By Tom Oder
Beverly Armento, outgoing president of the Lakeview Oaks Homeowners Association and a self-described voice of concern about the possible environmental impact of a planned concrete trail through Brook Run Park, is gaining a chorus of support.
The support began forming after Armento received a report from city Parks and Recreation Manager Brent Walker this fall revealing that construction of the 12-foot-wide trail will result in the removal of approximately 337 trees in Brook Run.
As a result of the report, a loose, broad-based coalition of residents has formed and added their voices to Armento’s.
Thanksgiving week, Armento, Bobbi Sedam, a member of the Dunwoody Sustainability Commission, and Carey Coghill met to discuss the coalition’s fears that some of the oldest trees in the park’s woodland might be removed because they could be in the path of the trail. The park includes towering beech, oak and hickory trees.
“This is one of the last remaining intact and undisturbed forests on public land in Dunwoody,” said Coghill.
Armento said members of the homeowners association and the coalition support the concept of the trail, just not its location. “We’ve never been against the trail,” she said.
Coghill agreed. “We’re supportive of moving it to already paved areas of the park,” she said.
City officials say many citizens have reacted favorably to plans for the trail.
Bob Mullen, public relations and marketing director for Dunwoody, said the city has held at least a dozen public meetings to get citizen comments, has involved citizens in the master planning process for the park, has held public discussions at City Council meetings, held meetings with neighborhood groups, and city representatives have led “one-on-one” trail walks.
The city is waiting on approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with work on the project, Mullen said.
The trail originally was planned as a loop through the park. Now the proposal has grown to connect the trail to Project Renaissance in the Georgetown area and eventually for it to become part of a trail system throughout the city.
The city plans to build the trail in several phases, with construction of Phase I, the portion in Brook Run, beginning in December.
It’s the portion of the trail through the forest, which Coghill characterizes as sort of a natural learning lab, that conerns opponents. The trail will be made from non-porous concrete.
Armento, Sedam and Coghill spoke of their concerns about the possible impact of storm water runoff.
“Our community borders Brook Run, and the two water basins in the park flow directly onto our property and into West Nancy Creek that borders us to our west,” Armento said of the Lakeview Oaks community.
The three said they are also concerned about the number and size of trees to be felled, especially those in the rear of the current dog park.
“You can’t replace older trees by planting new ones,” Sedam added.
Armento said the coalition’s specific concerns about the portion of the trail in the Brook Run forest are: potential sediment and water runoff; the width of the trail; the trail’s footprint and construction materials; whether there have been sufficient environmental studies; whether there has been adequate public input; and the size, location and number of trees to be cut.
Mullen cautioned that the final layout for the forest portion of the trail has not been done.
“The pink stakes delineate the preliminary planned route of the trail but not the exact center,” he said.
“The trees that crews have marked may or may not come down depending on a site adjustment made to keep or remove them.”
The trees that will be removed vary from 1 inch to 30 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH), with a majority being less than 13 inches, Mullen said.
The city’s “No Net Loss” policy for trees requires any tree more than 4 inches in diameter be replaced, Mullen said.
The width of the trail was established using national standards for safety from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Mullen said.