Love your Stone Mountain!

I brought my family to Stone Mountain from Columbia SC in 1985.  My oldest child was only six months old.  At that time, Stone Mountain was the bedroom community of Atlanta.  The best homes, the best shopping, the best law enforcement…it was the place to be.  We had our little starter home built and were happy as could be. Everything we could ever want (shopping, dining) was right in our back yard.

But quickly, and I repeat quickly, it only took two years for the other first-homers to flee north.  They kept telling me it was for cultural reasons, which made no sense to me because we were a very diverse neighborhood!  This is what made it so appealing to me.  Sadly and with great disdain, I watched folks pack up and move and completely desert what we had established. Some fled by totally abandoning their homes! My great little neighborhood was consumed by renters and investors who cared nothing for their properties, albeit they were definitely interested in what was in the others! 

As my boys grew, we outgrew the house, and I moved a mere 9/10 of a mile into a larger home, because I love this area.  It’s so convenient!  Then the restaurants left.  I distinctly remember the Chili’s on Memorial Drive.  One night there was a 30 minute wait for a table, and the very next day the windows were boarded up.  The indoor kiddie playplace was razed and an extended-stay hotel was put in its place. Target left, Kroger moved, Olive Garden closed and Steak & Ale fled. In their places were empty, abandoned properties or pawn shops.  There was no place to shop or eat anymore.

It became a vast nightmare for those of us still hanging on to what once was, and what I believe can be again.  BUT….it will not happen overnight, and it requires community involvement.

And fortunately, in the face of all this, some continue to try and stay afloat.  With the economy, we’re all stuck where we’re at.  And this, my friends, is exactly the vehicle we can use to bring our community back to what it once was!  I hear people talking about “walking away” from their homes.  Not me!  I have a nice home in a terrific neighborhood.  Where could I get what I have and be able to afford it?  Nowhere!  The market has tanked so quickly and so deeply no one can recover for some time.  Most of us are “upside down” in our homes. So we must simply grab the life jacket and hang on and swim for dear life.  That is to say, re-invest in your home.  Love it with all your heart.  Appreciate the fact that you have a home, and make the most of it.

This is how neighborhoods go down, people lose interest and stop caring, and move on, much akin to throwing out the bathwater with the baby. 

But all is not lost, and I encourage you to patronize what we still have. I can personally vouch for each: 

* Were you aware the Applebee’s on Memorial is the first and original Applebee’s?  Their service is great, the food is delectable and the menu continues to improve. It is truly a neighborhood bar and grille, as me and my boys go at least once a week and see the same friendly faces in this fun meeting place. They even have karaoke on Wednesdays!

* Chick-fil-a continues to contribute to the community, and will always be a friendly and safe place to break bread or take your kids to eat and play.  They are
committed to this neighborhood, and always participate in community events.

* Quik Trip wants to expand! This is one place that is constantly cleaning, offers terrific snack and quick food items, and did I mention their coffee is absolutely the best (beats Starbucks by miles) and least expensive!

* Piccadilly Cafeteria…talk about friendly!  And the food!  Some things never change.  I love Piccadilly, and you should too.  Their carrot soufflé puts a sweet potato casserole to shame.

*Little Caesers Pizza – where else can you get a mouth-watering pizza for $5, no wait? (OK, I have to admit, I miss the ambience of Pizza Hut…) but this pizza has definitely taken its place.

* Hal’s Package (next to Applebee’s).  No friendlier service, and the prices are

So all is not lost.  Please, I beg you, re-invest in your community.  Stay and play, make this area what it once was, let’s take it back. Get involved in community events.  Reach out, smile to your neighbors, smile at other patrons and service workers.  Dekalb County workers are some of the most caring and friendly County employees I know.  The police department is under new management, and totally community-focused.

