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Down on the Farm- Neely Farm, Part One



Early November morning at the Neely Farm Clubhouse designed by renowned Architect Henry J. Toombs, best known for his design of ‘The Little White House at Warms Springs, GA. (Photo coutesy of Vipul Singh.)

Besides the natural beauty along the Chattahoochee river, rolling hills, mature trees and a neighborhood developed during an era when builders still appreciated the value of beautiful properties, Neely Farm is also conveniently located to nearby grocery stores, churches, gyms, shopping and dining options.

The Forum and Town Center are more recent draws. It’s an easy commute to Atlanta and a quick jaunt to John’s Creek, Alpharetta and surrounding areas of interest.

I spoke to Neely farmer of 26 years and former Homeowner’s Association (HOA) President Pamela Brazell about some of the things that make Neely Farm a special place. “We were attracted to this community-oriented neighborhood,” she said. “Neely Farm is more than a subdivision. It’s a community where people care about their neighbors. You feel like you know everybody, people are so friendly. I love how our neighborhood has transcended time. It was beautiful when it was new, and it’s even more so now.”

Residents, known as “Farmers,” have a community website and neighborhood watch group. They also leverage a Facebook Page to keep each other abreast of new developments, ask for recommendations, help of all sorts, and give praise or express grievances.

A group volunteers specifically to help those in need. “If you’re sick and can’t pick up groceries or medications, they’ll do it for you,” Brazell explained.

Neighborhood watch

The neighborhood watch group keeps the neighborhood updated if there are any alerts. Brazell said that they’ve implemented the Flock Safety Camera System to help police if there’s ever any criminal activity.

“Several Peachtree Corners neighborhoods have it, and the city is on board as well. It’s very cohesive. It’s precise enough to eliminate registered neighbors in a search, showing only license plate numbers that are not registered,” she explained.

Good sports and great schools

Tennis is king in Neely Farm. There is men’s, women’s, mixed teams — and, of course, kids’ tennis. An old map of the subdivision shows four tennis courts. “We built two more because we needed more,” Ned Richards said. Ned and his wife, Marsha, moved to the Neely Farm subdivision 32 years ago and are among the original residents.  “If you went up Big House to the clubhouse and looked to the left on Neely Farm Drive, the barn and silo were still there,” Ned recalled.

Pickleball is an up and coming sport, and several neighbors play on the tennis courts now, but the HOA is looking at possibly building a pickleball court in the next couple of years. Basketball is a walk-up-and-start-a-game-with-neighbors kind of sport.

The Neely Farm Mallards swim team started up almost immediately, Richards said. Kids from 4 to 18 take lessons at the pool and, besides competing with the swim team, may go on to other divisions. “A neighbor who worked for Wilson Sporting Goods had Neely Farm gear made — hats, shirts. I have a windbreaker. Back then, that was unheard of.”

Awards being given to the Neely swim team, The Mallards circa 1995. (Photo courtesy of
Marsha Richards)

Richards said that in the early days on the Farm, almost everybody’s kids went to Peachtree Elementary. “We were all in the same PTA,” he recalled. All the Neely Farm teens went to Norcross High School, though there may have been one or two kids going to Westminster or Lovett.

“We all did the same activities, had vacation and school breaks at the same time. Kids were getting on the same school bus,” Richards said. There was more interaction because everybody had opportunities to meet. Now the senior banner in the spring shows 10 or 12 different high schools represented.”

Wesleyan moving here and the area getting redistricted into Simpson Elementary were a plus, and several families with school-aged kids are moving in. “That’s helped a lot in terms of property values and resales,” Richards said. 

Unique homes

Another great thing about Neely Farm is the variety of home styles found here — they’re not cookie-cutter homes. “When you selected a lot in Neely Farm, the builder came with it. By 1994, it was pretty well built out. They had eight builders to start with,” Richards said. “Back then, it wasn’t typical for a subdivision to have only one builder. Developers preferred a variety of builders so there’d be different styles of homes.”

There are 334 homes in Neely Farm. Two of them are in the Reserve at Neely Farm, where homeowners have the option of paying into the Neely Farm HOA to gain access to the tennis and swim facilities.

The average price of a home in Neely Farm was between $650,000 and $675,000 in 2020. Typically, 18 houses are sold yearly. As of November 2020, 24 homes have sold; the increase is likely due to lower interest rates during the pandemic.

