BeltLine’s Eastside Trail to be extended through use of eminent domain, if necessary

By David Pendered

The City of Atlanta is preparing to acquire additional land to extend the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, by condemnation if necessary.

The planned acquisition coincides with the plans by the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. to begin the fairly extensive process of building a concrete mutli-use trail along a 1.5-mile section at the southern end of the existing Eastside Trail. The board that oversees the BeltLine could vote for a contract for this project as early as its meeting scheduled for Dec. 9.

Krog Street tunnel

The next stage of construction of the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail will take it through the Krog Street tunnel, pictured here in July 2014. Credit: yelp.com

This segment of the Eastside Trail is to stretch south from Irwin Street to a point along Kirkwood Avenue, in Reynoldstown. The trail is to end there for the time being. The next step is an extension to Memorial Drive.

This segment of the trail is the one for which the Edgewood Avenue bridge was replaced. Demolition and construction started in 2013.

The route of the planned extension of the Eastside Trail takes it from Irwin Street to DeKalb Avenue, passing beneath Edgewood Avenue.

The trail is to continue through the Krog Street Tunnel unto Wylie Street, in Cabbagetown. The trail is to continue to the old railroad corridor at Flat Shoals Avenue, and continue to a temporary end along Kirkwood Avenue, according to the BeltLine’s description of the project.

The City of Atlanta is doing its part to further the project. Atlanta is to provide money to acquire the land and provide its condemnation powers to the land through eminent domain, if necessary.

The Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee is to consider the proposal at its meeting Tuesday. The legislation was submitted by Councilmember Andre Dickens, who chairs the committee. The schedule included with the paper calls for adoption by the full council at its Dec. 7 meeting.

Eastside Trail map

Atlanta is preparing to extend the Eastside Trail, of the Atlanta BeltLine, from Irwin Street through the Krog Street Tunnel to a temporary stopping point in the Kirkwood neighborhood. Credit: beltline.org, David Pendered

Pending legislation provides an amount up to $253,861 to acquire the land and pay the fees of any lawyers the city may hire to handle the proceedings. The money is to be drawn from accounts the legislation describes as private, City of Atlanta, and from the BeltLine Tax Allocation District.

The private funding is, presumably, being drawn from contributions made to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Inc., the entity charged with raising money to build the BeltLine and its amenities.

The BeltLine TAD is a vehicle that enables property taxes collected on new developments in the BeltLine tax district to be directed for the purpose of funding construction of the BeltLine’s amenities.

This authorization of the use of eminent domain isn’t a first for the BeltLine.

Atlanta used the same procedure to acquire land along the BeltLine’s Westside Trail. At the time, Atlanta contended that the ownership of some properties had become so jumbled over time that deeds did not always identify the true owner. Consequently, the city sought the right to use its power of eminent domain.

In the case of this segment of the Eastside Trail, the legislation provides:

  • “WHEREAS, in order to meet the schedule deadlines for acquisition of all necessary property interests in connection with the Project the declaration of taking method must be used for property acquisition for those property rights which cannot be acquired through negotiations; and
  • “WHEREAS, the City wishes to authorize acquisition and construction of the Project in compliance with all plans, laws, and regulations, and in an expeditious manner.”

The Atlanta BeltLine issued a request for proposals to build this section of the Eastside Trail. Responses were due Oct. 13. Construction was expected to take 18 months, according to a statement from the BeltLine.

Further information is not readily available on the BeltLine’s website. The link to additional information about the bids and process leads to a page that states, “Sorry to impede your process – but this page does not exist!” The agenda of the BeltLine’s board of directors Dec. 9 meeting does not appear to be available on the section of the BeltLine’s website that announces the meeting.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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