In closing, I love this area, and that’s why I stay.  I am committed to the community, and to the residents of this great County.  I will continue to do whatever I can, be it great or small, to keep it moving forward, not back, in hopes of total restoration.  I hope you will consider the same.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

f edwards September 15, 2011 at 05:11 PM
I agree. My family and I have taken the opportunity to invest in our home during these times of both uncertainty and opportunity. We have committed to doing our part to make our community/neighborhood what we would like for it to be. We love the area that we live in. If you wish for your community/neighborhood to thrive then you MUST make a conscious decision to participate in the process. Cheers,
Bonnie October 02, 2011 at 01:32 PM
I too moved my young family to the area in 1988. All of our neighbors moved away within a few years, some because of the recession, others citing "too many" african-americans moving into the area. My next door neighbor even apologized, stating that no white families were looking to move in. As white residents, we got "the memo", but chose not to join the herd. We also watched Memorial Drive decline, as it was hit by the double whammy of a new median (a la Jimmy Carter Blvd) and the '91 recession. Businesses disappeared like falling dominos. Remember K-Mart? Pace Warehouse? Kinney Shoes? Food World? Lionel Playworld? Morrison's Cafeteria? Sports Town?. And the Home Depot and Roberd's across from the jail. All gone. Eventually, we stopped trying to shop on Memorial Drive, as did our neighbors. I love my neighborhood and my neighbors. All of our children have grown up and we're all a little grayer. We have become friends and watch over each other's property. We continue to maintain our property because even after losing $70K in equity, we've gotten a bargain on our cost of housing. Still, we do need to downsize and would love to sell this home to another young family so they can enjoy this wonderful neighborhood. I read somewhere that Wal Mart is looking to build on Memorial Drive near Hairston. That would be a great first step and would bring us back to Memorial Drive, and maybe attract new families as well.
Msgoff October 24, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Wonderful blog! What you have written tugged at my "heart strings." This is what I referred to in my comment on the article re WalMart considering another property. We have to stop destroying our neighborhoods, owners and renters alike!! We should all want a nice, clean, safe neighborhood with excellent schools and shopping.
Marguerite Girard February 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Great comment, and totally agree. We're not living here because we're stuck, we're living here because we choose to. I remember all that you cited, and I also believe the Kroger location would be a great benefit to this area and start new merchants down the right road.
Lucas Roberts February 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Enforce Enhance Empower Endure Four simple words, if followed could turn Stone Mountain Village and area to what it once was. Enforce existing ordinances and laws. Traffic enforcement, loitering, and quality of life laws. Enforcing simple, existing laws will bring cash into the system and increase the quality of life for everyone. Simple quality of life actions like, parking in the direction of traffic, illegal signs, and cleaning up your own property will start to help and educate people. Enhance Review existing conditions and evaluate what could be done to improve the area. Example: Memorial Drive. Two things that could begin to help this area are simple. Bury power lines and infill concrete medians with green landscaping. Physical appearance says a lot about a place. Future business prospects look at the here and now - not what was. Numerous power lines says - we do by care what 12 different lines look like, we grow on an as needed basic and do it when we have to. Concrete medians say we are to lazy to have grass - that requires maintenance and we do not want to maintain this area. Therefore, we get what we have today.
Lucas Roberts February 15, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Empower Empower people to volunteer. Push the idea of One DeKalb from a government run idea - to a public held action. Promote Keep DeKalb Beautiful. Promote communications like the patch to inform and teach residents. Empower emerging business to move to the area with tax credits. Businesses that the area needs - not pawn shops and beauty shops. Endure Review the mess that got us into this situation. Change hosing law to discourage developers coming into an area, clear cutting land and forcing sub standard housing in where there is no social infrastructure to sustain a healthy community. Update the programs. Clean the streets and curbs (Stone Mountain - Lithonia) Bring in new people and unique points of view I know the recommendations listed above are brief, and will not solve the problem if done, but I would be a great start! Enforce Enhance Empower Endure
Erey February 07, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I too would love to bring my community back I LOVE my neighbors and the convenience of the neighborhood. I would also love to participate in community gatherings but I just don't hear about them until after the fact, what can I do better to get involved? What is going on with PRISM? Is there a website I can go to to find updated day by day info on what is going on in our community. I just found the Patch and love it but the info is not all there.


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