Tanyard Creek BeltLine Trail shows the way for the future

By Maria Saporta

The grand opening of a one-mile trail in Northwest Atlanta on Saturday marked the continued progress of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Idyllic weather, warm thoughts and celebratory statements set the mood as a host of leaders spoke of the wonderful asset the trail will be for Atlantans and those who live around Tanyard Creek Park, located near the intersection of Northside Drive and Collier Road.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Atlanta BeltLine’s Brian Leary, the city’s acting Parks and Recreation Commissioner Paul Taylor, the BeltLine Partnership’s John Somerhalder, PATH’s Ed McBrayer, Arborguard’s Spence Rosenfeld, the Trust of Public Land’s Victoria Talley and members of the Brookwood Alliance neighborhood group all spoke about what can happen when there’s partnership and cooperation.

But this project has been a long time coming. TPL’s Talley said the efforts to secure the land for part of the trail and Tanyard Creek Park date back 11 years, long before there was a plan for the BeltLine.

Much of the credit was given to the family of Louise Howard for their desire to make sure their property was preserved as green space rather than sold for development.

Saturday’s grand opening showed little of the wear and tear that neighborhood leaders, planners, PATH officials and others had to go through to find that common vision. In many ways, this could end up being one of the happiest outcomes of one of the most contentious green-oriented projects the city and its partners have taken on.

There were arguments over the possible alignment of trail, on how many trees might have to be cut down, on the potential damage to the trees left standing, the negative impact of water runoff into the creek. In short, there was no shortage of tension along the way.

“The most successful projects benefit from great partnerships,” said PATH executive director Ed McBrayer. “We learned a lot from this trail on how to be vigilant and not get too close to the stream.”

The trail was built with great sensitivity to the trees along its corridor. “They really didn’t feel it,” McBrayer said because of all the steps PATH and the city took in building the trail. Also, the trail was built so that the water would runoff away from the creek so it could go through the natural filtration process through the soil before finding its way back to the creek bed.

“I want to thank the community,” Mayor Reed told the hundred or so people who had gathered for the opening. “It was arduous, almost seven years of tough negotiations.”

The Atlanta Memorial Trail, as it is called, is the second finished mile of the 22-mile pedestrian/bicycle trail in the BeltLine plan. Another one-mile segment has been opened on the southwest quadrant.

Mayor Reed also reassured the crowd of his ongoing commitment to the transformative redevelopment initiative.

“We will absolutely finish the BeltLine,” he said. “I don’t want you to have one second of hesitation of my administration’s commitment to the BeltLine.”

And then the mayor made an announcement that brought cheers from those at the grand opening.

“In my 2011 budget, we will have $1 million just for the maintenance of the BeltLine park,” the mayor said, adding that “we are going to put our dollars where our mouth is.”

After the grand opening, the mayor spent at least 30 minutes walking the trail as it wound its way from the CSX railroad trestle through the park and underneath Collier Road.

“It’s amazing,” said Reed, who clearly was enjoying the beautiful Spring day in Atlanta and the ability to celebrate one of the real positive developments in our city.

May there be many more.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

4 replies
  1. Yr1215 says:

    Amen. 2 miles down, 20 to go…. I hope the rest of the Beltline PATH doesn’t take 11 years. I don’t think the additional PATH trails will take that long, and for Atlanta’s sake, let’s hope not.

    The NIMBY folks, who are ultimately the biggest beneficiaries of the Beltline, ironically seem to keep fighting PATH everywhere on the Northside. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.Report

    Reply
  2. Anonymous says:

    My family was here at Tanyard Creek to walk along the path and play at the playground on Saturday morning and we had a great time. It’s a beautiful spot with a nice view of the creek and it’s a great place to experience Spring in Atlanta.

    I look forward to the day when driving in a car and parking won’t be the best connectivity option for getting to this park for most people in Midtown. That’s certainly the case now, unless you happen to live in one of the suburban homes that surround it. It makes me wonder how much of the park space along the Beltline will end up being primarily of use to people who either drive to it in cars or live near it in low-density, detached houses.

    I don’t want to be negative about progress on such a great overall project, though. I’ll have a more positive view as more Beltline trail develops in areas that are better connected to the rest of the city — and with more high-density mixed-use development — than the one surrounding Tanyard Creek.Report

    Reply
  3. Yr1215 says:

    Anonymous, I think when the PATH component to the beltline is built out, every one and every neighborhood that wants access to it will have it. It won’t be a preserve for only the select adjacent neighborhoods. Tanyard creek certainly is a beautiful section, and one hopes the rest of the project will be done at the same high level of quality.

    The beltline will traverse high density areas as well as single family neighborhoods. Furthmore, one hopes that areas adjacent to the beltline are upzoned for higher / mixed use density, in particular the industrial areas and neighborhoods that have become mostly rental or abandoned housing.Report

    Reply
  4. Rankin Fyle says:

    The Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission helped to lessen the trail’s harmful impact on the trees through the tree appeal process prior to construction.Report

    Reply

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