City officials envision a multi-use trail through Brook Run Park as a “byway” for the city, perhaps connecting pedestrians to the Project Renaissance complex in the Georgetown area. Trail construction will be in two phases, with phase one scheduled for completion by January, and the second phase expected to get underway some time next year.

Dunwoody officials are hoping to begin construction in October on a multi-use trail through Brook Run Park that many see as a huge step toward providing pedestrian access through the city.

Originally envisioned as a loop around the park, city officials shifted the focus of the multi-use trail when they realized it could connect pedestrians to a future mixed-use development.

The city is working with a private developer to build parks, homes, businesses and possibly a municipal complex on 35 acres in the Georgetown area that will be known as Project Renaissance.

“This project is what changed the scope of the trail – an opportunity to make it a byway for the city instead of just a loop through the park,” said Brent Walker, the director of Parks and Recreation for the city of Dunwoody.

Walker said the city plans to build according to industry standards: a 12-foot wide concrete trail that will be wide enough to accommodate a variety of users such as bikers and walkers. The trail will be built in two phases, with the first phase scheduled to be done by January. The second phase is scheduled to begin in 2013.

“It’s the safest width you can have for a trail of this type,” Walker said. “As we move forward, we want to try to build a consistent trail system throughout the city. That will be our standard we build all future multi-use trails by.”

The city has received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to help offset the cost of building the trail. City council agreed to spend about $300,000 more than it initially anticipated on the trail. The total cost of the project is estimated at $420,000.

“We saw an opportunity to build a better recreational amenity for that space and to connect to the other parks,” Walker said.

But some believe the trail may do more harm than good, especially those in the adjacent Lakeview Oaks neighborhood.

Bobbi Sedam is concerned that the trail will disturb the park’s old growth forest.

“Part of that trail goes right through our climax forest,” Sedam said. “It’s an urban forest and it’s never been disturbed. It has reached its zenith. It has a total equilibrium.”

She said it would be tough to replace the trees growing there. “It’s almost all full of hardwoods now,” she said.

Walker said the city’s arborist will walk through the park with the trail designers to point out the hardwood trees that should be avoided and catalogue the trees that must be removed. An equal number will be replanted afterward, he said.

Drainage is another issue for nearby residents, who have taken advantage of the public comment portion of city council meetings to voice their concerns. The park already has flooding issues, they say, and adding more concrete could make matters worse.

At a recent council meeting, Beverly Armento said there are two major water basins that run through Brook Run Park. “One side is a swale, on the other side are tributaries that dump into West Nancy Creek,” she said. “I don’t know how much more water West Nancy Creek can take.”

City engineers insist the path will have no noticeable impact on storm water runoff and the trail will run more than 100 feet from neighboring property lines.

Walker said there will be nearly 3 1/2 miles of trail through the park once both phases are complete. “It’s going to be gorgeous. It’s going to be a really nice recreational element for Dunwoody,” Walker said.