By John Schaffner
On his first day on the job as the Atlanta BeltLine’s new design director, Fred Yalouris, sat through a discussion of the extension of the trail from Tanyard Creek Park north through the Howard Property and Memorial Park. He heard an earful from unhappy residents about the latest design being sent their way.
Once again, the representatives of surrounding neighborhoods came to the June 2 meeting and were presented for the first time with a new trail design by Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and the PATH Foundation, but they also were told this would be the last time there would be a meeting on the trail plan for this area.
A month before, the group meeting at the AGL Resources building at 10 Peachtree Place in Midtown, were shown three possible alignments for the path leaving Tanyard Creek Park and coursing north through the Howard property on Collier Road.
That path would then follow two branches—one leading a point of juncture with future path down Northside Drive and the other toward a future hookup at Deerwood Circle with an eventual path that will continue eastward across Peachtree Road.
However, at the June 2 meeting, the neighborhood representatives in the room were stunned—although pleased—to find out the spur leading along the backyards of residents on Overbrook Drive had been eliminated from the present design and build project.
The only real reason for eliminating that BeltLine PATH spur was an agreement between Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and the PATH Foundation and the possibility there were not enough funds at present to include it.
An aerial mapping of the trail route only included a large yellow arrow that pointed in the direction of Northside Drive and contained a reference to a future trail development.
When questioned about when that might be put back on the boards, Jonathan Lewis, the lead city planner on the project, referred the question to PATH Foundation Executive Director Ed McBrayer, who would simply state that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is planning to start the Northside Drive trail in December of 2009.
It was stated, however, that the spur will be part of the long-term BeltLine Master Plan.
Aside from that discussion, the other major points of contention for the evening revolved around the trees that are proposed to be cut down on Bobby Jones Golf Course in order to accommodate changes planned in the course to facilitate the planned trail, and the problems residents along Golf View Drive perceive will be caused by people driving to the trail head at Dellwood and parking to use the trail.
Lewis told the group that this would be the last scheduled meeting relating to this trail segment. However, he was reminded that Atlanta BeltLine Inc. CEO Terri Montague had outlined for the group at the previous month’s meeting new procedures. She had specifically stated that if ABI should get to a final plan and there is still community opposition, that the process reverts back to include additional changes and additional community input meetings.
Lewis said he would have to check to see if additional community input sessions would be possible and also assured residents they could have representatives attend meetings between Atlanta BeltLine Inc,, the PATH Foundation and American Golf, which has the lease on the Bobby Jones Golf Course from the city to discuss saving some of the trees marked for elimination.
Neighborhood Planning Unit-C chair Eric Ranney again challenged the procedure that is not involving the NPU membership into the decision-making process on this trail. Attending the meeting was Councilwoman Mary Norwood, who promised to check whether or not the council had already approved the trail route in its 2005 vote approving the BeltLine redevelopment plan.
Lewis pointed out that a separate steering committee for what is to be done with developing the Howard Property into a passive park will hold a meeting on June 19 .
Yalouris, 59, spent 11 years as director of architecture and urban design for the Big Dig, a $15 billion project in Boston before coming to Atlanta.