Sidewalks make good neighbors

Marchman was the developer who purchased 325 acres of land from Frank Neely’s descendants and began the transition from a rural to a suburban setting in 1984. Richards noted that Howard Hoffman, the husband of Neely’s granddaughter Eve, insisted that sidewalks be built on both sides of the street as a condition of the sale. It’s an extra cost for the developer, but Hoffman was unflinching.

“Howard said, “You can build nice houses on nice streets, and people will wave. But if you have sidewalks, they’ll stop and talk. Then you won’t just have a subdivision, you’ll have a neighborhood,” Richards recounted. Residents make use of the sidewalks and cross paths with neighbors regularly. Some walk, some jog, some walk their dogs, others stroll with their children.

Richards shared an amusing bit of Farm history, “Depending on what was going on, or if there was something you did that warranted it, in years past, you may have woken up to a toilet on your front lawn. It rotated around the neighborhood as needed, depending on who ‘deserved’ it.”

The clubhouse and River Park

The lovely historical clubhouse was built using bricks from the original Fulton County courthouse. They were transported by train and brought to the estate on a wagon. Built in the 1930s, it served as the Neely farmhouse and hunting lodge. It was newly remodeled this year.

Residents can book the clubhouse online. It has seen many weddings, baby showers and graduation parties over the years. It’s a perk for neighbors to have the space to host gatherings.

Pictures on the walls show the original house and what the rooms were like. “It’s really nice to have that kind of a treasure in your neighborhood,” Brazell said.

One of the finest assets is the natural park with trails along the Chattahoochee River which will remain undisturbed. It’s a certified bird sanctuary for bluebirds and a wildlife preserve. Residents can enjoy nature as they walk, jog, bike or picnic.

It served as an invaluable outlet this year during the pandemic. More than ever, people spent time in the quiet wooded area, enjoying wildlife and fresh air. “It was a godsend for our neighborhood,” Brazell added.

The Street of Dreams

The Atlanta area real estate community sponsored “The Street of Dreams” in a new subdivision each year, as a way for the development to get positive PR and drive traffic to the houses. In the fall of 1989, that street was Indian River in Neely Farm. There were only six homes then, each designed by a different builder.

“The homes were nicely furnished. Interior designers were part of the presentation. The public paid for tours,” Richards said. “A day was set aside for residents to visit for free.”

He remembered that, at that time, “River Bottom, where Rachel dead ends, to the left, wasn’t developed hardly at all. When you went up River Bottom the other way, up the hill, there was no Indian Field, Dairy Way or Harrow Trace. It was just wooded land. All that was built a few years later. There were no river lot homes. That whole area was totally open. Traffic wasn’t a problem.”

Farmers and socialites

“Social events bring neighbors and kids together,” Brazell said. “We’ve enriched our programs for children to keep them an active part of the neighborhood. There is something for everyone here.”

Neely Farm has a special Christmas tradition. What was once a Dine Around at different homes has evolved into a single gathering at the clubhouse. The Farm’s very own Bruce Brett grows his white beard every year in preparation for “Christmas with Santa,” an evening with the children, Mrs. Claus and an elf. “He is the perfect Santa Claus. The kids enjoy coming to see him and having cookies,” Brazell beamed.

For Valentine’s Day, the kids meet for an array of arts and cookies. They’re welcome to make crafts and take them home. Parents join in to help and socialize.

The Easter bunny makes an appearance in Spring for an egg hunt and refreshments at the clubhouse.

Chastain Night is a fun event held in May. Around the pool deck at the clubhouse, a band plays while neighbors mingle, dine and dance around theme-decorated tables. Prizes are awarded to the best tables.

A highlight is the Pig Roast, held in fall. The men gather for comradery and set up tents the night before. Face painters, balloons, a DJ, and delicious food make the annual event fun for the whole neighborhood.

Halloween graveyard at the Lewis home in Neely Farm 2020. (Photo courtesy of Jess Lewis)

Fierce homemade BBQ sauce competitions at the roast have gone on for three decades, complete with campaigns and signs. Richards recalls that, in years past, “…we had skits, routines, sang songs. We made hand fans for Slap your Mama BBQ sauce. The last song of the night was always David Allan Coe’s, ‘You Never Even Called Me by My Name.’ We’d all sing, a large group of us in a circle.”

Brazell remembers that The Fourth of July used to be over the top. “A firetruck would park at the clubhouse. Kids would climb all over it and take pictures. Then we had a parade. Kids decorated their bikes, their little motor cars, wheelbarrows. With music playing, they’d march through the neighborhood,” she said.

