By Amy Wenk
amywenk@reporternewspapers.net

The design for Buckhead’s newest park was revealed at the Nov. 4 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit C (NPU-C).

Pat Katz, principal landscape architect for the city’s park design office, presented the master plan for the Howard Property, off Overbrook Drive and Collier Road.

The city acquired the 5-acre tract in 2006 for Atlanta BeltLine Inc. as the link between Tanyard Creek Park and the Bobby Jones Golf Course. The property belonged to Jim and Louise Howard, who bought the land in 1963 and who wanted to donate the land for green space.

The master plan, which was developed this summer by a committee of 15 community and city representatives, attempts to coordinate more than $200,000 in park improvements with the construction of the BeltLine trail. It will be voted on at the Dec. 3 meeting of NPU-C at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

A noticeable element of the proposal is the 12-foot-wide concrete trail that follows the creek bank on the east side of the land. The path will run underneath Collier Bridge to Tanyard Creek Park in the south.

“The reason why it goes underneath is from a safety factor,” Katz said. “Midblock crossings are difficult, and also because it needs to be ADA-accessible,” complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act, to receive federal highway dollars.

She said the plan calls for the reforestation of the property, as well as the planting of native shrubs and perennials.

“Because of the tree impact law and the path going through Tanyard Creek on the heavily wooded side, there are a lot of trees that are impacted,” Katz said. If more than 20 percent of a tree’s roots are cut, then it has to be replaced inch for inch. “And this project … has hundreds of inches that need to be replaced.”

Two of the signature trees selected are the sycamore and the musclewood (also called blue beech), which will be planted in the flood plain. Katz said the trees will have a 2½-to-3-inch caliber, which is the diameter of the tree at chest height.

Native shrubs such as cherry laurel and perennials, including Christmas fern, will be planted along the BeltLine trail to soften the concrete edges. In addition, the eradication of such invasive plants as kudzu and English ivy is a priority, Katz said.

One meeting attendee expressed concern about an ash tree with a 48-inch diameter in the southern portion of the property. The tree stands at the foot of the hill where the asphalt drive dwindles to a gravel road. The resident feared construction of the BeltLine trail would damage the tree.

“I can’t answer how PATH Foundation is staging their work,” said Katz, adding that since the area is covered in gravel, no excavation will be required in that section of the trail. She stayed after the meeting to further discuss the matter.

The plan also calls for mulch trails that begin in the northwest portion of the property, offering a second entrance off Overbrook Drive. The trails continue into the center of the land, forming the border of an open lawn where the residence of the Howard family once sat.

The existing driveway will be retained, forming the other boundary of the lawn and providing an access road for maintenance vehicles. There will be no parking for visitors.

Low granite walls will border the property on the sides facing traffic, and masonry pillars will adorn the entrances.

Improvements like a gazebo, picnic tables and benches will be added through neighborhood fundraising and grants.