By Rick Callihan
It seems one controversial thing after another keeps popping up in Dunwoody. Last year, we had the backyard poultry debate, among other things, and this year we’ve been arguing amongst ourselves over a drive-through restaurant and, of course, school redistricting.
The latest Dunwoody-versus-Dunwoody issue is that of creating a multi-use greenway trail going east to west across the northern section of the city.
The idea of a greenway trail connecting Dunwoody to the Gwinnett County Trail System to our east and to Morgan Falls Park (and into Cobb County) to our west sounds enticing.
The proposed greenway route was presented last week to Dunwoody City Council by Lose and Associates, a consulting firm hired by the city to help plan the park system. The greenway trail would be built under the 200-foot wide Georgia Power Co. power line that cuts through Dunwoody.
The greenway would include a 12-foot wide porous asphalt path for bicycles, walkers and joggers, and could even incorporate open space for Frisbee-throwing, picnics, and other leisure activities. The greenway could be as narrow as 25 feet in some sections and up to 100 feet wide in most areas. If the greenway averaged 50 feet in width, Dunwoody would gain 6 acres of green space per mile. The power line through Dunwoody is approximately 4.5 miles in length.
Gaining green space sounds great. But the city’s gain is someone’s loss, right? Georgia Power has an air easement on the string of land parcels known as the power line, but the actual dirt belongs to the property owners, not Georgia Power.
If we as a city want a nice multi-use trail connecting the Dunwoody Nature Center to Brook Run, we need the cooperation of many landowners along the corridor, or we need to take some land by force using eminent domain. Or, a combination of both.
Just like the case with school redistricting, very few people like change, even if the change may result in something better.
People opposed to losing part of their backyard have already made themselves heard. The most common fears are crime, loss of privacy and loss of home value. I went online and read a couple real estate journals as well as some propaganda from pro-green space folks, and the results are the same: Greenway trails have either no effect or actually increase property values.
Loss of privacy? Yes, you will lose privacy. Some people like having a trail near them, others do not. Putting up a fence or planting concealment-type shrubs may be an option.
Crime? Nothing I found online showed crime increases for homeowners due to having a trail behind their property. Most crimes at greenway trails were vehicle break-ins at the trailheads. Much like having a sidewalk in front of your home, having a trail behind your house does keep extra eyes on your property, perhaps a good thing to deter crime.
I’ll admit I do not own property on the power line here in Dunwoody, but one of my neighbors does own a slice. As much as I want a multi-use trail allowing people to travel by bike or foot safely across town on a quiet trail, I can’t find it in me to take property away from others. I can justify use of eminent domain in certain situations, perhaps for a road expansion or building a school or hospital, but not for a greenway trail.
Many property owners along the power line have already expressed to the city that they are in favor of the greenway idea, but many others have expressed the opposite opinion. I hope those now opposed to the greenway will do some research and then visit a similar project to see for themselves.
Perhaps someone will charter a couple of tour buses to Nashville for a greenway tour, and Dunwoody power line property owners can ride there to take a look and take a nice walk as well.
View Rick Callihan’s Dunwoody Talk blog at www.dunwoodytalk.blogspot.com.