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Local groups lay out Buckhead’s future
by Caroline Young
cyoung@neighbornewspapers.com
July 27, 2012 03:39 PM | 1146 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Community leaders presented residents with Buckhead’s 20-year plan, themed the “Building Blocks of Buckhead,” Friday morning during a program at the Buckhead Theatre.

Three groups, the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association, collaborated to present their progress, vision and current efforts to improve the area.

Behind the scenes, these organizations joined forces to improve Buckhead’s development standards, streetscapes, environmental issues, transportation and community sustainability.

“We need to get everything pulled together into a model to understand what’s going to be happening in the future,” said Denise Starling, executive director of the association and Livable Buckhead.

Starling and district Executive Director Jim Durrett introduced four elements of Buckhead’s vision, including transportation improvement, alternative modes of travel, sustainability and creating community.

“They all equal economic development and quality of life,” Starling said.

The groups introduced plans to transform Peachtree Road from being a “sewer for cars” to a “complete street for people,” Durrett said. They are working on managing traffic better, putting better sidewalks in place, he said, so “people want to be out in the streets,” adding bike lanes and more attractive land-scaping “to make it [Peachtree] more inviting.”

Durrett said they are working on Peachtree in three phases. Phase one is complete and phase two is in the works.

“Lenox Square is embracing this,” he said. “The private sector and public sectors are working together to create a better environment for everyone.”

Starling calls Peachtree the “pretty pony” and Piedmont Road the “workhorse of the community,” and they conducted the Piedmont Corridor Study to determine Piedmont’s main issues, too, and to “create mobility balance.”

“But there’s no silver bullet solution,” Starling said.

However, she said $2 million of total projects in the T-SPLOST would go toward implementing several solutions to issues drawn from the corridor study.

The “famous bottleneck” at Habersham Road and Piedmont, which sometimes backs traffic up to Peachtree, is going to be relieved in the next two years with funds from the district, Durrett said.

“We’re doing final work to get this area prepared to create continuous left turn lane and get back to having all thru lanes we need to handle traffic,” he said. “It will be under construction in 2013 and done within one year.”

The Greenscape Initiative is another key endeavor in Buckhead’s growth plan. In Atlanta City Council District 7, there are 2.14 acres of greenspace per 1,000 people when there should be 15 acres, according to Starling.

The initiative’s Buckhead Collection of greenspaces includes seven different systems in District 7, including dog parks, conservation parks, trails and greenways.

“106.6 acres need to be added,” Starling said. “We really need to be smart about how we’re moving things forward.”

By May, the Ga. 400 Trail design will be complete, Starling said.

She called it the “spine of the Buckhead Collection” of parks and greenspaces.

Starling calls the 5.2-mile stretch a “multi-use trail” for walkers and bikers.

“It goes from Ga. 400 all the way down to [Interstate] 85 and crosses Piedmont [Road] on the south end,” Starling said. “It’s completely different in character from top to bottom.”

Starling said more than 5,000 Buckhead residents will be within a five-minute walk from the trail.

She described parts of the trail as natural with streams and greenery, and other parts of it as urban. One chunk of the trail runs through the historic Peachtree Park neighborhood, too.

Starling said she is optimistic about the current progress and eventual success of the trail.

“We keep saying it [the trail] has pixie dust on it,” Starling said. “We are taking dead spaces in the community and leveraging them in great areas.”

Durrett said there is significant cooperation among the three organizations building the blocks of Buckhead.

“We’re trying to leverage our strengths and work together and complement each other,” he said. “We believe that the future of Buckhead really is in good shape as we are working together with you to take care of this place to prepare for the future and to make sure that we will continue to be prosperous.”

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