Published on February 27th, 2015 |1
Livable Buckhead gets more CID funding to support PATH400
The CID board voted unanimously to up its annual contribution to LBI from $150,000 for the past year to $200,000 this year so help pay for the organization’s development director hired in 2014
and to have a full-time sustainability director on staff to oversee project management.
“Our No. 1 priority this year is raising money for PATH400,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead. “We, last year, added a development director on board, and also we have a part-time sustainability officer that I need to bring in full-time to get me out of project management so we can get serious about fundraising.”
“Our goal is to keep funds coming in so that we have one (phase of the trail) under construction at all times,” Starling said.
In requesting the CID’s funding increase, Starling pointed to LBI’s track record of managing money well. “In 2014, 7 percent of our budget was spent on administrative activities,” she said. “Ninety-three percent of our budget went directly to programs and projects. That’s significant.”
Starling said LBI typically generates an 8-to-1 return on investment for the Buckhead community, including through its management of the Buc shuttle service.
“I think the big part of the increase of expenses was costs associated with PATH400, and to me that’s a very compelling reason to support an increase,” said CID board chair David Allman. “I readily support that because of the multiple benefits that come from that effort.”
The 5.2-mile trail, that is planned to extend from Loridans Drive on the north to the Atlanta Beltline near I-85 on the south, will be split up into at least seven phases. The first phase, from Lenox Road to Old Ivy Road, officially opened to the public in January. Pre-construction work has begun on Phase 2 north from Old Ivy.
As she began her discussion of progress on PATH400, Starling told the CID board the project had been selected as a finalist for the Atlanta Business
Chronicle’s “Land Use Deal of the Year” award.
Considering the other finalists for the award, Starling told the board, “We don’t have much of a chance to win, but we are quite honored to be included in that group of finalists.”
She said the final punch list is presently being completed on Phase 1 and necessary design changes and soil testing has been completed on Phase 2. But the design changes have resulted in about a 45-day delay in beginning work.
Starling explained that work may also begin on small segments of the trail on the south end at the same time as Phase 2 on the north end. She said they are “picking off sections based on cost—meaning money available—and whether we own the property.” Therefore, she can’t say for sure what sections will be done when.
But the reason for the budget increase request was so she could spend more of her time concentrating on fundraising—for PATH400, not just for the LBI organization—so that the momentum can be maintained in completing sections of the trail over the next few years.
While she said the goal is to raise $15 million over the next few years, the total PATH400 project cost is $28 million, Starling told the CID board.