By John Schaffner
The Chastain Park Civic Association (CPCA) approved the park master plan recommendations of the Chastain Park Conservancy at its Jan. 28 meeting and discussed drafting a position statement to be sent to the city recommending the closing of Park Drive to all vehicle traffic one hour after sunset.
The proposal to close Park Drive after dark was in response to a reported carjacking and shooting that took place on the road around 8 p.m. on Jan. 3, during which a 17-year-old was shot and wounded.
CPCA President Jim King, paraphrasing Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell’s well-known comment that “nothing good happens in Buckhead bars after midnight,” said “nothing good happens on Park Drive after sunset.”
King told the group of some 50 or more residents from Buckhead and Sandy Springs neighborhoods that surround Chastain Park that Zone 2 Atlanta Police commander Major James Sellers “said it was our wake up call.”
It was pointed out that the road previously was closed off following a shooting of a woman there in 1997. No one seemed to know exactly why the gates used to block off the road had been removed.
CPCA Security Chair Todd Davis reported there also had been a series of car break-ins in the area a week or so after the Jan. 3 shooting on Park Drive.
King pointed out that all types of activities go on along Park Drive after dark. “I don’t believe Park Drive should be open after dark,” he said.
It was also pointed out that speeding is a problem along Park Drive and that if the road is closed, the Atlanta police would need to step up their patrols on West Wieuca.
While the group spent a significant amount of time discussing the Park Drive issue, more time was spent reviewing the Chastain Park Master Plan recommendations, including a recap of the history of the park’s development and the involvement of CPCA.
Bill Kasper, who chaired the organization’s committee that reviewed the master plan proposals developed by the Conservancy with public input, said, “99 percent of the plan had wonderful recommendations.” He said the EDAW consulting firm had been chosen to pull together the plan and “has done a great job.” He pointed out the final report is about 300 pages.
Kasper pointed out that the plan pushes off many of the big issues to the future for someone else to deal with.
Expressing some surprise, Kasper said the proposed parking deck in the gulch adjacent to the ballfields and behind the proposed recreation or community center received little opposition through the polling done and public input sessions. He said that may allow such parking decks to be added to other facilities as well.
The main issue, he said, is the park is maxed out—there is not enough room to add to the park. It was pointed out, however, that if the golf course is redesigned in the future it could free up some land in the park.
The most contentious aspect of the plan was a proposed restroom facility adjacent to the PATH trail along Lake Forrest Drive that could be used by both PATH users and golfers. Residents along Lake Forrest voiced concerns about policing of the use of the restroom for illicit activities.
Also, neighbors near the Amphitheater are opposed to a proposal for the Blue Lot at the venue to be decked for parking, citing increased noise that would result from the added cars parked for concerts, etc.