I’m leaving Atlanta this summer. Which means I’m leaving behind my trees.
In an earlier post, I considered the case against allowing MARTA to extend the Atlanta Streetcar along the Eastside Beltline. Now this week’s news from the AJC:
Atlanta will close Irwin Street/Lake Avenue between Krog Street and Auburn Avenue/Sampson Street from Monday through next Sunday to study how it affects traffic in the area. The city and MARTA will evaluate the affect on surrounding neighborhoods and businesses to assess the impact of closing the stretch of road permanently for the streetcar extension.
What might be a case for the proposal?
I suppose the argument has to be this: the gain for the city would be enough to offset any losses.
Supporters no doubt believe that this first step would lead to others, so that ultimately streetcars would run the entire loop. Prefer to walk on the Westside Beltline on any given day? Hop on the streetcar. Meeting someone in Buckhead for lunch? Hop on the streetcar.
That’s fewer cars on the road. Less pollution from gas-powered engines. Smaller parking lots.
Ryan Gravel, the man who had the inspiration for the Beltline, has some helpful thoughts on how light rail can be done right. His recommendations:
- Keep it free-flowing
- Make it grass track
- Build the future for everyone
- Put your political capital into Hulsey
Read more on his own blog.
I remember when I was told by someone—correctly or not, I don’t know—that a major Atlanta-based philanthropic institution was declining (at least initially) to invest in a proposal to turn this:
“That’s totally and completely nuts,” I thought.
Now, all these years later, I will say up front that my first reaction to a proposal to put this:
Is to think: “That’s totally and completely nuts.”
First let me acknowledge these facts:
- I am a tree enthusiast.
- This is a blog about Inman Park’s trees and the work of IPNA’s Tree Watch Committee.
- My involvement with the Atlanta Beltline Arboretum reaches as far back as hearing Trees Atlanta’s Greg Levine muse aloud, “The whole 22 miles of this proposed project should be one continuous arboretum”; participating as a stakeholder in the design of the arboretum; helping to complete a survey of the trees growing naturally along the route of the Beltline; weeding the meadows; and planting and caring for trees growing along the Eastside Beltline.
So I am not unbiased. I do like the trees and the meadows. I like nature. I do have a viscerally negative reaction to the idea of pouring concrete over what is now native grasses and trees. (According to a spokesperson for MARTA, the new transit line will affect about 150 trees, 111 being “trimmed back” and the rest replaced with species that have smaller root zones.) I find the Beltline experience of people being active in a semi-natural setting very appealing.
But let’s put aside my visceral reaction. Here are some questions I have about MARTA’s proposal to extend the line of the Atlanta Streetcar along the Eastside Beltline from Irwin Street to Ponce de Leon Avenue. No doubt there are already answers to these, but in any case:
- Who will be riding the streetcar along the Beltline? Out-of-town tourists? Commuters? Atlantans curious enough to ride it at least once, just for novelty’s sake?
- Why is it better for people to ride in an enclosed, air-conditioned streetcar between Irwin Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue than to walk, bike, scoot, take a pedicab, etc., as they are doing now?
- The Beltline has been a spectacular success by almost every conceivable measure. How will the Atlanta Streetcar make the Beltline better? If you are walking along the trail, how is your experience affected by having a streetcar glide by on rails? How about if you’re dining somewhere along the Beltline?
- How would MARTA respond to this cynical assertion: “The Atlanta Streetcar is a marketing gimmick for Atlanta’s hospitality industry. Why should it be allowed to piggyback on the success of the Atlanta Beltline?”
- What happens to all the concrete, metal, etc., if and when the Atlanta Streetcar along the Beltline proves to be a bust?
- Is this an instance of shutting the barn door when the horse has already bolted? Or trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube? (I can’t get my aphorisms straight!) In other words, starting with transit and then adding a walking/biking path and some nice landscaping is one thing that might have happened with the Beltline. But it didn’t happen that way. Now that we have the Beltline we have, what do we risk losing by altering it so substantially?
