During a presentation Thursday at the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods’ monthly meeting at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead, she said her group put together the Buckhead Collection to grow greenspace by an overall 106 acres, and one major key element is trails.
The 5.2-mile Ga. 400 Trail design is 30 percent complete, Starling said, with another segment almost done to make the plan 60 percent complete.
“The trail is basically the spine that connects the whole broader park system together,” Starling said. “The trail is mostly within [unused] land already in public ownership. A project like this would never get done if that were not the case. [It] would be too expensive to have done.”
The Georgia Department of Transportation, which owns most of the 5.2-mile trail’s land, approved the construction design plan this week, she said.
Construction of the trail will begin in the first quarter of next year, Starling said, and they have reached 45 to 50 percent of the $10 million estimated cost. They will begin a capital campaign this year to raise the rest.
Safety and security is the primary concern of the trail, Starling said, and trail lighting is a big debate.
“It is going to be open from dawn until dusk like other parks,” she said. “Putting lights encourages use at night. We don’t want that.”
Starling said she personally does not want cameras on the trail because “trails don’t bring crime.”
However, the community clearly said cameras are wanted, and Livable Buckhead is working with IronSky and the Atlanta Police Department to implement them.
“We want to figure out how to do them and be cost effective, in key areas but don’t make it feel like a prison yard,” she said. “We are looking at 911 phones as well.”
She said there will be mile markers on the trail so police can find any possible victims quickly.
“There are also landscape design principles where you don’t do things to create corners for people to hide around,” she said.
Starling said she estimates the trail will be fully completed within five years.
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In other news, Maj. Van Hobbs, commander of the Atlanta Police’s Zone 2 substation, reported to the council the overall crime in Zone 2 is down 5 percent from this time last year.
And the police started tracking percentages of car larcenies Jan. 1 on a week-by-week basis, which is the largest crime category in Zone 2.
“On the first week [of January], we were down 31 percent [in car larcenies] compared to last year,” he said. “We’re trending in the right direction.”
He said the majority of victims of car thefts are out-of-towners and is working to possibly create a statewide “Move it or Lose it” campaign, enabling people outside of the area to be more aware when traveling to Atlanta.
He also said there will be “more blue lights” on, especially around Piedmont and Peachtree roads, with increased checkpoints for issues like drunk driving.
“We’re trying to saturate the area and let people know, if you want to come up here and have a good time, fine, but don’t come up here and mess around,” Hobbs said.
Additionally, the council voted unanimously to elect Tom Tidwell of the West Paces Northside neighborhood to vice chair.