currently senior citizens. Their heirs see the value of the land and they sell," explains Martin, "There is no way that we can continue to protect it if it continues."
Recently, 14 heirs sold land fronting Windsor Parkway. A large development of townhomes was quickly erected on the acreage that overlooks over the small bungalows and shotgun houses that have lined the area for generations.
But Martin has not lost hope, "Young people are moving in here. We know each other. We are making this place a better place for everyone to live."