By Louis Mayeux
Neighborhood Planning Unit C at its Nov. 3 meeting voted against approving the massive Atlanta Greenspace plan, requesting six months to digest the program that would significantly increase the city’s recreational space.
“Who could be against greenspace, but how do you get there and how do you pay for it?” NPU-C Chairman Paul Ranney told the group before the vote. Ranney, who’d read a 58-page summary of the 189-page plan, said that although its goals are laudable, the plan lacks sufficient detail.
Meanwhile on the same night the other two Buckhead NPUs voted to approve the plan, but not unanimously. Board members of both NPU-A and NPU-B expressed that they did not have enough time to study the volumes of material in the report and that the city had no money to carry out much of what was proposed, But they decided it was a good idea to have a plan for improving the city’s greenspace.
Ray Mock, chair of NPU-A, commented the plan “could be the beginning of inter-departmental communication and cooperation in the city,” which he said he has not seen much of during his 20 years of working with the city’s parks. Mock’s everyday job is director of operations at the Chastain Park Conservancy organization.
Mock said the plan indicates to him “there is a ray of hope that the Department of Watershed Management and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs might actually work together” to deal with issues involving the city’s parks and greenspace.
Ranney told those attending the NPU-C meeting that Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration wants the current City Council to approve the recreational plan compiled by Wallace Roberts & Todd before it leaves office in December. The plan updates a 1993 effort to boost trails, parks and greenspace in the city. NPU-C approved a motion that the city council defer taking action on the greenspace plan for six months, which would require the newly elected council to consider it and give the NPU sufficient time to study it and make an informed decision.
Planning Department Representative Shelley Peart and Pat Katz of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs said that the city falls below others in the amount of greenspace per resident. Peart advised that the plan is a long-range guide and that any specific projects would be subject to NPU review.
Before the vote, Ranney had expressed concern that NPU-C approval of the plan now could be seen in the future as setting a precedent for approval of any project under its purview. “What if they want to build a trail behind someone’s backyard?”