Vida Monajem thought a new city park beneath the Dunwoody MARTA tracks could provide a pleasant place to take her walks.

“We walk right next to this all the time,” the Dunwoody woman said. “We are walkers. It would be wonderful to have this project. I am all for beautifying our city.”

Others among the two dozen or so who attended a public meeting at Dunwoody City Hall on April 22 seemed to share her sentiments. So did representatives of the Perimeter Central Improvement Districts, who are proposing the park on land beneath the elevated MARTA tracks just north of the Dunwoody MARTA station. A second meeting to discuss plans for the park is scheduled for May 29.

“The one missing ingredient in the Perimeter is there’s not a lot of greenspace,” PCIDs President and Chief Executive Officer Yvonne Williams told the group. “Under the MARTA rails, believe it or not, there’s 5 acres of opportunity there for greenspace and, more importantly, a place to gather.”

Squeezed between Perimeter Center Parkway and Perimeter Mall, the area “looks and feels like nothing where you’re out there,” said consultant Ben Skidmore of Kimley-Horn and Associates.

But, Skidmore said, the proposed park roughly equals the size of other urban parks and would be slightly larger than Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. The park would cover about as much ground as the par-4 11th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club, he said.

“It’s a great idea,” Dunwoody City Councilman Jim Riticher said. “It’s been that empty land that’s been nothing behind a chain-link fence since MARTA was built.”

Consultant Ray Strychalski, left, discusses possible features of a proposed 5-acre Perimeter Park @ Dunwoody MARTA Station withDunwoody residents Jan Slater, center, and Charlene Thurman, right, during a public meeting April 22 at Dunwoody City Hall.

Williams said the park’s promoters have “no cost in acquiring the property,” which is owned by Perimeter Mall or is right-of-way for the city of Dunwoody. The park will developed as money becomes available, she said, but “there will be a park there.” Once established, the park would be maintained by the city of Dunwoody, officials at the meeting said.

“Everywhere you go, you hear about greenspace and Dunwoody and the PCIDs need to be the model,” Williams said. “The park becomes the backbone for pathways or trails. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never use your car?”

Skidmore said the consultants were meeting the public to solicit ideas on what sort of park the area should be. He said the park could open up a stream that now flows through the area in a concrete channel.

Residents attending the meeting at Dunwoody City Hall offered plenty of ideas for ways the park could be developed. Several suggested the park, now called Dunwoody Park @ Perimeter MARTA Station, should include trails for walking and offer places to sit. One resident proposed including subtle background music. Someone else said to outlaw skateboards. Several said the park should feel safe.

Dunwoody resident Charlene Thurman endorsed a proposal by the planners that the MARTA tracks and their supports be lighted at night for dramatic effect.

“I like the lighted columns ,” she said. “I also like the seen some places to sit and some places to walk.”

Her friend Jan Slater said she liked the idea of transforming the little-used area in the center of the Perimeter into a small public park where residents could stroll or sit and read a book.

“Right now it’s kind of an eyesore,” she said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.