Dear Decaturish – Dearborn is saved … or is it?
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Dearborn Park has been saved or has it? City of Decatur has approved moving forward with Eminent Domain in Dearborn Park in the 11/6 meeting, which is great news. However, there is a larger concern with a development in the park from The Path Foundation. They have proposed building a cement path and bridges through this environmentally sensitive area yet they did not complete a site visit. In addition, Ed McBrayer, Executive Director of the Path Foundation did not seek input from the surrounding neighborhoods in unincorporated DeKalb. The most concerning is the Path’s development partner Greta DeMayo, Principal Owner, Kaizen Collaborative, confirmed that remediation of the area after the development of the Path was not a priority or a concern.
First a little history of the area which is City of Decatur land but is contracted to be maintained by DeKalb County and monitored by DeKalb Police. Dearborn Park Trail is home to Blue Herons Barred Owls, rabbits, amphibians, a couple of Snapping Turtles and the occasional coyote. The pervious path was made possible by a huge effort in 2012 by Friends of Dearborn Park and Park Pride to clear the area of invasive ivy and privet. Dog walkers like myself have organically developed a parallel dirt path nearer Shoal Creek. City of Decatur currently doesn’t participate in the Park Pride program, only DeKalb and City of Atlanta.
In 2003, DeKalb County Parks & Rec developed a plan for a Dearborn Park Trail extension and sought input from City and unincorporated residents, therefore, the Path Foundation did not include unincorporated DeKalb residents or DeKalb Parks and Rec staff in their update of plans for Dearborn Park Trail. They felt input from 17 years ago was sufficient.
Heavy machinery will needed to build the path and bridges necessary to connect the path to Oldfield Rd at Catherine Street and/or through the old Blue Sky condos to Memorial Drive. If this can connect to the Line Street Park path this will create a great deal of synergy. However, if no remediation is completed after the construction of the path and bridges we will lose what is most enduring about this area. Shoal Creek runs through this area and the runoff produced from a cement pathway can be detrimental to this fragile creek. We need assurances that the wildlife that lives there now will not be harmed.
There are few small pocket parks left in City of Decatur. Take a walk through here early in the morning or in the evening and you’ll see dog walkers, baby strollers and runners. Yes, Dearborn Park Trail would be a great transportation hub, however, why can’t it still be the lovely path I’ve walked my dogs in twice a day for the past 12 years.
Done right, Dearborn Park Trail could be our own little Atlanta Beltline or Westside Atlanta Beltline, yet retain the natural beauty that iswithin the park as well. Let’s hope the City of Decatur and more importantly Path Foundation do the right thing.
– Kevin Polite
Friends of Dearborn Park
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