Next time, I’ll try to look more positively on what the Atlanta Streetcar can add to the Beltline experience.
The Georgia Tree Council (formerly the Georgia Urban Forestry Council) has chosen to honor Inman Park Tree Watch with its 2022 Outstanding Civic Organization Grand Award.
CONGRATULATIONS to all the neighbors who have participated in the work of this IPNA committee since it was established. They include founding co-chairs of Tree Watch Richard Westrick and Nancy Morrison, the many original members of the committee, all the neighbors who have turned out whenever they could for our tree plantings and tree care projects, and for that matter, all the folks who volunteered their time to replant and care for our trees long before Tree Watch was established, reaching back to Joel Hurt himself!
On TWO upcoming weekdays, Inman Park Tree Watch and Trees Atlanta will team up to show tender loving care to some trees, young and old, which are currently beset by invasive vines, ground covers, and shrubs.
It’s called forest restoration. We need your help to restore our Inman Park forest.
On Wednesday, May 25, from 9:00 to noon, we will be working along the serpentine path through the section of Freedom Park lying between Euclid and Austin. The closest intersection to the site is Austin Avenue and Sinclair Avenue. The signup for the May 25 project is here: https://sforce.co/3Nr6Rij
On Friday, June 10, from 9:00 to noon, join us in the natural area of Springvale Park, south of Euclid, to remove invasive plants. The closest intersection is Waverly Way and Euclid Avenue. The signup for the June 10 project is here: https://bit.ly/springvaleJune10
These projects are suitable for younger children when accompanied by an adult. Bring a pair of work gloves if you have them, otherwise we’ll furnish them to you. Also a water bottle. The best clothing is long pants and closed-toe shoes or boots.
We hope to see you there! There’s a job for everyone, and your help is needed even if you cannot stay the entire time. Use the contact form on this site if you have questions.
I visited a friend over on Edgewood Avenue today — he’d asked to borrow a bucket or two of mulch, and I was happy to oblige. When I got there, I saw immediately that I’m obviously not the only one around here who is eagerly looking forward to the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes.
Right? Look, Mr. Grancy Graybeard is already wearing his party outfit.
My history with the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes begins in 1986.
In 1986, Jeanne and I were living in a third-floor apartment at 461 North Highland Avenue. Her mother came down from Philadelphia to pay us a visit, and we took her to the festival. She loved it, and she insisted on buying us that year’s poster. It’s still my favorite.
In 2004 (I think it was), Jeanne and I had been living on Waverly Way for four years.
We agreed to have our new two-story Craftsman included in that year’s Tour of Homes. This time, it was MY mother who visited. She came to help us throughout the weekend. I have wonderful memories of our younger son and his grandmother sitting on the front porch, welcoming visitors and marking those tour tickets.
In 2013, the neighborhood put 946 Waverly Way on tour again.
Oh what fun that was. We met so many wonderful people, and who wouldn’t like to be complimented on their home?
Did you know that it’s neighborhood volunteers who organize and run the Inman Park Festival & Tour of Homes? That mulching and pruning trees in preparation for Festival is just one of hundreds of tasks that have to be completed to stage a safe and successful event? That planning for the next year’s festival will begin almost as soon as this year’s festival is in the books?
It really does feel like a privilege to live in Inman Park, and as I’ve written before on this site, that’s down to the people — not the trees, not the houses, not the amenities, not the Beltline, not the buzz, but the people.
Oh, before I wrap this up, I have to share this quote from the March 24, 2004 edition of the New York Times. “Eccentric”? What a hoot!
Two weekends later … is another popular festival in one of the city’s most attractive in-town neighborhoods, the Inman Park Spring Festival and Tour of Homes two miles east of downtown. This event, less traditional and more exuberant than the Dogwood Festival, includes a parade of silly floats and clowns, a tour of some of the city’s most eccentric homes, and live entertainment and dance.
*Thanks go to former Tree Watch co-chair Richard Westrick for creating a photo gallery of posters from past festivals. You can view Richard’s album here.
**Volunteer for Festival here.