Organized neighborhood opposition to the Ga. 400 trail emerged Thursday night with a slide show not on the agenda at the North Buckhead Civic Association's 40th annual meeting.
After a scheduled Livable Buckhead presentation about its plans for the trail, homeowner Leanne West of Glengary Drive stood up and asked to show her presentation to the group.
West said she represents 44 families in the Loridans Drive-Glengary area who strongly oppose the project and have set up a Facebook page, "Concerned Citizens About Livable Buckhead's Ga. 400 Trail Project." Livable Buckhead's plans call for the trailhead to be placed at Loridans besides Ga. 400 in a wooded area near the historic Lowry-Stevens cemetery.
Little, a research scientist at Ga. Tech and parent of an 8-year-old son, outlined a range of objections to the trail, from worries about crime, to removal of trees and dishonoring of the African-American cemetery, many of whose graves are unmarked, she said. She said she represents 86 houses opposed to the trail.
"You're really having bad results for many families in the area," she said.
A key concern is that the Loridans trailhead would cause users to park on Glengary, a deadend street.
"My street is going to be a parking lot," West said.
Livable Buckhead consultant Carlos F. Perez of AECOM said in a presentation said that the trailhead could be developed with a range of amenities, from a parking lot, pavilions and restrooms to a mininally developed area.
Perez and Zone 2 Commander Maj. Robert Browning said that research shows trails don't cause crime. In his presentation, Carlos showed slides of another Buckhead PATH trail, at Tanyard Creek, which runs near homes. He and Browning said the Tanyard Creek trail has little if any crime problems.
"I don't have any real security concerns about the (Ga. 400) trail," Browning said. "I feel very comfortable." Browning, who said he'd met with Perez and Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling about security issues, said the 5-mile rail would be closed from dusk to dawn and that it would be easier to patrol a developed trail than the now overgrown, wooded areas along Ga. 400.
But West and other homeowners near the trail continued to express crime fears, such as the trail would veer near backyard swingsets, and attract predators of children. Browning, cautioning that crime can occur at any place, expressed doubts that pedophiles would flock to the trail.
Others said expressed worries about the trail's end at Peachtree Creek near Towers Liquor and the Piedmont-Morosgo Drive Corridor, perceived as an area for criminals who could use the trail to come to north Buckhead. Another fear expressed was that the trail would increase access to property from MARTA, whose trains run down Ga. 400.
Livable Buckhead secretary and NPU-B chairperson Sally Silver in response to the MARTA comments said from the audience, "MARTA's already in your backyard," citiing the Lenox and Buckhead stations. Property owners responded "MARTA's not in our backyard."
West called for the Ga. 400 trail to begin at Mountain Way, although she wryly admitted that homeowners there likely wouldn't be too happy with the proposal. She said the Mountain Way site would have more open space for the trailhead.
North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain has proposed that a park be developed in open space beneath the Ga. 400 overpass at Mountain Way. The park is envisioned having a connection to the Ga. 400 trail.
The trail is being developed by Livable Buckhead in conjunction with the Buckhead Community Improvement District, whose legal boundaries have been extended to Loridans because of the trail, and PATH. Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett and PATH Exective Director Ed McBrayer both attended the meeting.
Earlier in the evening, Certain presented results of a Ga. 400 trail survey that showed strong support for the project from residents who don't live near the trail. (Full disclosure: I, Buckhead Patch editor Louis Mayeux, lives about a half mile from Ga. 400 in several directions. I am a longtime member of the North Buckhead Civic Association, dating back to before Ga. 400 was even extended into Buckhead. I didn't participate in the survey.)
Perez emphasized that the trail is now in its preliminary design stages and that changes will be made in response to community concerns.
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