Parks/Trails/Greenspaces The PATH400 Phase 1 section of trail leading up to Lenox Loop Road.

Published on July 15th, 2015 |

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Stalled PATH400 Phase 2 gets green light; more trail sections started

PATH400 Phase 2, which has been stalled for months awaiting design changes and new soil samples, has been cleared to start within the next 30 days, Livable Director Denise Starling told the Buckhead Business Association at its July 9 breakfast meeting.

Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling the July 9 meeting of the Buckhead Business Association.

Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling the July 9 meeting of the Buckhead Business Association.

Starling also reported that, while that segment will begin moving north again from Old Ivy Road to Wieuca Road, several smaller segments are presently underway on the south end of the 5.2-mile multi-use trail through east Buckhead along the side of GA 400.

Starling talked about the many facets of programs administered by Livable Buckhead—from promoting sustainability programs in Buckhead office buildings, to recycling, the Buc shuttle and even Food Truck Fridays—the majority of her presentation was about PATH400 and expanding parks and green space in Buckhead’s City Council District 7.

PATH400 RibbonAnd, the news about those two programs is impressive in their progress and with bright futures for both. (Starling’s entire Power Point presentation, can be viewed here, but the segments dealing specifically with green space and PATH400 start on slide 13 of the presentation.)

Starling’s presentation could have well been the kickoff for the capital campaign to raise business and private funding to complete the current $27 million project. However, Starling told BuckheadView she doesn’t like to announce campaign kickoffs until a portion of the funds are in-house. That is not yet the case.

This is the case at present. There are a total of 12 segments to the PATH400 trail and seven still need funding. Of the total $27 million cost for PATH400, $19

The above graphic shows the planned construction phasing of the PATH400 segments presented to the LBI board Wednesday, June 17.

The above graphic shows the planned construction phasing of the PATH400 segments presented to the LBI board Wednesday, June 17.

million is for construction and $7 million is for land cost. Raised to date is $15 million.

The funding presently needed to complete the current PATH400 project is $9,514,449, $8,654,979 of that going to construction, $132,000 to programming, $437,900 toward design and $289,575 going to land costs. There are two major easements still left to be finalized.

Starling told the business group that if anyone wanted to whip out their checkbook and write a check for the total amount—or even part of it—she would be happy to accept it. There is no federal funding involved in PATH400, just state, local and philanthropic dollars.

But PATH400 is not likely to end when the present program is completed. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) recently added PATH400 as a part of the major I-285/GA 400 interchange redevelopment program and the Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and even Alpharetta communities have already begun planning tie-in trails to PATH400, she announced.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling explains the progress of PATH400 and the funding yet needed, as well as discusses other LBI programs at the BBA July 9 meeting.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling explains the progress of PATH400 and the funding yet needed, as well as discusses other LBI programs at the BBA July 9 meeting.

That will require an extension of the present program to extend PATH400 from its present northern terminus at Loridans Drive in North Buckhead to connect to the I-285/GA 400 interchange. That is a bit in the future for now.

Among the accomplishments to date, however, PATH400 marks the first time GDOT has ever allowed its right-of-way to be used for such a project. PATH400 has gone from concept to construction in three years. Its design is complete, agency agreements are all in place and there are 22 partners involved.

She pointed to the health benefits the trail provides as well, with connections to two public schools and within an easy walk or bike ride of tens of thousands of Buckhead residences and businesses.
“Do you know that for the first time in history, our children will not have a longer lifespan than we have,” she told the business group. That is because of the overweight situation with our

This graphic shows the number of people who live within walking and biking distances from gthe PATH400 greenway.

This graphic shows the number of people who live within walking and biking distances from gthe PATH400 greenway.

children. PATH 400 provides an opportunity for children and adults to get out and walk, jog or ride bikes and hopefully become more fit.

She also pointed out it is a great stimulus for the economy. Atlanta Tech Village located where it did in Buckhead in part because of PATH400 and has graduated five more companies that each have over 100 employees who have decided to stay in Buckhead, she reported.

The key leadership partners involved, along with Livable Buckhead, are the PATH Foundation, GDOT, the Buckhead Community Improvement District and city of Atlanta. Another key partnership is with Atlanta Public Schools which gives the project all the trees from its recompense program from building new schools, which to date has a $100,000 value.

One of the great side benefits to the PATH400 program is that it will add additional parks to Council District 7, which was one of the founding reasons for Livable Buckhead in the first place.

Livable Buckhead morphed out of BATMA, which had as its main objective commuter alternatives, such as the Buc Shuttle.

Livable Buckhead morphed out of BATMA, which had as its main objective commuter alternatives, such as the Buc Shuttle.

When Livable Buckhead was formed, Council District 7 had the least amount of parks and green space of the 12 council districts. It needed an additional 106 acres to make it reasonable. To date 34 new acres of parks and green space have been added, or 32 percent of the goal.

Discussing some of the other aspects of LBI’s programs, Starling pointed out that 41 Buckhead office buildings (or 55 percent of the market) are participating in the national Better Buildings Challenge sustainability program, the largest percentage of all the Atlanta markets.

She also pointed out that LBI created a communitywide recycling program and has added a recycling program for office buildings which already has 10 buildings participating.

“Recycling is as strategy that Georgia and Atlanta really needs to embrace,” Starling told the business leaders.

Starling said there is an Arts and Culture program coming soon to Buckhead, with the goal of creating a “mile long museum” of monumental sculptures.

Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling addresses the group at Lenox Square ceremony this year with one of the Lenox Square eVgo charging stations at her right.

Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling addresses the group at Lenox Square ceremony this year with one of the Lenox Square eVgo charging stations at her right.

She pointed out that Livable Buckhead grew out of BATMA, the Buckhead Atlanta Transportation Management Association, which was an arm of the Buckhead Community Improvement District and began the Buc Shuttle as part of its commuter alternative programs.

“Buckhead was the first EV (Electric Vehicle) ready community in Atlanta,” she told the audience, and there now are 41 charging stations in Buckhead—the most in Atlanta—due to partnerships with Livable Buckhead.

And, she told the members of the business association that LBI also has the responsibility of chairing the Development Review Committees for Buckhead’s two Special Public Interest districts (SPIs) and reviews all major commercial and residential development proposals.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling discusses programs with LBI board chair Bob Stoner during a board meeting.

LBI Executive Director Denise Starling discusses programs with LBI board chair Bob Stoner during a board meeting.

Starling clearly is a busy woman with a lot on her plate, including kicking off the major funding drive for PATH400, which will cause her to spend many days and nights speaking to groups in Buckhead and beyond.

It is also clear that she has a fire in her belly for her job and the projects she works on that matches her flowing red hair. She is an engineer who has learned the art of sales and marketing as well.

 

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