By Jason Massad
A controversial greenway that would link Dunwoody to Fulton and Gwinnett counties is off after a loud protest from the residents who would live along side it.
City officials late last week dropped the 4-plus mile trail from the city’s transportation plan, effectively snuffing out the possibility of opening up a public corridor in the northern part of the city.
“It’s not in the plans that will be presented to the [Dunwoody] City Council,” said Michael Smith, public works director.
The east-west greenway along a Georgia Power Co. easement was envisioned as the spine of a trail system that would link to surrounding counties and string together the Dunwoody Nature Center, Brook Run Park and other green spaces within the city.
The controversial greenway initially was included as part of a transportation plan for the city. The plan, scheduled to be delivered to City Council March 14, has been presented in a series of public meetings and was shown to the Dunwoody Homeowners Association at its March 6 meeting.
The plan includes proposals to add turn lanes to Mount Vernon and to add roundabouts at several locations in the city.
“We want to make it easier for Dunwoody residents to get around, but not encourage cut-through traffic,” Smith told members of the DHA board.
Public outcry against the Georgia Power Co. portion of the greenway was overwhelming, said Dunwoody Councilman Robert Wittenstein.
Wittenstein, who initially supported the greenway, said that it was obvious the city shouldn’t move forward with the proposal.
“Several people on the council, including me, saw that it was dead,” Wittenstein said. “It had received too much community opposition.”
A meeting in February displayed how galvanized the opposition was to the greenway proposal. Around 200 city residents turned out for a meeting called to gather input on the proposed greenway.
Some who came to the meeting said that they would be willing to listen to the city’s specific plans for the trail. The majority, however, were firmly against it – with some threatening that the city would have to condemn their property to gain access to the easement to develop the greenway.
The turmoil comes as the city launches a campaign for a bond referendum that is planned for the November ballot. If passed by voters, it would raise $56 million to enhance the city’s green spaces.
The greenway would not come cheap. Wittenstein estimated that the city would spend around $1 million per mile to fence, light and landscape a greenway.
“I don’t think we wanted a controversial greenway that would have clouded what should be otherwise be a straight-forward decision for voters,” he said.
While the main corridor for the greenway will not be considered, Wittenstein said that some trails that would link parks inside city could still move forward.
City officials are still deciding what should be a part of the greenway system, which was outlined in the late 1990s when Dunwoody was still part of unincorporated DeKalb County.