The two new Atlanta City Council members sworn in in early January to represent parts of Buckhead said they are looking forward to overseeing initiatives to improve water infrastructure, reduce traffic congestion, expand MARTA and build multiuse trails.
J.P. Matzigkeit was elected to represent District 8, which includes most of Buckhead west of Roswell Road. Jennifer Ide was elected to represent District 6, which includes the Lindbergh area in Buckhead.
Matzigkeit, a Chastain Park neighborhood resident and an avid cyclist, said providing bike lanes is an important way to decrease traffic congestion, but he agreed with the decision to not install bike lanes on Peachtree Road.
“As a cyclist, I do not want to ride on Peachtree Road, even in a bike lane. With the number of curb cuts and the amount of traffic that is on the road, that is not a pleasant experience,” he said. “What I want to do is to have a great experience for people riding their bike and it’s not on Peachtree Road.”
Matzigkeit, who works for a fitness technology company, said he hopes to advocate for bike lanes in the “right areas,” including the many wide side streets in his district, and create the right balance of multiuse paths and bike lanes.
“We have a lot of wide roads that are side streets and not main arteries. Having bike routes and bike lanes there is an idea to have a good safe experience that is not on main arteries. But you have to get connected to trails, to the BeltLine, to the park and to schools so your kid can ride bikes,” he said.
He also said he plans to look into ways to preserve older and historic buildings after some have been demolished in recent years. He plans to be heavily involved with the revising of the zoning and tree ordinances, which he hopes can curb infill housing.
“One of the wonderful things about Atlanta is the charm of its neighborhoods and we have to preserve its neighborhoods,” Matzigkeit said.
As chair of the utilities committee, Matzigkeit will prioritize modernizing and upgrading the city’s water infrastructure, which are prone to leaks and water main breaks, including a recent break that resulted in 2,000 residents and part of Phipps Plaza experiencing a water outage.
“You think about how many highrises have gone up in Buckhead in recent years. You think that they’ve changed out the sizes of the water pipes? No, so you have so much more use put on older infrastructure that really wasn’t designed to support that. It’s going to be important that we are vigilant in making sure that we do have the right infrastructure for our city as we move forward and grow,” Matzigkeit said.
Matzigkeit is optimistic about a major makeover of the former Bobby Jones Golf Course clubhouse at Atlanta Memorial Park. The proposal would renovate the now vacant clubhouse into a recital hall. It is the only proposal so far to create a new use of the historic clubhouse, but Matzigkeit said he isn’t concerned the idea could fall through.
“The group has been very successful in raising money. I believe it’s going to be very successful,” he said.
He is looking forward to working with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and said she has been receptive to learning about issues in District 8, a district that overwhelming voted for her opponent, Mary Norwood.
“She was extremely interested in what the issues were in District 8 that were important to me. In fact, she took notes,” Matzigkeit said of a meeting he had with Bottoms.
“I think that it’s important that she meet the people of District 8 and the people of District 8 meet our mayor. She’s our mayor and we need to all work together for the good of Atlanta and I look forward to working with her,” he said.
Ide, whose district absorbed the recently annexed area around Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she is hopeful the Clifton Corridor light rail project will now move forward quickly.
“I think that there’s a good chance the Clifton Corridor MARTA rail project will go forward and move closer to the front of the line, which will be connecting the Emory campus to the Lindbergh MARTA Station,” she said. “It’s going to be complicated with how it has to run through some neighborhoods to get there, but I think that’s going to be a great opportunity for helping both relieve our traffic congestion and connecting jobs and people on transit.”
Ide, an attorney and Morningside resident, is also excited to see the confluence of trails in the Lindbergh area continue to move forward. PATH 400, the BeltLine and South Fork Conservancy trails all connect in that area, and plans could potentially bring the BeltLine much sooner than expected.
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. is negotiating with Georgia Power to possibly have the company facilitate some work on the BeltLine while it replaces power infrastructure, a plan Ide hopes continues to move forward.
“It would be a great public private success story in my mind,” Ide said.
She hopes the BeltLine and other trail projects continue to bring growth to the Lindbergh area, including by increasing the success of the Armour Yards redevelopment, which currently hosts Atlanta Track Club, Sweetwater Brewery and ASW Distillery, among others.
“I think that’s an exciting part of my district to see some really new vibrant businesses come in there. I think that area’s only going to grow and be revitalized as the BeltLine continues there,” she said. “It’s great to see new money and energy come in to it.”