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Loridans-Glengary Homeowners Oppose Ga. 400 Trail Plan

Group says project would bring crime to their backyards

Organized neighborhood opposition to the Ga. 400 trail emerged Thursday night with a slide show not on the agenda at the North Buckhead Civic Association's 40th annual meeting.

After a scheduled Livable Buckhead presentation about its plans for the trail, homeowner Leanne West of Glengary Drive stood up and asked to show her presentation to the group.

West said she represents 44 families in the Loridans Drive-Glengary area who strongly oppose the project and have set up a Facebook page, "Concerned Citizens About Livable Buckhead's Ga. 400 Trail Project." Livable Buckhead's plans call for the trailhead to be placed at Loridans besides Ga. 400 in a  wooded area near the historic Lowry-Stevens cemetery.

Little, a research scientist at Ga. Tech and parent of an 8-year-old son, outlined a range of objections to the trail, from worries about crime, to removal of trees and dishonoring of the African-American cemetery, many of whose graves are unmarked, she said. She said she represents 86 houses opposed to the trail.

"You're really having bad results for many families in the area," she said.

A key concern is that the Loridans trailhead would cause users to park on Glengary, a deadend street.

"My street is going to be a parking lot," West said.

Livable Buckhead consultant Carlos F. Perez of AECOM said in a presentation said that the trailhead could be developed with a range of amenities, from a parking lot, pavilions and restrooms to a mininally developed area.

Perez and Zone 2 Commander Maj. Robert Browning said that research shows trails don't cause crime. In his presentation, Carlos showed slides of another Buckhead PATH trail, at Tanyard Creek, which runs near homes. He and Browning said the Tanyard Creek trail has little if any crime problems.

"I don't have any real security concerns about the (Ga. 400) trail," Browning said. "I feel very comfortable." Browning, who said he'd met with Perez and Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling about security issues, said the 5-mile rail would be closed from dusk to dawn and that it would be easier to patrol a developed trail than the now overgrown, wooded areas along Ga. 400.

But West and other homeowners near the trail continued to express crime fears, such as the trail would veer near backyard swingsets, and attract predators of children. Browning, cautioning that crime can occur at any place, expressed doubts that pedophiles would flock to the trail.

Others said expressed worries about the trail's end at Peachtree Creek near Towers Liquor and the Piedmont-Morosgo Drive Corridor, perceived as an area for criminals who could use the trail to come to north Buckhead. Another fear expressed was that the trail would increase access to property from MARTA, whose trains run down Ga. 400.

Livable Buckhead secretary and NPU-B chairperson Sally Silver in response to the MARTA comments said from the audience, "MARTA's already in your backyard," citiing the Lenox and Buckhead stations. Property owners responded "MARTA's not in our backyard."

West called for the Ga. 400 trail to begin at Mountain Way, although she wryly admitted that homeowners there likely wouldn't be too happy with the proposal. She said the Mountain Way site would have more open space for the trailhead.

North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain has proposed that a park be developed in open space beneath the Ga. 400 overpass at Mountain Way. The park is envisioned  having a connection to the Ga. 400 trail.

The trail is being developed by Livable Buckhead in conjunction with the Buckhead Community Improvement District, whose legal boundaries have been extended to Loridans because of the trail, and PATH. Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett and PATH Exective Director Ed McBrayer both attended the meeting.

Earlier in the evening, Certain presented results of a Ga. 400 trail survey that showed strong support for the project from residents who don't live near the trail. (Full disclosure: I, Buckhead Patch editor Louis Mayeux, lives about a half mile from Ga. 400 in several directions. I am a longtime member of the North Buckhead Civic Association, dating back to before Ga. 400 was even extended into Buckhead. I didn't participate in the survey.)

Perez emphasized that the trail is now in its preliminary design stages and that changes will be made in response to community concerns.

Let us know in Comments what you think about the Ga. 400 Trail.

Trey McClure March 31, 2012 at 06:39 PM
This path will be a wonderful asset to the community that will only increase property values. Families will be able to bike to the Buckhead Village area on a Saturday afternoon to shop or eat at restaurants, which will be even better when the Buckhead Atlanta development fleshes out. The trail will also eventually connect to the Atlanta Beltline which will allow people a safe way to bike all the way to places like Tanyard Creek Park, Piedmont Park and beyond. Atlanta is on it's way to becoming a more vibrant, walkable urban community and if you don't like it you're more than welcome to move to a tacky cookie cutter development in Alpheretta.
Marie April 01, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Henry, Thank you for your comments and for the work you are doing to make Atlanta stronger and better. Please know that Leanne West speaks for a tiny sub-group in N. Buckhead and does not reflect the views of the majority of the community. There are many people who live close to the proposed trail who believe it will be a fantastic asset to the neighborhood and our city. We are all for things that enhance the livability of this city and bring people from different neighborhoods together as community. Trey, I like the way you think!
Leanne West July 30, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Hi all - I just want to clarify some things in this post. I am the person whio gave the talk at the NBCA. We are NOT opposed to the Trail in general and we don't think that people are going to walk up the Trail from other parts of town to steal our children. The survey did show support (3-1), and I myself along with MANY other neighbors I represent, supported the Trail in the survey. However, we have concerns, as this Path will directly affect us. What we are concerned about is the way it is being handled (not one person who is directly affected was contacted originally), the fact that strangers will have access to our backyards day & night, that no parking is planned for the Trail head, and that the portion of the Trail that ends in residential Buckhead comes at the expense of many acres of natural greenspace. Clear-cutting forested areas to put in a concrete path is not good for anyone - especially the environement. We have posed two alternatives that truly fullfil the mission of Livable Buckhead, linking business districts from Peachtree to Roswell Road, and over to Chastain Park. In doing so, Buckhead truly becomes livable and walkable. Walking through people's back yards and ending the Trail in a residential area does not serve that purpose. However, in what we poroposed these areas still have access to the Trail, but it does not come at the expense of natural greenspace or people's homes.
Leanne West July 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM
By the way - we have asked this same question multiple times of Livable Buckhead, with no reponse. We too thought it might be a good comparison. However, as you stated, Chastain is more across the street from people's homes, not wedged in a 20-foot wide section between their back yard and the 400 wall. There is a difference.
P W June 21, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I too live on a dead end street in Buckhead, close to 400 and I too have children that I would like to spend more time with in a safe environment. The idea that it is somehow less safe or nice to have a trail at the end of our street so that we can bike ride knowing we won't get hit by cars and will be able to actually go places that we would otherwise need to drive to is just silly. Most of the people challenging this vision have never walked the area that is in question at night. If they had as I have then they would realize that you find trash back there and it isn't from the neighbors. When you have public land that is not monitored or developed it becomes an area for those who don't have a place to go or for people to hang out. That said, once this land is developed, has a trail, and people walking up and down it, there will certainly be a decrease in the amount of people who are already walking up and down the area that is your backyard. Those who do not think this happens are delusional. I certainly understand being careful and making sure you're part of the process as we all should be but creating different plans is just going to push people like me away, as you certainly do come off as someone trying to stop the most important project anyone could ever dream up for Atlanta and Buckhead.

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