Is there a Tanyard Creek Park option?

The following letter was sent to Ed McBrayer, executive director of the PATH Foundation, in response to the page 1 story that appeared in the July 27-August 9 edition of the Buckhead Reporter.


Several friends of mine shared a news story from this week on the Tanyard Creek Park trail extension. It is disappointing that PATH seems to insist on this route, and I admit that I don’t understand why the route must be so firm?

Everyone who knows PATH’s history appreciates its tenacity and vigor. But it would be great if that same tenacity were applied to an alternative route.

Tanyard Creek Park is one of only a few passive, undisturbed and truly bucolic greenspaces in the city of Atlanta. However one may view the Civil War, the park is historic and holds the blood of many American soldiers. One of Atlanta’s loveliest neighborhoods has evolved around the park, with hundreds of families using it as a safe place to play catch and Frisbee, to picnic, and to relax on a blanket and just stare at the sky.

It is best enjoyed in its present (and long time) state.

As you have experienced, Atlanta is not the kind of area that easily lends itself to building amenities. The region has been built backwards—with roads and freeways and shopping malls first, followed by efforts to build parks and trails and public transit systems afterwards.

Sometimes we have to tear down neighborhoods to get greenspace, such as my neighborhood and Freedom Park. That’s why it’s so important to preserve Tanyard Creek Park. What an amenity it will be to cyclists, joggers and everyone else if it stays the way it is. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Lee Echols

The Echols Group

Should we map out an alternative?

To Lee Echols:

This is a beautiful letter. Do you think it would help for you and I to map out and learn alternative routes for the path, like to the west bank of Tanyard Creek Park? We would need to learn the property lines. Then we could have lunch with Ed (my expense) and walk the route with him.

I do realize that the latest article I emailed you says he is insistent that there is no alternative route. I am trying to see it from his point of view—it is cheaper for him to cut right through the meadow. Another route could include wheelchair access up at Piedmont hospital and go down by the golf course.

I am afraid his heart is not in the right place. It is not the handicaps he wants to please but the cyclists.

You mentioned during the last lunch we had, that Atlanta has fewer parks and green spaces than most cities in the U.S. We really can’t afford to lose this space. They paved the dirt path at the Chattahoochee National Park area off of Cobb Parkway. There is so little dirt left to walk on in Atlanta.

Lee, thank you so much for your support!

Martha King

PATH director responds to letter writers

To Lee and Martha:

Thank you for your thoughtful letters guys. I know both of you have noble causes and truly believe what you have expressed. I must respond to some of the notions presented or implied since you have copied everyone with your thoughts.

First of all, my “heart” is not involved here. I am dedicated to doing a good job of building a connected trail system for the city, including the BeltLine Trail. I have no ulterior motives, just a keen desire to finish what I started 15 years ago.

We have investigated every possible alternative to connect a trail through northwest Atlanta; not to avoid the park necessarily, but to find the best routing for the trail. We have found no magical alternative that satisfies everyone and still provides a feasible, buildable, desirable trail in this part of town.

Understand, the city and TPL (Trust for Public Land) are spending millions of dollars buying land so the BeltLine can be one continuous park, not just a transit corridor.

The BeltLine represents the City’s effort to connect green space, existing and new.

So squeezing it behind the parking deck at Piedmont Hospital or having it be a wide sidewalk along a busy street is not desirable and in our opinion, not a viable option. We want the trail to connect parks and be a park itself.

I take exception to several other statements in these letters:

1. We (PATH) did not pave anything at Chattahoochee National Recreation Area.

2. References to Tanyard being tranquil and safe imply it will be noisy and dangerous if we build the trail. Your letter sounds pretty but paints a distorted picture. We contend a trail meandering along one side of the meadow won’t alter the tranquility and will make the park safer than it is today. It may force the unauthorized dog park to close and result in less dog feces on your shoes but it certainly won’t ruin the park.

3. We are completing an historic, archaeological, and cultural resource study for the proposed route. Our initial studies indicate we will not be treading on blood stained soil from the war. We will complete our due diligence before doing any disturbance.

4. By introducing our trail to the area, we will be creating more tranquil, grassy picnic areas than exist today. The Howard property will be added to the park inventory as will the cathedral woods area. We are adding park space not destroying it as implied in your letter.

Lee, although your letter may be “beautiful”, it is factually flawed and paints a distorted image of present conditions and future activity.

Nothing will stop you from gazing at the sky or having a picnic in the park after the trail is built. We look forward to working with the neighbors to plan and build a great trail in the park. I am sorry it will not have your support.

Ed McBrayer

PATH Foundation