Author: Reporter Newspapers

BeltLine CEO explains trail decision-making process

By Terri Montague President & Chief Executive Officer, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. It’s been called the most ambitious urban revitalization project in the nation, perhaps the world. A complex redevelopment project like the BeltLine doesn’t come without challenges and sometimes conflict. On the surface, there are a variety of seemingly competing interests, but it’s our job to find the balance among them. The trail hugging the edge of Tanyard Creek Park’s meadow will connect neighborhoods and two existing sections of trail. Its route will reflect a balance of community preferences and environmental impact. And it will be forged now after seven years of discussion inherited most recently by the BeltLine planning process, which has included 10 public meetings in the last seven months. Further public meetings are upcoming to review and comment on the complete trail design package from Ardmore Park to the Northside Drive/Woodward Way intersection. Have we listened to the community? Two potential bridge crossing locations and one entire trail alignment were eliminated in direct response to community input. And equally important to our obligation to buffer the stream from environmental impact of the trail, we have taken seriously the community’s desire to buffer the meadow from the trail. That visual impact will be minimized by routing the trail through existing naturalization areas and restoring new naturalization areas along the trail edge and between the trail and the...

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Mayor blames budget deficit on errors, bad city budgeting

By John Schaffner editor@reporternewspapers.net Mayor Shirley Franklin told the Atlanta City Council’s finance/executive committee Jan. 30 the city is facing a $70 million deficit in its fiscal 2008 budget due to budgeting errors, inappropriate budgeting practices and general economic factors. This shortfall is nearly as large as the $80 million one the mayor faced when she took office in 2002 after the stewardship of Mayor Bill Campbell. According to Franklin, the city failed to foresee $30 million in higher costs for fuel, health insurance, litigation expenses and other items. But, according to the mayor, there were more serious problems with incorrectly budgeted items and at least $38 million of expenses the city simply failed to budget for at all—including $11 million for Internal Revenue Service penalties and for its overtime settlement with the Atlanta police; $18 million in workers compensation payments, pension payments and salaries; and $8 million for Underground Atlanta, which the city underwrites. Another $21 million in underestimated expenses came from several items the city “incorrectly budgeted” according to the mayor. These included overbudgeting the revenue the city receives from hotel/motel tax and underbudgeting the amount of money necessary to fund trash pickup and 911 services. She said that practice goes back decades, but she was only recently made fully aware of it. As if that news is not bad enough, the mayor said the city expects...

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Chastain Park neighbors okay Master Plan, urge Park Drive closing

By John Schaffner editor@reporternewspapers.net The Chastain Park Civic Association (CPCA) approved the park master plan recommendations of the Chastain Park Conservancy at its Jan. 28 meeting and discussed drafting a position statement to be sent to the city recommending the closing of Park Drive to all vehicle traffic one hour after sunset. The proposal to close Park Drive after dark was in response to a reported carjacking and shooting that took place on the road around 8 p.m. on Jan. 3, during which a 17-year-old was shot and wounded. CPCA President Jim King, paraphrasing Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell’s well-known comment that “nothing good happens in Buckhead bars after midnight,” said “nothing good happens on Park Drive after sunset.” King told the group of some 50 or more residents from Buckhead and Sandy Springs neighborhoods that surround Chastain Park that Zone 2 Atlanta Police commander Major James Sellers “said it was our wake up call.” It was pointed out that the road previously was closed off following a shooting of a woman there in 1997. No one seemed to know exactly why the gates used to block off the road had been removed. CPCA Security Chair Todd Davis reported there also had been a series of car break-ins in the area a week or so after the Jan. 3 shooting on Park Drive. King pointed out that all types...

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NPU-B hears warning about BeltLine input

NPU-B board member Cathy Muzzy warned fellow board members to pay close attention to any news they get about the BeltLine Muzzy, who represents the NPU on the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, told the NPU board about snafus on both the West End trail and the Tanyard Creek Park trail. Muzzy said, “All kinds of people went through all sorts of work to get a reasonable compromise between PATH (Foundation) and the BeltLine and the neighborhood about where the Tanyard Creek trail would was going to go when ABI (Atlanta BeltLine Inc.) called a meeting and told the neighborhoods and the study groups not to bring their consultants with them and announced that they didn’t care what the compromise was, they were going to put it where they wanted to anyway.” Muzzy added, “Therefore, there is extremely bad blood floating around about the BeltLine.” She said that for anyone who lives in areas where the BeltLine will impact, “It is really, really important to get people to those study groups and pay attention to what they are planning. Right now, they are not consulting anybody at all. They are driving everybody crazy,” she stated. The only areas of NPU-B that are touched by the BeltLine are around Armour Circle and one area that juts up to Morasco, which board member Sally Silver explained was there because “otherwise they could...

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NPU-C keeps discussion rolling on truck ordinance enforcement

By Amy Wenk Illegal truck traffic has not ceased on Moores Mill Road, but neither have the voices of discontented residents. While only about 20 citizens gathered for the Feb. 5 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit-C (NPU-C), discussion fired up again over truck ordinance enforcement in the Ridgewood Heights neighborhood of Buckhead. Residents are upset that commercial trucks — specifically those which exceed 30 feet, weigh more than 18 tons and have more than six wheels — traverse the stretch of Moores Mill Road between I-75 and Bolton Road despite clear signage that prohibits their use of the residential road. Lt. Byron Martin of the Atlanta Police Department (APD) returned to discuss the problem and, for the third meeting in a row, NPU-C members called on the APD to issue citations to those who violate the ordinance. “For some reason, it is not slowing,” said Lt. Martin, adding that patrol of Moores Mill has increased. “Every time someone’s gone out, there have been tickets to write.” Nonetheless, NPU-C member Robert Warlick reported that the situation on Moores Mill Road seems to be improving. “[Truck drivers] have finally started going down Collier Road and either going to Chattahoochee Industrial or Marietta Boulevard,” Warlick said. “So we are seeing some reduction. At the same time, I’m not 100 percent sure it’s because of enforcement.” However, one NPU-C member said West Wesley...

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