Brookhaven residents got a first look Oct. 16 at design plans that have been months in the making for the first phase of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, a linear park that is planned to connect to Chamblee, Doraville and eventually the Atlanta BeltLine.
About 30 people attended the open house held at the Salvation Army Atlanta Temple Corps building located on the massive campus of the Salvation Army Southern Territory Headquarters on the Northeast Expressway.
Maps of where the multi-use trail will go for phase one of the Greenway were on display and presentations were given by PATH Foundation Executive Director Ed McBrayer and Greta deMayo of KAIZEN Collaborative, a design and planning firm that has worked with the PATH Foundation in the past.
The city hired the nonprofit PATH Foundation in March for approximately $325,000 to provide design work for the Greenway.
The first phase of the Greenway, called the “model mile,” will run from the Salvation Army property near Corporate Boulevard and end at Briarwood Road. Construction is expected to begin in the early 2018. Most of the Greenway will be 14-foot wide concrete path. There will be some “pinch points” that are 12-feet wide and there will be some impervious sections of the trail as well, deMayo said. Estimated cost for this section of the Greenway is close to $6 million and is being funded through hotel/motel tax revenue.
Estimated construction time for the first phase is seven to eight months, McBrayer said.
McBrayer noted the PATH Foundation has designed such trails as the Atlanta BeltLine, the Silver Comet Trail and PATH 400 in Buckhead. Pedestrians, joggers and recreational cyclists are the target users for the Greenway, he said.
“This trail is being built for the average person,” he said of the Greenway, “not for the Spandex crowd.”
While the word trail was used, McBrayer said the Greenway is more of a linear park. Economic benefits of similar trails have shown that property values increase for those along a trail and businesses are created to exist alongside them. The Atlanta BeltLine is an example of “economic development on steroids,” he added.
Jeri Breiner, who lives on Dunwoody Trail in the Pine Hills neighborhood, said she while she supports the trail, she has serious concerns about how the city will deal with crime, parking, traffic and privacy to residential areas near the trail before the Greenway is built. She also said she’s raised these issues for months with city officials and Greenway designers but that have gone ignored.
“We are all ‘pro-this,’” she said of the Greenway, “but we want it done correctly.”
McBrayer said in his 27 years of experience of building trails, crime rates have never gone up.
“That’s not a reality,” he said. “That’s your perception. If you go to any police department, they will say trails decrease crime.”
“Ridiculous,” said someone as several people sitting near Breiner shook their heads. Four people angrily walked out of the meeting.
Brookhaven Fund Development Director Patty Hansen said the city is working with Jackson Square and Villas at Druid Hills, two multi-family complexes along the first phase, to ensure privacy for their residents. She said police will also be patrolling the trails.
DeMayo added plans are in the works for gated access to the trail for those living at Villas at Druid Hills. “People will want to live at the Villas so they can get on the trails,” she said.
Breiner said the issues affect those living in Pine Hills and all along the Buford Highway corridor.
“I know I am talking for many who did not want to come tonight,” she said. “I’m pro-trail, but I’m first pro-community that already lives there.”
Several people asked about direct access to Buford Highway. Hansen said a sidewalk from the new QuikTrip at 3429 Buford Highway to the Greenway was planned to be a gateway to the new trail. Instead the convenience store only did what was legally required, she said.
“It is not as illustrious as they committed,” she said, and includes a Dumpster blocking the sidewalk from reaching where the Greenway is planned to be built.
The city is currently putting some “good-natured pressure” on QuikTrip to live up to its commitment that included landscaping and direct access to the trail, she said.
Major design takeaways from the meeting:
1.) The proposal for the first phase includes a trailhead on the Salvation Army property closer to Corporate Boulevard. An upper and lower trail are proposed at the trailhead where the upper trail can be accessed via Corporate Boulevard and a future lower trail extension is proposed to be built toward North Druid Hills Road. The two trails would be connected by steps at Corporate Square. The trailhead would include some parking and an upper plaza area with tables and chairs is also proposed.
The city continues to work with the Salvation Army to obtain an easement on its property behind its headquarters that runs along the creek to North Druid Hills Road. The Salvation Army’s Board of Trustees supports the Greenway project but has not yet voted on granting the easement, according to Patty Hansen of the city.
2.) A “major bridge crossing” is also planned from Corporate Square to the north side of the creek to the Jackson Square townhome complex on Buford Highway, explained DeMayo. There is a small parcel of land where the bridge ends near the residential property that is proposed to become a green space area, she added. The small lot was acquired by DeKalb County via FEMA Hazard Mitigation and ownership is currently being transferred to the city of Brookhaven. The pedestrian bridge would allow access to the green space. A preliminary design for the bridge is above. The bridge would be visible from Jackson Square.
2.) The Greenway would continue alongside the north side of the creek to the Villas at Druid Hills apartments on Buford Highway. DeMayo said the Greenway would run behind the apartment complex’s privacy fence, a “pinch point” where the path will narrow from 14 feet to 12 feet. DeMayo said there are also discussions taking place to restructure the apartment complex’s parking lot to improve the back side of the property and allow connectivity to the trail via a coded gate, for example.
3.) The Greenway would then “piggyback” on a road DeKalb County uses for sewer maintenance.
DeMayo said there are several sewer lines in this area and designers are working with the county on such issues as lowering manhole covers. Connecting the Greenway to Northeast Plaza during the first phase is not financially feasible because of the steep slope from the Greenway to the shopping center’s property, DeMayo said
4.) The Greenway would continue to parallel to the DeKalb road used for sewer maintenance and end at Briarwood Road where another split trailhead is planned, with an upper and lower area, including an area for some parking. A “hawk” signal at Briarwood Road to allow pedestrians and cyclists get to the Greenway is also planned.
Branding and signage for the Greenway is also taking place with input from a steering committee.
A logo design that includes the first letter of each city — Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville — as well as a more generic design are being considered.
Bike racks, benches and railings are also being finalized.