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Property Owners' Concerns to Be Included in Ga. 400 Trail Design

Livable Buckhead holding one-on-one meetings with community, CID board told

Property owners’ wishes will be incoporated into the Ga. 400 trail design,  Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling said Tuesday.

Presenting an update about the trail to the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s board, Starling said Livable Buckhead is starting one-on-one meetings with property owners whose yards abut the trail's path, which will run along Georgia DOT right of way.

“People think the trail is done, that it’s a fait accompli, but we don’t have a design,” she said. “We’re going to let property owners inform that design. It’s not done. We’re still two years away from construction.”

Starling said that property owners living beside the tral are expressing concerns. “It’s now about a lot of angst and a lot of questions out there,” she said, expressing confidence that the meetings will allay most worries.

Board members received copies of the that Livable Buckhead released Monday. Starling told the CID board that construction on the trail won’t begin until September 2013, “at the earliest.” It is to be completed by July 2014.

“We’re just now entering the real design for the trail,” she said. “Everything we’ve done so far is much more conceptual. We’re really now getting into the nitty gritty of it.”

Livable Buckhead has been meeting with representatives of GDOT, the PATH Foundation, the Georgia Regional Tollway Authority and Norfolk Southern Railway for approval of the trail's concept. The trail is a key component of the Buckhead Collection intitiative to increase greenspace in Councilman Howard Shook's District 7. Livable Buckhead, affiliated with the CID, is developing the trail. On Monday, the to facilitate the trail's development.

The GDOT right of way includes land that some property owners may think is part of their yards, she said. The right of way runs along the walls that buffer sound from the highway, she said.

"A lot of issues can be addressed" in the one-on-one meetings with property owners, Starling said, adding that “crime is a big one,” with people worried about criminals using the trail to get to houses and then escaping. She said studies show that “this is never the case, never on any trail.”

She said that some property owners “want it open so they can get on it, while others want a wall and a moat.”

Livable Buckhead is working with the Peachtree Park and North Buckhead civic associations in reaching out to residents, she said. According to the trail fact sheet, the approximately 5-mile-long trail will begin at the proposed trailhead on Loridans Drive and head south to the Atlanta Beltline's Peachtree Creek spur trail, passing by North Buckhead, Wieuca Trace and Peachtree Park, as well as Tower Place and the Lindbergh/Sidney Marus commercial area.

In other business, project manager Brian McHugh told the board that the CID is submitting a preapplication for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for $16.2 million that could be applied to the Peachtree Boulevard Phase 3 work from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue, and the Roswell-Peachtree Road intersection planning.

Board Vice Chairman John Lundeen asked whether the grant would delay funding already approved for the projects, but Executive Director Jim Durrett said that it wouldn’t affect plans in place.

“It’s s  longshot,” Durrett said of the TIGER effort, which McHugh characterized as a preapplication to receive approval to actually apply for the funds. “It wouldn’t be slowing down what we've done,” Durrett concluded.

Livable Buckhead Business Development Manager Tony Peters reported that 14 secuirty cameras in Buckhead should be operational by late April. Peters said that the contracting process for rooftop access from two buildings is nearly complete.

In other action, the board approved a $195,000 agreement with Parsons Brinckerhoff for development of a database that would show traffic patterns and other data in the Buckhead CID area and beyond, including Ga. 400. The database would predict how proposed development would affect traffic.

Lundeeen wondered how much the planning and engineering firm would charge for updating data, but Durrett said the cost would be minimal. He said the monthly charge would be incorporated into the agreement with the firm, whose Buckhead offices are in Tower Place, where the CID is also located.

The board approved the apopointment of Robin Suggs, area mall manager for Simon Property Group., to replace Simon’s Mike Romstad on the CID’s board.

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