To the editor:
I am appalled that a PATH trail would desecrate the key battlefield in Sherman’s 1864 assault on Atlanta. I am appalled that a PATH trail will dissect the meadow now used for pick-up softball and soccer, Frisbee football and dog romps.
I am appalled at the violation of a fragile floodplain ecosystem by those who forget the 1991 and 2003 floods which inundated Tanyard Creek Park.
I am appalled the city will no longer honor the promise of the former Beltline shill, now the city’s chief operating officer, that all Beltline projects would be subject to customary neighborhood and NPU (neighborhood planning unit) review.
Finally, I am appalled that the only community input now wanted is from two designees, one of whom is the “President” of a long-defunct neighborhood association no longer recognized by NPU-C for failure to comply with minimal democratic procedures.
After the PATH Foundation’s disastrous construction of the “PATH to Nowhere” between Peachtree Battle and Sagamore at the beginning of this decade, the Bureau of Planning realized the need for community buy-in on any extension south to the planned trail. To that end, Councilperson Clair Muller solicited eight neighborhoods (Peachtree Battle, Woodfield, Memorial Park, Springlake, Channing Valley, Collier Hills, Collier Hills North and Ardmore Park) to propose their preferred route south. I was a Channing Valley representative and attended 14 of 15 meetings at Piedmont Hospital, all route walks and all public hearings.
The result was limited consensus to extend the PATH trail along Northside Drive to the entrance of the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center. Public meetings were held to solicit residents’ input. The vote of the boards of residents of all eight neighborhood associations approved such extension, which approval was ratified by NPU-C.
Further consensus on a preferred route south of Bitsy Grant was not possible because of factual uncertainties regarding the availability of the “Howard property” at Overbrook and Collier roads, GDOT’s proposed reconstruction of Northside Drive, the availability of railroad right-of-way adjacent to Piedmont Hospital and in Tanyard Creek Park, and the feasibility of a tunnel under Collier above Tanyard Creek.
But there were other reasons for the group’s limited success. First, the lure of federal, state and private money caused the bureau to moderate the meetings with a pro-PATH agenda with a fixed destination of Ardmore Park. “No-build” and alternative destinations were never options.
Second, Muller’s early promise that no neighborhood would be forced to host a PATH trail promoted extreme “NIMBY”ism. The bureau later disavowed Muller’s promise by adopting PATH surveys which required the trail to traverse the field side of Tanyard Creek Park.
Finally, the appointees of at least two neighborhoods were undisclosed affiliates or supporters of PATH. Their subverted loyalties resulted in blockage of serious consideration of proposals not acceptable to PATH and a lack of objective presentation of their neighborhoods’ interests.
Beltline CEO Terri Montague would do well to respect our residents for this first project. She is creating enemies to the Beltline who will fight her for the next 20 years. Fascist expediency allowed reform of the Italian rail system; but even Mussolini was eventually hung. Montague’s dismissal of democratic procedures to realize on-ground results for Mayor Franklin will soon elect successor mayors and councilpersons who have no sympathy for the Beltline.
Michael A. Kilgore