By Terri Y. Montague
President & CEO
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

In January, after seven months of community dialogue about a trail within Tanyard Creek Park, already a seven-year old discussion inherited by Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI), we expressed our readiness to continue to listen and to respond to lingering concerns. In the three months since, ABI, PATH Foundation, the city and the community worked cooperatively and resourcefully to identify a trail route that balances environmental sustainability and transit connectivity.

We are pleased that the resulting compromise solution for the Tanyard Creek Park trail segment reduces impacts to trees, the stream bank and the meadow.

Our collaboration will continue as the community works with ABI, the city and the PATH Foundation to obtain a Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) stream bank buffer variance for the project. The community will raise funds to offset tree recompense and other costs for this route and will work with us on a volunteer tree planting day anticipated in the fall.

(We have agreed with the community that if EPD refuses a variance, we will pursue the trail route that hugs the eastern edge of the park, subject to approval from the Corps of Engineers. If both options fail to secure approval, the teams will revisit other trail route alternatives.)

The discussions over the past few months are the continuation of a dialogue in which we have listened to the community and responded. Previously, two potential bridge crossing locations and one entire trail alignment were eliminated in direct response to community input. As we continue planning the next trail segment extending from Tanyard Creek Park– and trails throughout the BeltLine – we will continue to balance neighborhood desires and city-wide needs.

The final alignment for the adjoining trail extending to Northside Drive and Dellwood Drive is not established.

On Monday, April 7, we reviewed a preliminary concept to solicit community input. In that discussion, ABI, the city, and PATH agreed with the vast majority of participants on how the trail: passes under Collier Road; traverses the Howard Property; crosses Tanyard Creek to the forested property behind Golfview Drive; gets from Northside Drive through the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center; and runs along Golfview Drive and along the Golf Course to Dellwood Drive.

We received valuable input on ways to protect the trees in the forested property behind Golfview Drive; and ideas on how to maintain the golf course’s yardage with fewer tree impacts.

Our next study group meeting in this area will occur on May 5, where we will present revised plans informed by the community input we’ve received.

In the planning process, we are ever mindful that each community voice represents in one person the view from a particular neighborhood and the view of someone who will enjoy a great trail and transit experience around the city. The BeltLine must balance that view with the one from the trail, too – in addition to our obligation to future generations and the environment.

The BeltLine represents an opportunity to more deliberately attract and organize development around transit and greenspace. It is an ambitious project that weaves together neighborhoods; bundles daunting challenges including transit connectivity, greenspace expansion, economic development and affordable housing; and incorporates myriad existing urban planning and development challenges.

And the key to the way it does so is collaboration: collaboration between neighborhoods and the BeltLine; collaboration among the BeltLine and many City departments; and collaboration between the public and private sectors more generally.

We are pleased to be proceeding in cooperation with the community.