Friday, June 18, 2010

Could the 'significant' Beltline announcement be a bike trail to Piedmont Park?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM

beltline_dog_grooming_NE.JPG
  • Thomas Wheatley

The area in the photo above is the approximate location where Mayor Kasim Reed and Beltline officials on Saturday will make a "significant announcement" about the 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit. They've kept mum on the details. ("Come out on Saturday and find out" is all a Beltline spokesman would tell us.) One source says a giant tent has already been erected near the site, which is near City Hall East, the Masquerade and Barking Hound Vilage.

So what's it going to be?

Well, we've heard a couple of possibilities, including a bike trail that would connect Memorial Drive and Piedmont Park. Work on the trail, which would ostensibly wind past Inman Park Village and the Beltine's proposed skate park, could begin as early as October. (This dovetails with what project officials said last night at the Beltline's quarterly briefing. When telling residents about projects currently underway around the corridor, one official said the Eastside Trail's "design and construction documents" phase is scheduled to start next month. Construction is expected to begin this fall.)

That kind of announcement could help Beltline officials add to the project's momentum that's been building since the Southwest and Northeast segments were cleared for urban hiking trails and public art exhibitions. It'd also be a concrete feature (literally) that residents and visitors could use — and in the process, get a clearer understanding of a multibillion-dollar project that some people still refer to as the "Beltway." (Say you live in Poncey-Highland or Reynoldstown and work near Midtown. Once the trail's complete, you'd have a car-free and relatively flat route to pedal to work.)

Another possibility: A large gift from a foundation or private company. This wouldn't be a first for the Beltline, which has seen contributions from such philanthropic organizations as the Arthur Blank Foundation and Wachovia. But it'd help explain the fanfare. Why the mayor and Beltline officials would choose this particular location, however, is unclear.

Or maybe it's the announcement of something entirely different. (Maybe a new business in the vacant lot near Somerset Terrace and North Avenue?) If any of this speculation and rumor mongering got your hopes up and officials end up announcing a new drinking water fountain, we sincerely apologize. Regardless, we'll learn more on Saturday.

If you're in the neighborhood and thinking about attending — which we encourage you to do — you can find all the event details here.

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