By John Schaffner
The few people who knew about and attended the BeltLine’s Northside Study Group meeting Sept. 8 were told that work will begin in a month on the PATH through Tanyard Creek Park and Atlanta Memorial Park and that the transit part of the BeltLine was removed from the master plan because it will be covered as part of a environmental impact study being conducted by MARTA and Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI) to consider the social, environmental and economic effects that could result from BeltLine trails and transit implementation.
Those attending the meeting were told that public forums had been held to obtain citizen input on the environmental impact study, although those regulars at the study group meetings — who are supposed to be on the meeting notification list — said they were not informed of those meetings and, according to one neighborhood representative, no information was provided Sept. 8 from the meetings.
Peachtree Hills neighborhood representative Frank Sommers said the group was told of a survey online at www.beltline.org that can be filled out and submitted to MARTA and ABI.
But he said residents have only until Sept. 22 to return the form with their input on the study.
Sommers said those at the Sept. 8 meeting were given 45 minutes to view maps at the back of the room that were mostly the same as those the study group members have looked at for more than a year. They even included three PATH options for trails involving property owned by Brookwood Hills that neighbors said they would never accept, Sommers said.
Brookwood Hills residents have threatened legal action to keep the BeltLine from implementing those plans.
It was announced that drawings for the Tanyard Creek Park and Atlanta Memorial Park PATH are 95 percent completed. That controversial trail project is a partnership among Atlanta BeltLine Inc., the PATH Foundation and the city of Atlanta’s Parks Department. About a mile long, it begins at Ardmore Park and runs north to Bobby Jones Golf Course, ending at Dellwood Drive, touching the Howard Property on Collier Road at Tanyard Creek.
It was pointed out that PATH Executive Director Ed McBrayer had said construction on that PATH would not start until CSX approved the trail crossing under its rail trestle at the southern end of the park.
Asked by a study group member attending the meeting whether CSX had approved that link under its trestle, Jonathan Lewis, the city of Atlanta planner heading up the Northside portion of the BeltLine master plan, said the person would have to ask McBrayer. Lewis said the trail segment would not become a major discussion during that meeting, according to Sommers.
Sommers said it looks to him as if everything about the master plan is still up for debate, including elements that the neighborhoods vehemently oppose and thought had been removed or changed.
Those attending the meeting were told there will be another meeting Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Piedmont Hospital to provide a second opportunity to review and discuss the recommendations for the Northside subarea of the master plan. That meeting will be held in the McRae auditorium at the hospital, which is at 1984 Peachtree Road.
Lewis said the BeltLine master plan will go to the Neighborhood Planning Units for a vote in January, then to the Atlanta City Council for approval.