Battle of (South) Peachtree Creek

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This story begins back in 1996 when DeKalb County obtained federal funding to build a trail between Medlock Park and the flood plain behind North DeKalb Mall. An enthusiastic group of Medlock Park neighbors led by Tom Gould had helped the County obtain the funding to help preserve the newly designated South Peachtree Creek Nature Preserve behind the mall. We worked for a couple of years trying to clear environmental and right-of-way hurdles, but in the end, the funding was moved away and the prospects of a PATH trail in Medlock Park appeared to move away as well. In 1999, DeKalb County employed PATH to create a greenway trail master plan which ultimately included the South Peachtree Creek Trail from the mall to Mason Mill Park and the Emory University campus. In 2007, the county and PATH proposed to partner on Phase I of the trail, connecting Medlock Park to the Old Decatur Water Works site in Mason Mill Park. The Battle of (South) Peachtree Creek began in earnest when the alignment was presented in public meetings in the Spring of 2008. Neighbors, angered by the proximity of the trail to Willivee Circle, the loss of trees, and the perceived destruction of their natural buffer, launched a full-blown assault on the County, PATH, and anyone favoring the trail. There were yard signs posted, flyers distributed, temporary restraining

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orders obtained, and accusations made that PATH was stealing money from the county. Construction materials were frequently thrown into the creek, protesters stood in front of equipment trying to work, and even death threats were left on PATH employee voicemails. By the end of 2008, Phase I was completed and Phase 2 was on the drawing board. Phase 2 involved erecting a bridge over the CSX track and completing the trail to the Mason Mill Tennis Center. The Battle of (South) Peachtree Creek had subsided and Phase 2 was generally welcomed by the adjoining neighbors. In 2015, the PATH/County partnership extended the trail to Clairmont Place, and it will be further extended to Old Clairmont Road beginning next month. The trail under Clairmont Road to Emory will be dedicated later this month. Coupled with the 2017 completion of the boardwalk trail to North Druid Hills Road, the Leafmore neighborhood, Medlock Park and Mason Mill Park will be connected by trail to Emory by the end of this year. The Battle of (South) Peachtree Creek was not a fun chapter for PATH or for the neighbors who opposed the trail. Hopefully the neighbors to the trail have grown to accept and enjoy it by now. It was a necessary event if we are to provide the connectivity and neighborhood cohesiveness that PATH trails achieve.

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