The Armchair Brigade was a fabulous part of the Fourth of July parade, she added. “Husbands would get together to practice. They used folding chairs. They would fold up, march, snap them open, snap them shut, put them down, sit down. It was a hoot!”

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground



Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration. 
Photos by Dorie Liu

On Friday, May 10, 2024, the City of Peachtree Corners held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony of its new space-themed Tot Lot Playground on Town Green.

Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration.  This new play area includes a rocket ship, a moon rover, a crashed UFO and other fun designs. It was also created to be fully accessible, ensuring all children can enjoy it.

During the ribbon-cutting, children and their guardians enjoyed fun activities, including an ice cream truck, bubble lady, balloon animals, face painting and even a visit from Buzz Lightyear.

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Peachtree Corners Councilman’s Journey to Opening a Dog Park Haven



Peachtree Corners Dog Park by Louis Svehla

When Peachtree Corners City Councilman Alex Wright last had a dog, he was only a kid.

Young Alex was devastated when he died and did not want to get another dog because he did not want to endure that trauma again. 

As a result, his family has never had a dog, and even though the two youngest of his four children badgered him and his wife endlessly, they always said no. 

Then COVID-19 hit. The Wrights’ youngest son, Michael, was committed to convincing his parents to get a dog. He even did a PowerPoint presentation (with music) explaining why he absolutely needed a dog. 

Michael and Murphy courtesy of Councilman Wright

“I guess it was from being cooped up during Covid that my wife suggested maybe we should give in. Next thing I know we tell the kids we are going to get a dog,” Councilman Wright wrote in an email.

So, in June 2021, they got their first dog, Murphy, an Australian Labradoodle. 

“All of a sudden, we discover this whole dog subculture that we had not really paid attention to before.  All the things dogs liked to do, all the stuff you could buy them, all the people we met through walking the dog,” he explained. 

In February, Wright and his wife were at Avalon returning a purchase when they came upon a modest-sized dog park. Wright’s wife suggested having something like that at Town Green would be great. 

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

“Later that day, I texted the City Manager [Brian Johnson] about the idea, and he really liked it.  At the time, the playground (the one that opened in August 2022) was under construction, and we were already discussing other ideas to create activation at the Town Center, so this fit right into that plan,” said Wright.

The assistant City Manager, Seth Yurman, was tasked with the nuts and bolts and worked with a contractor on location and design. 

“Can’t say enough about what a great job Seth did. We have definitely had some supply chain delays, which resulted in an opening maybe 9 to 12 months later than originally hoped for, but it is finally open,” he added.

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

A couple more things are still left to do for the project, including installing a large sail cover over the stone entrance area. Construction of the Bone Bar is also on the agenda. This small bar will serve adult and non-adult beverages and likely…you guessed it? Treats for dogs. 

The new dog park is situated behind the CineBistro building near the Town Green. The Peachtree Corners Off-Leash Dog Park is approximately 9,000 square feet and is divided into sections for smaller and larger dogs, with natural and artificial turf areas.

Dog Park Ribbon Cutting photos by George Hunter

PTC Dog Park Rules

  • The dog park is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The dog park is CLOSED for maintenance every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Use of the dog park is at your own risk.  You are responsible for your dog and any injuries or damage caused by your dog.
  • All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • All dogs must wear a collar with a valid license and have current vaccinations required by law.
  • Please call 911 for all emergencies.
  • The small dog area is for dogs 30 pounds and under.  Dogs over 30 pounds must use the large dog area.
  • Dogs must stay on a leash until they are in the fenced-in areas of the dog park and must be off-leash while in the dog park.
  • Professional dog trainers may not use the dog park to conduct business.
  • No person shall bring more than three dogs at one time.
  • Please dispose of your dog’s waste in the receptacles provided. Remind others to do the same.
  • Dogs must always be under the control and supervision of their handler.
  • If your dog becomes aggressive, please leash the dog and exit the park immediately.
  • Gates must be closed after entrance and exit.
  • Dogs under six months old and female dogs in heat are not permitted.
  • Food (human and dog) and glass containers are not permitted, as are smoking, vaping and drug use.
  • Cats and other animals are not permitted.
  • Bikes, scooters, skateboards and motorized equipment are not permitted.
  • Violation of these rules may result in a ban from the dog park.

