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Buckhead Coalition Celebrates 25 Years of Serving Community

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Some doubted it would last for longer than a year or two, but in March, the Buckhead Coalition will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The group has solidified its place as the community's leading civic and economic booster.

"It's a feeling of pride," said Buckhead Coalition President and Founder Sam Massell. "When we first started, the founders questioned whether the idea, formula, would work."

That formula included that the group was an exclusive invitation-only organization of no more than 100 Atlanta-area CEOs, who paid relatively high annual dues, Massell explained.

The dues are currently $6,250 per year.

Massell and other Buckhead Coalition founders were not sure if they would have enough support.

"It has worked very well indeed, and we have had very few difficulties. The success has built on itself," said Massell, a civic leader who has more than 22 years of experience as an elected official, including his eight years as Atlanta City Council president and four years as the city's mayor.

So, how does an organization maintain stability and grow success over a quarter of a century, especially in one of the fastest growing areas in the U.S.?

Massell said the answer is simple– capable leadership and strict adherence to an unchanging mission.

He said members of the Coalition have created a guide that can be used as a training program for interested individuals hoping to use Buckhead Coalition as a model for a similar organization in their own cities.

"The key to success in a community is leadership," Massell said.

The Coalition's mission is to enhance and nurture the quality of life in Buckhead with care for both residential and commercial interests.

From purchasing bike racks for Atlanta Police Zone 2 officers, to taking aim at potholes, creating the Buckhead Community Improvement District and helping local schools in numerous ways, the Buckhead Coalition consistently gives back to every aspect of the Buckhead community and beyond.

The State Senate commended the Coalition in April for its proposed $10,000 grant to the first Buckhead gas station to also offer compressed natural gas (CNG).

Massell said the group's lobbying for the GA 400 extension through Buckhead was the Coalition's "most important undertaking for the Buckhead community."

He said Coalition members were key players in endorsing the extension, which "cemented the economic well-being of Buckhead forevermore."

After the extension was approved and constructed, Buckhead's traffic decreased by 20 percent. The amount of traffic has since increased again, but had the extension not been approved, traveling through Buckhead would have been much more difficult, Massell explained.

"Some of our adversaries at the time thought we'd dissolve. Here we are 25 years later, and we haven't dissolved," Massell said, adding that the group has taken steps to help improve traffic flow on GA 400 in 2013.

Although neighborhoods were "pretty upset" when the group supported GA 400, Massell said the group has rebuilt its relationship with the 40 or so neighborhoods that make up Buckhead.

"We are going to do more with and for the neighborhoods in the year ahead," he said.

In the next 25 years, Massell does not expect "any dramatic change in the way we're operating" since the organization has seen such success thus far. However, Massell said he does expect one change.

"I see us continuing to grow," he said.

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