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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beltline official: Proposed bike trail will not cross Civil War battlefield

For residents along the northern quadrant of the Beltline, the stickiest subject in their neck of the woods isn't affordable housing or jobs -- it's a proposed bike trail running through Tanyard Creek Park. Atlanta Beltline Inc. CEO Terri Montague recently replied to an e-mail from a Pennsylvanian man named Scott Ney -- and who cc'ed the media in his message to Montague -- that the controversial trail will not cross the historic meadow that served as a Civil War battlefield.

She writes in her e-mail (Emphasis added):

As you may be aware, visioning and plans for a multi-use trail that connects with and makes the jewel that is Tanyard Creek Park accessible for the many additional residents and visitors who want to benefit from and enjoy its significance have been underway for quite some time. During the most recent community input opportunity (September 2007), residents were asked to suggest routing options for the planned trail. You’ll be pleased to learn that no trail is presently planned down the middle of the beautiful meadow you so aptly described. Instead, residents and planners are now considering a trail that routes either along the western edge over an existing dirt path, or on the eastern edge where in many places it will be hidden through the willows.

Ney's e-mail to Montague, reprinted with his permission, follows after the jump.

From: Scott Ney

Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 8:49 PM

To: [redacted]

Subject: Tanyard Creek Park

Dear civic leaders and concerned citizens,

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Atlanta area. While I was there, I spent a good deal of time seeing some of the sights on which the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 was played out. In particular, I was interested in seeing where the Battle of Peachtree Creek was fought on July 20, 1864, as I had an ancestor who perished the next day from a mortal wound received during the heat of the battle.

I expected that much of this area would now be part of the City of Atlanta, which of course I found to be correct, but I was thrilled to find out that during the Civil War Centennial in 1964 the City of Atlanta created Tanyard Creek Park to commemorate the battle. My visit to Tanyard Creek Park was the grand finale of an extremely worthwhile and enjoyable stay in the beautiful state of Georgia.

While at Tanyard Creek Park I took some pictures of the bronze tablets and the markers which told the story of the battle, and the landscape. On my stroll around the park I was fortunate to meet a woman from the Friends of Tanyard Creek Park, who was also there with a camera. We began to talk, and soon after we walked off of the foot-bridge that spans the creek my eyes met the beautiful green meadow. As I was admiring its beauty in the bright, late-September sun, my heart sank as she told me that a bicycle path was planned to run right down the middle of where all of the beautiful green grass is now. I thought about how beautiful this park is, and how fitting a tribute it is to the men who lost their lives in the struggle for it -- and then of the reality of how a bike path running through it would ruin those two things and render it just another piece of city real estate.

I am from Pennsylvania and live close enough to Gettysburg to be able to visit it any time I want to; it is a national shrine. I am of the opinion that any piece of ground that our men fought for and died on is scared ground. To me, the ground that was contested at the Battle of Peachtree Creek is more important than even Gettysburg, because an ancestor of mine gave his life in the struggle for it. It meant a lot to me to stand along the same line of ground where he and his division met a brave Confederate assault, and to be precisely where he, and scores of other men, made their last great sacrifices for their families and their country.

I have reflected upon my visit to that hallowed place often in the past month and a half. I am very grateful for the marker erected by the State of Georgia at the entrance of the tennis complex which identifies and commemorates the little patch historic ground where his regiment made their stand. This is all that I can hope for, because with the passage of time this spot has been claimed for the citizens and visitors of Atlanta to use as they go about their everyday lives. The Piedmont Hospital, the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, and the many houses that are on the site of the battlefield are all good things for the City of Atlanta; but I hope that the City will also have a mind and a will to continue to preserve Tanyard Creek Park just as it is today, in all of its beauty, as one of the last undeveloped places on the battlefield.

To me, Tanyard Creek Park has become a special place, and it is a national shrine and a jewel on the crown of the City of Atlanta. When the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Peachtree Creek arrives in 2014, it would be nice to see a city, grateful to the sacrifices of the sons who defended it so long ago, dedicate the park anew, and with the meadow just as green and beautiful as it is today. I will be looking on with admiration when that time comes, along with the rest of a nation who appreciates and celebrates the deeds and sacrifices made by their forefathers: the husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles, along with the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts, who supported and loved them -- so many years ago.


Scott T. Ney

[address redacted]

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