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Memorial Park Planned to Honor Memory of Late Peachtree Corners First Lady



To honor and remember Debbie Mason, the first and only first lady of Peachtree Corners, who passed away after a long battle with cancer, a memorial park is being built.
Debbie Mason with her Yorkie

To honor and remember Debbie Mason, the first and only first lady of Peachtree Corners, who passed away after a long battle with cancer, a memorial park is being built.

A Peachtree Corners Arts Council subcommittee was formed to plan, develop and execute the park. Debbie Mason Memorial Park committee members include Lynette Howard, Robyn Unger, Bob Ballagh, Dave Huffman, Gay Shook, Sarah Roberts and Pat Bruschini.

“Lynette Howard led us in some brainstorming and creative sessions about what the garden should look like,” said Bruschini. “We had pictures of her backyard. Some of us had been to her backyard. It took a couple of months until we got a handle and feel for what we wanted the garden to be and what we thought [Mason] would want.”

One unique feature will be a Yorkie statue, Mason’s favorite dog, perched on top of a coffee table-like boulder encircled by granite benches. The brochure for the fundraising campaign will feature a photo of Mason and her beloved pet.

After looking at a few possible locations, a tract of land near the city’s botanical garden was chosen.

“The area where the park is going had been semi-developed,” said Buschini. “If you’re standing on the sidewalk with your back to the new dog park or your back to Cinebistro, you’ll see a granite semi-circle wall and steps that come down from Peachtree Corners Circle. We are enhancing that area.”

Debbie Mason Memorial Garden Plan Pikes plan showing Phase 1 and Phase 2

Everyone involved wanted the park to be near Town Center and accessible to everyone. So, an offshoot of the botanical garden, a property owned by the Downtown Development Authority, made the most sense, Bruschini added.

The park will be connected to Town Center with one entrance off Peachtree Corners Circle across from Davini Court.

“We have a complete plot plan designed by a landscape architect from Pike Nursery. Jennifer Freeman, a Duluth mosaic artist, created a mosaic design of the city logo,” said Bruschini.

The Debbie Mason Memorial Garden will be the city’s first park. Although there are other parks within city limits, this is the only one that will be owned and maintained by the city. 

To improve its access, the city is working with the Solis Apartment Complex being built nearby.

The plan is to have an extensive sidewalk connecting to the park. Construction of the park is underway and plant material will go in this fall. There will be a ribbon cutting and dedication shortly after that. 

But for now, the committee wants everyone to know that it’s coming and contributions are welcome. Find the wish list for the Debbie Mason Memorial Garden at the end of this article.

The memorial is fitting because Mason really was Peachtree Corners, said Bruschini.

“She was a volunteer extraordinaire,” she said. I met her on the board of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, and she headed up the Peachtree Parkway Improvement Project for six years. That’s where she would contact all the businesses along 141 and ask them to make a contribution so that the median strip could be maintained.”

Mason also co-founded the beloved Peachtree Corners Festival alongside Dave Huffman.

Garden Site Construction

In 2008, there was a tour of homes in Peachtree Corners, and the funds raised went to solar lights to light up the sign going into Peachtree Corners. Mason was front and center with that.  But she always had time for family, Bruschini said.

“Her son Nick was in drama at Norcross High School, and she was very involved in that. And she worked with the taste of Norcross High School going back, I’ll say, 20 years maybe,” she said.

“She and Mike started the Fox Hill Homeowners Association and she worked with the Peachtree Corners Yes campaign and served on the board of Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful as well as the City Arts Council and also the first City Green committee. This is fitting because she always wanted to make memories in Peachtree Corners,” she explained.

Garden Sponsorship Items

  • Mosaic Logo – $10,000
  • Mosaic River – (3) $5,000 each
  • Bronze Plaque – $3,000
  • Arbor – (3) $1,000 each
  • Japanese Maple – $800
  • Flowerpots full of color – (3) $500 each
  • Dogwoods (3) $500 each
  • Tea Olives – (6) $400 each
  • Yorkie Dog Statue – $300
  • Azalea/Hydrangeas (40) – $60 each

Garden Sponsorship Levels

  • $1000: Platinum
  • $500: Gold
  • $250: Silver
  • $100: Bronze
  • $50: Friends of the Garden

Ways to Donate
Checks are preferred and are payable to:
Peachtree Corners Arts, Inc. Attn: DMMC
PO Box 922469
Peachtree Corners, GA 30092

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