Do College Students Hurt or Help Beechwood Businesses?

Beechwood resident Lisa Young highly anticipates the holiday break .

Not, not necessarily for the Thanksgiving feast or the Christmas lights and carols. Rather, she looks forward to the day when the hundreds upon thousands of University of Georgia students return home for the extended holiday.

“It just gets so crowded during school time,” she said, as her two young daughters trailed behind her in the busy Fresh Market grocery aisle.  “A trip to Kroger or Fresh Market that would usually only take ten minutes takes so much longer because students are here.”

Young isn’t the only Beechwood resident who feels this way. In fact, the majority of businesses located along Alps Road in the Beechwood neighborhood agree that college students make up the majority of their revenue–and consequently, the majority of their headaches.

Patrick Wheeler, another Beechwood resident, agreed with Young’s sentiments. “Personally, I don’t really care for college students, as bad as that might be to say,” he said while eating with his wife at the Alps’ Road Chick-Fil-A. “They typically don’t clean after themselves and make this place a mess. Not all but most of them at least.”

However, most Beechwood businesses don’t mind the extra mess if it means more revenue.

“It definitely hurts when summer comes and college students go home,” Chipotle Manager De’Andre Johnson expressed. “They bring in a lot of revenue and give all the places here an added boost.”

Beechwood Hills: Did You Know?

Dr. Eugene Pleasants Odum (1913 – 2002) is best known at the University of Georgia as the namesake of the Odum School of Ecology. However, before his death, he was a beloved professor and an innovator in his field of ecology.

However, Odum doesn’t only leave a legacy at the University of Georgia, but also as a main contributor and creator of the Beechwood Hills neighborhood known today.

Beechwood Hills neighborhood association board member Anna Lau said that one of the most interesting facts about the Beechwood area is that Odum himself donated much of the land.

According to a 2003 article Online Athens, writer Kate Carter said that Odum made plans to donate 23 acres of land to the Beechwood area before his death. She said that Odum took great care in detailed instructions on how the land should be used and developed.
Passionate about the environment, Odum allowed for development on the land, but in ways that would keep the environment healthy and prosperous in a busy, populated area.

Carter says that the “strict development guidelines” included Odum’s requirement that “half the land must always remain as a conservation easement, or greenspace”.

Carter says in her article that Odum’s passion and “lifelong work with nature” are reflected in his instructions for respect and conservation for this deep, wooded and natural area.

Carter’s article can be read in full on Online Athens.

Neighborhood Association–What do they do?

“Reminder: Trash recycling will be Tuesday this week, instead of Thursday.” A post on the Beechwood Hills Neighborhood Association Facebook page let’s everyone knows of upcoming events, reminders, and other items.

For Anna Lau, it was her time she had available to volunteer to be one of the 9 members on the board of the association that made her become so aware of what’s happening in the neighborhood.

Currently there are a little over 200 homes in the Beechwood Hills area. The neighborhood association is responsible for bringing all 200 together and keeping everyone informed. One easy way for them to do that is through social media. There are 62 members of the Facebook group, most of which are residents with the addition of some Athens Clarke County Gov’t workers.

Other forms of social media used to communicate with residents and neighbors is a WordPress blog. On the blog they post new and relevant information pertaining to the neighborhood. Recently they discussed zoning changes proposed near Riverhill road, which is close to Beechwood, as well as missing pets and food drives they are participating in.

Along with social media, they hold 2 events every year to try to “keep in touch” with everyone.

“We have two get-together’s every year, a holiday party in the winter and a BBQ in the summer. They’re held at the Central Presbyterian Church and we also invite their members as well as the Talmadge Terrace members,” said Lau.

In addition to the two annual events, they also have different events that scatter throughout the year, in an effort for everyone to get to know one another in the community. The most recent was a “Beechwood Happy Hour” that was hosted at an individual house, with everyone welcome to stop by and enjoy in beverages and appetizers.

Along with planning these events the board meets to discuss neighborhood issues. “We discuss different items every time we meet,” said Lau.

“One issue that we handle is letting the neighborhood know about public works projects that are happening. About a year ago the city conducted a drainage project to help with draining the rainwater. Since then we haven’t had any issues with water or rain drainage,” said Lau.

Professor Pat Thomas, who also lives in the Beechwood Hills community, explained that the neighborhood is the “perfect place” for her to be. Although the neighborhood was built in the 50’s and 60’s, a time where sidewalks were not a number one priority, residents still feel safe to go on daily and nightly walks throughout the area.

It is evident once speaking to different members of the community that the neighborhood is a safe place to be.

An Oasis in the Middle of Athens

Located in the center of Athens, the Beechwood Hills neighborhood is a wooded haven in the middle of a busy college town.

Resident and professor at the University of Georgia Patricia Thomas said that her favorite part of living in Beechwood Hills is the proximity of the peaceful neighborhood to commercial areas of Athens.

“It feels like you’re in the North Carolina mountains,” she said. “But if you walk 10 minutes, you’re at a multiplex movie theatre.”

From movie theatres to grocery stores to workout facilities, the Beechwood area contains a variety of shopping centers and activities within walking distance, giving neighbors the privilege of a pedestrian community in the middle of Athens.

With sidewalks along West Lake Dr., the main road to the entrance of Beechwood Hills, walking to shopping centers is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Thomas says that her aging mother in her eighties who lives next door walks frequently to run errands.

“She goes to the CVS by herself and The Fresh Market by herself,” Thomas said.

Not only are residents seen walking to shopping centers, they’re also seen at any time of day walking their dogs, running, cycling, or walking with their children.

In the evenings, neighborhood children can be seen playing football in their yards or riding bikes down the smooth streets.

According to neighborhood association board member Anna Lau, neighbors don’t worry about traffic or speeding cars on residential streets.

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens, Beechwood Hills roads were designed to wrap around each other and eventually lead back to the main entrance. Because of the lack of thru streets, the neighborhood plan successfully prevents many speeding and traffic problems.

Although peaceful, one problem with the Beechwood Hills community is the lack of sidewalks and streetlights in the residential area. While both preside on the main road, West Lake Dr., none on residential streets creates difficulty safely walking outside after dark.


Thomas said that the lack of sidewalks is frustrating. She said when she gets home from work this time of the year and has to walk her dog, the sun has already set and there’s little light left. She said that when walking her dog, she always wears reflective bands on her arm so motorists can see her.

Even with the lack of streetlights, Beechwood Hills has an advantage over many other neighborhoods as a wooded haven where wildlife thrives.


With the lack of powerful lights, heavily wooded area, and proximity to the Middle Oconee River, Beechwood Hills residents are in the perfect location to experience diverse wildlife in their own backyards.

Some of the animals frequently seen in the neighborhood are screech owls, deer, foxes, raccoons, hawks, and the occasional coyote.

Because of heavily wooded area and proximity to the Middle Oconee River, Beechwood Hills residents are in the perfect location to experience diverse wildlife in their own backyards.

With its thriving wildlife, peaceful, pedestrian community, and proximity to one of Athens major commercial areas, Thomas says her neighborhood is unique, “I don’t think there’s very many neighborhoods that feel like that”.