Excerpts from Creative Loafing's Political Party, Sept. 7, at Dad's Garage Theatre. The discussion was devoted exclusively to the Beltline.
Charles Brewer, developer of Glenwood Park and founder of MindSpring Enterprises: "I'm unreservedly enthusiastic about that trail and parks component of the Beltline. I mean, the bang for the buck is just off the charts. It would be so cheap to do. But I am skeptical about the transit part of the proposal. And in particular I'm skeptical about the full-blown, double-track, fixed-rail vision of the transit. If I were sitting down to design a transit network for intown Atlanta ... this route would not leap out at the top of my priority list. It doesn't run where people need to go."
George Dusenbury, Park Pride executive director: "When you look at the studies, very frequently the parks actually drive some of the development because people want to be near them. The problem is when you have that density, you don't want all of these high rises and over-dense developments because surface streets can't handle [the traffic]. I respect Charles [Brewer] and his opinion about making streets come alive. But when you talk density -- four stories, six stories, 10-story nodes -- you're going to have to give people an opportunity to travel between those nodes. And the [Beltline] transit can be a very important part of that. We're looking 20, 25 years down the road, what's Atlanta going to look like?"
Natalyn Archibong, Atlanta councilwoman: "There are some questions relative to the speed at which this is being presented now to the City Council. I think it's very important to be overly cautious -- cautious in making sure all the questions are being asked. I think we all understand the value of having better transportation. We understand the need for increasing our greenspace. We need more bike trails, more pedestrian pathways, nobody's against that but ... I think questions remain and I am very concerned about this thing."
Cathy Woolard, Beltline Partnership and former City Council president: "The opportunity we have with the transit on this Beltline is we have a right-of-way that exists. I got involved in this project because Atlanta had no vision for transportation. This plan came along and it became something that people rallied around. We're at the doorstep of being able to get the first expansion of our transit system here in the city of Atlanta, and probably the last one in my lifetime, and that's something that we really should consider. Do we want to look back in 25 years and say, 'We had the right-of-way that didn't have anything on it? And we could have put transit on it, and we could have oriented development where 150,00 new people were coming into town?' ... It's important to think about the opportunity that's before us, and the opportunity we might walk away from."
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