By Katie Fallon

Although plans for the Abernathy Greenway linear park are still in the preliminary design phase, a majority of residents have selected the informal plan concept as their preferred design.

PBS&J, the design firm hired to submit three concepts for the park, held their third information meeting March 27 and concentrated on highlighting the elements of the informal design. The firm also created a low impact design, which had fewer site elements, and a formal design, which had the greatest number of modifications and construction costs.

Roughly 75 residents attended the meeting and their concerns ranged from safety and traffic to buffers and maintenance. PBS&J designer Bill Eviston said that of 246 respondents who took the firm’s online survey, 51 percent chose the informal design as their favorite. Similarly, 50 percent of residents who attended the previous public meetings indicated they too preferred the informal design.

One concern raised was the cost of the park. Because plans are still preliminary, there are no definitive cost estimates. PBS&J project manager John Boudreau, said the park will not be cheap because it requires the redevelopment of approximately 20 acres of land.

“They’re fairly costly,” Boudreau said. “The low impact plan is a $5 million park. The formal design and informal design are in excess of $10 million.”

Boudreau said the firm will break the cost of the park into phases and present phase 1 plans to the city council in May.

Deputy public works director John Drysdale said the city has an $8.5 million budget for acquiring properties on Abernathy Road. The park is expected to stretch from Johnson Ferry Road to Roswell Road.

Another concern is the effect the park’s development will have on the existing trees in the area. Boudreau said the intent is to keep as many trees as possible in addition to the ones that will be added as part of the park’s design.

“Out goal is to preserve the specimen trees within the boundaries,” Boudreau said. “We’re not here to take down trees.”

Boudreau said his firm had an arborist visit the area of the park and identify, tag and note the condition of all specimen trees in the area.

“As the plan continues to develop, we’ll be looking at enhancing the quality of those trees,” Boudreau said. “Some of them may need to be pruned, thinned out or removed depending on the condition.”

Many residents milled about council chambers at City Hall to examine the various renderings posted by PB&J. Ann Feldman, who lives in the Mount Aire neighborhood, carefully examined an informal design rendering that showed the concept’s different opportunities and constraints.

“I’m just concerned about how the traffic is going to affect us,” Feldman said.

While looking at the same rendering, Geraldine Woodward said her house was in the direct path of the 20-acre area planned for the park. She, however, was not concerned with the various aspects of any of the plans, but rather being uprooted.

“I’m not going to move until they make me,” Woodward said.