Published on January 7th, 2015 |2
Livable Buckhead: PATH400 Phase I one of many big wins
Formed in 2011, Livable Buckhead’s mission is “to ensure the long term vitality and prosperity of the Buckhead community by working cooperatively with individuals, public entities and private businesses to integrate into everyday life and business sustainable strategies that improve the environment and quality of life in the community.”
In those four short years, here are the organization’s major accomplishments, as reported recently by LBI Executive Director Denise Starling:
• The completion and opening of the PATH400 Phase 1 on time and under budget in just four years from it first was only a twinkle in someone’s eyes.
• The addition of 26 acres of park/greenspace to City Council District 7, which had the least amount of greenspace of any of the 12 council districts in Atlanta.
• Got the city of Atlanta to invest $782,400 in Buckhead park space purchases.
• Brokered park space acquisitions for the city of Atlanta.
• Obtained $75,000 value in trees for planting in Buckhead’s Council District 7.
• Secured $45,000 recycling grant.
• Secured Park Pride Legacy grants two years in a row totaling $200,000.
• Leveraged by 2-to-1 the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s investment in PATH400.
• Removed 18 million vehicle miles traveled by metro Atlanta commuters to and within Buckhead.
• Created a 27 percent increase in MARTA ridership in Buckhead.
• Disposed properly of 21 tons of harmful hazardous household waste.
• Had four partners recognized in 2014 as heroes in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge.
The most visible and publicly exciting program accomplishments of Livable Buckhead may well mostly deal with new parks, trails and greenspace in the eastern segment of Buckhead.
But equally important to fulfilling its mission of improving sustainability, the environment and quality of life in Buckhead—for residents, businesses and visitors are all of the organization’s program areas. Those are (straight from LBI’s webpage):
Sustainability – Serve as a leader in sustainable community practices to retain existing businesses, attract new businesses and ensure continued community investment.
Resource Conservation – Reduce consumption and increase reclamation of valuable energy and water resources.
Access + Mobility – Provide transportation choice through integrated land use and transportation planning and implementation efforts.
Greenspace – Encourage the development and use of significant public green spaces to enhance community vibrance, health and identity.
Public Health & Safety – Support the Atlanta Police Department and local building security in providing a safe and secure environment for all people and property in the Buckhead community by facilitating information exchange.
Innovation – Showcase and encourage the development of new sustainable strategies in real world applications.
At the end of 2014, Starling presented an update on LBI’s work to the boards of both LBI and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, a key partner just about all of LBI’s work. The following are some of the highlights from that report.
PATH400 is a good starting point. Not an easy program to move as far as it has in just four years because of all the intricate negotiations that it required with the Georgia Department of Transportation (to get the use of the GA 400 right-of-way), with two railroads (to gain access through parts of their properties), dealing with neighborhoods and individual property owners and finding funding.
But, Friday at 10 a.m. there will be a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting to open phase 1 of the completed construction. Then on Jan. 24 there will be second opening celebration for the general public—on the trail and with a bicycle parade and unveiling of children’s art pieces.
PATH 400 construction breaks down this way. Phase 1 from Lenox Road to Old Ivy was completed by the end of 2014. Phase 2 from Old Ivy to Wieuca has been launched and will be
completed by the end of 2015. Phase 3 from Sidney Marcus Blvd. to Miami Circle will begin in 2015 and be completed in 2014. And Phase 4, from, Wieuca to Mountain Way Common park will begin in 2016 and end in early 2017.
PATH 400 Phase 1 was completed on schedule and under budget, with minimal traffic disruption with the help of 13 partners–including the PATH Foundation, Buckhead Community Improvement District, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and city of Atlanta. It was completed in just four years from initial conception.
Another major success story for LBI has been its communitywide recycling programs, which includes involving major buildings in the central business district of Buckhead in a recycling program that has reduced their costs by 10-49 percent through leverage collective buying power and created a diversion rate of 50 percent.
In addition, LBI’s annual one-day Eco Collection program—in conjunction with City Council members Howard Shook and Yolanda Adrean—this year collected 21 tons of hazardous household waste, including 4,500 pounds of paint, 9,000 pounds of paper, 10,353 pounds of electronics, 315 pounds of light bulbs and 845 pounds of batteries. There were 363 Buckhead residents who participated by bringing items to the collection site.
LBI has spearheaded a program that has resulted in Buckhead being the first EV (electric vehicle) Ready Office Market in Atlanta. Twenty-three EV charging stations have been installed at retail and office locations and 20 additional charges have been installed outside of Buckhead by participating partners.
LBI leveraged a national grand program and a relationship with Georgia Power to get this accomplished.
Another LBI program focused on the environment is its participation and leadership in the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge—a program to make buildings more conscious of environmental opportunities and to help them make adjustments to meets standards of the program to reduce energy use by 20 percent.
LBI has 41 Buckhead buildings participating in the program, which represents 55 percent of the office market based on square feet. That is greater than both Denver and Boston. Thirty of the participants are Energy Star Certified and 11
LEED certified. The program involves office buildings, retail, nonprofits and schools.
In 2014, Buckhead had top performers honored by the program. Those were the Atlanta History Center, Two Live Oak, Westminster Schools and Atlanta Tech Village. Mark Gallman of Alliance Center was presented the Individual Impact Award.
LBI also has been a leading force in more historic and artistic programs. LBI served on the core development team for the Buckhead Heritage Society’s Interpretative History Plan to devise ways to present the history of the community through 21st century technology throughout the community.
The Heritage Society’s program was actually an outgrowth of the Greenspace Plan developed by LBI as part of its initial mission and LBI also worked with the Heritage Society to develop installation plans for Charlie Loudermilk Park.
LBI also is working on Mile Long Museum plan, which presently is in development phase, to place 36 pieces of public art on display in Buckhead in concert with more than 30 galleries in the community.
The staff of LBI have also organized and produced a number of special community events over the past year, including 10 weeks of food trucks appearing once a week to feed 200 people, a special event to introduce goats who were used to clear underbrush at Mountain Way Commons park, a Bike Challenge that brought out 95 people , 20 employers and included 2 safety classes. There also were commute events that included 120 employees and 67 commuters.
But LBI also held a “Playing with Shadows Art Contest” to get Buckhead elementary school children involved in the PATH400 trail project by having them design art that will be turned
into permanent art displays that will cast shadows across the trail to make the walk more enjoyable.
Returning to the roots of the organization, LBI was formed to create more parks, trails and greenspaces in City Council District 7 in Buckhead, which four years ago was dead last among City Council districts in terms of park acreage. It created the Buckhead Collection Vision having 106.6 acres of park space in the district.
So far, the park land acquired totals 34 acres (32 percent of the goal) and includes 13 acres for PATH400, 8 acres as Mountain Way Common, 1 acre Benning property, 1 acre at 519 Old Ivy, 1 acre of Tower Place conservation easement and 2 acres at the planned Amli development on Roxboro Road at East Paces Ferry.
It is a good start on an adventurous goal.
So what are Livable Buckhead’s priorities for 2015?
• Complete Phase 2 and begin Phase 3 of PATH400, as well as launch the PATH400 capital campaign.
• Redefine and expand existing programs.
• Formally launch Buckhead Recycles.
• Launch the Mile Long Museum program.
Oh, and included in the workplan for 2015 is fully integrating all of the former work of BATMA (the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association) into the daily operations of LBI. For more on that story, click here.
To learn more about Livable Buckhead and/or financially support its work, click here.