Generally speaking, neighborhoods have welcomed the Atlanta BeltLine with giddy, open arms as its construction has crawled around the city over the past 15 years. Communities around Westside and Southside trail corridors skeptical of gentrification and rising housing costs would be the exception, though pushback never reached a fever pitch.
Buckhead, as the AJC thoroughly chronicles this week, is becoming the exception to BeltLine acceptance as designers try to move forward with the best route for the most complex BeltLine section of all, the Northwest Trail.
The situation has gotten to the point that one BeltLine official likened it to a “tale of two cities” in northwest Atlanta, with neighborhoods like Blandtown and Underwood Hills pulling for BeltLine construction as soon as possible; on the other side of Interstate 75, the proverbial dividing line, residents of places such as Springlake and Peachtree Battle, alongside a number of HOAs, are pushing for the Northwest Trail to be routed as far from them as possible, citing concerns over privacy, crime, and environmental impacts on nearby creeks and greenspace.
The issue is especially timely this week, as BeltLine and PATH Foundation leaders are expected to unveil their pick for how the Northwest Trail would be routed through southern Buckhead during a Thursday meeting. Three corridors are being considered for a portion just east of Bobby Jones Golf Course.
Overall, the Northwest Trail is particularly tricky and unusual, in that it has no established railroad corridor to follow. Instead it must rely on neighborhood streets, property along creeks, or commercial corridors like those around Bennett Street.
Buckhead, it should be noted, is no stranger the BeltLine and the patronage it attracts.
The Northside Trail—a roughly one-mile stretch near Collier Road, Bobby Jones Golf Course, and Piedmont Hospital—opened back in 2010. A Northside Trail extension that’s encircled the golf course in more recent years had drawn concerns from neighbors about crime and safety, but police statistics have shown those worries to be unfounded, the AJC reports.
BeltLine leaders stressed to the newspaper they’ve held 15 neighborhood meetings, assembled study groups, and taken input from business owners, among other measures, to collect input on where the Northwest Trail should go. Whatever route they pick will still be considered preliminary for now, and possibly subject to change.
Neighborhood heads did report that not all residents have been resistant to the BeltLine, with a survey showing about half of Springlake is in favor of seeing the trail routed through. Those who live closest to the proposed path were less likely to be gung-ho, however.
Buckhead isn’t the only metro Atlanta community being scrutinized for its resistance to change right now.
The Roswell City Council voted unanimously Monday to ban development of standalone apartments in the affluent North Fulton city that’s taken lumps for unchecked Nimbyism in the past.
Roswell Mayor Kurt Wilson told CBS46 the move will help control growth and promote more mixed-use development in what’s currently the “most populous apartment city” in the northern reaches of Fulton County.
Critics have called the measure a setback for affordable housing and brick wall for many communities hoping to make lives for themselves in Roswell in the future.
• Recent Buckhead news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)