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Avondale Estates, consultants outline Northwoods project

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Avondale Estates, consultants outline Northwoods project

During a public meeting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, the city of Avondale Estates and consultants from Long Engineering and Lord Aeck Sargent presented the Northwoods project that will include three rain gardens near Berkeley Road and two new trails. Photo is a screenshot of the presentation.

By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Avondale Estates, GA — The Northwoods area by Lake Avondale is set to get some needed improvements. Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell along with consultants from Long Engineering and Lord Aeck Sargent on March 16 gave residents an outline of the project.

“This is an area, a wooded area near the lake and the Community Club,” Powell said. “It has the potential to be an amazing pathway and recreational area, but due to rainwater and stormwater runoff [it] has very hazardous conditions right now that are jeopardizing some of the trees within the area.”

The area is not accessible right now and plans have been on the books for a while to address the issues in the Northwoods and the consultants are working on just that.

The team recently completed site and tree surveys of the area and determined where the existing streams and wetlands are located. Since the end of January, they have worked on the schematic design process and understanding how to capture and treat rainwater.

Within the last week, Long Engineering and Lord Aeck Sargent have progressed into the construction documents phases and are refining details.

“We’ll start generating our construction documents that will go out for bid for the contractor award and then progress into construction and permitting later in the process” said Andrew Pankopp of Long Engineering.

The Northwoods project dates back to 2008 when the city created the Lake Avondale Master Plan which included a subsequent Northwoods rain garden concept plan to mitigate erosion, said Marco Ancheita of Lord Aeck Sargent.

“Effectively what’s occurring right now there’s a wetland stream that goes into the lake, but there’s a whole lot of sediment that’s building up, there’s a whole lot of erosion that’s happening, mainly because of two culverts that are located in this area,” Ancheita said.

The master plan also identified the potential for trails through the Northwoods and there are currently informal trails throughout.

The project aims to build on the master plan, take a green infrastructure approach and create an outdoor recreation area with accessible trails.

Infrastructure goals include improving water quality that’s heading into the wetland area and Lake Avondale. The broader goal is to expand upon the city’s sustainability goals through low impact development and green infrastructure.

“Green infrastructure is just about managing water in a way that’s more closely associated to natural systems,” Ancheita said. “Green infrastructure is an approach that allows you to have less pipes and more native plants.”

The natural tree canopy catches some water that falls. Most of the area is porous, so water can be filtered. The plants within the wetland area filter and clean some water before it goes to its final place, Ancheita said.

Part of that also lets water seep into the ground in the natural spot where it normally would and also creates natural habitat.

The rain gardens, an example of green infrastructure, will be located near Berkeley Road and will be three cells with each slightly lower than the other so water moves from garden to garden.

Another goal of the Lake Avondale Master Plan was to provide trails and one requirement of the grant is to provide two trails, one of which must be ADA accessible. Ancheita said they believe they can make both trails accessible for all users.

Both paths will start in the northwest corner of the park. One will go along Berkeley Road and peel downhill toward the rain gardens and will eventually connect with the existing path by the lake.

The canopy trail will branch out toward the east and go through an area with more trees, eventually connecting to a path near the Lake House.

“It allows for the potential for new loops,” Ancheita said. “This adds almost a third of a mile of trails so that you can do a pretty nice, quick loop or a long loop around the park and it just creates that last bit of connectivity needed to really kind of take a walk around the park.”

Near the trailhead there is an existing swale that the consulting team plans to stabilize with more stones and vegetation, so water doesn’t cause as much erosion, and it will bring water to the three rain gardens.

The other piece of the project is to create opportunities for exploration and learning, Ancheita said.

“With the green infrastructure approach and the really great vegetation that’s in the Northwoods, we’re really trying to make sure that they go hand in hand and that these paths are going by locations that there’s a potential for signage in the future or just seeing something that you typically wouldn’t see,” Ancheita said.

The project unfortunately doesn’t solve all the issues in the Northwoods area, but it’s a start to help mitigate some water quality and erosion issues that are happening toward the lake, Ancheita said.

Next, the consulting team will advance into construction documentation, look to further reduce the impact on trees, and keep fine tuning the design and planting details.

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