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Victoria Estates residents oppose PATH extension along Peachtree Creek

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Victoria Estates residents oppose PATH extension along Peachtree Creek

A map showing the location of the Victoria Estates neighborhood. Map provided by Emory University

This story has been updated. 

Atlanta, GA — Amid the bustling expansion of the Beltline and nearly unbridled enthusiasm for walking paths from cities like Clarkston and Tucker, some residents of an Atlanta neighborhood are saying “no, thank you” to a proposed trail along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek. 

DeKalb County gave $280,000 to the PATH Foundation to do a scoping study for a trail along the north side of Peachtree Creek. The proposed route would follow an existing sewer easement and connect with an extension of the South Peachtree Creek Trail extending north to the North DeKalb Mall site.

Bill Lide, a board member of the Victoria Estates Neighborhood Association, said that he organized the meeting between PATH Foundation and Victoria Estates residents and was primarily concerned with ensuring that information flowed in both directions.

PATH has a long-established relationship with DeKalb County, Emory University, and the cities of Atlanta and Decatur. Eric Ganther, a consultant with PATH Foundation, said that the organization has been building paths mostly in the Atlanta area for 32 years.

Ganther said that DeKalb County approached PATH and intended to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the sewer replacement and repair already being done in the area. 

PATH Project Manager Pete Pellegrini said their project is focused on the north side of the creek because it will follow the existing easement for the sewer line.

Ganther added that in any case, the county would have to maintain access to the sewer lines in perpetuity, which means keeping the easement clear.

Some residents expressed concerns about the creek’s ecology and the forest along its banks, especially Hahn Woods, and wanted no path along the creek at all. However, many simply didn’t want the path on their side of the creek and asked why it couldn’t be located on the Emory property on the south bank of Peachtree Creek.

Ganther said that a nearby example of how PATH handles a project in an ecologically sensitive area is the boardwalk at Mason Mill Park. In response to a question about whether an ecologist was part of the project, Ganther said that the normal process would be to hire an ecologist after reaching a firmer decision about where the trail should be located.

Some residents expressed skepticism that a trail could be built without destroying the creek bank or bulldozing down trees.

“There will be no bulldozing of trees. I don’t want to bulldoze trees. That’s not what I signed up for,” said Ganther.

Other residents were concerned about cars being parked in their neighborhood, congestion, and safety. Ganther said that there are nearby access points to the trail with parking, and that the trail will be patrolled by Emory University campus police.

A couple of attendees insinuated impropriety in the county’s decision to award money to PATH. Erika Birg, who along with many people in the room was wearing a yellow “Save Our Creek” t-shirt, asked, “Isn’t it true that the $280,000 that the county gave you is equal to your entire annual salary?”

“No it doesn’t. I wish I got paid that much,” Ganther said.

Ganther emphasized several times that the purpose of the scoping project was to gather information, including neighborhood concerns.  He said that they had already met with Emory University capital planning, and that meeting with stakeholders like Emory and with nearby residents is all part of the job.

PATH Foundation plans to hold another meeting with Victoria Estates residents in May or June.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about the location of the trail and the construction process. This story has been updated with the correct information.

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