Save Henderson Mill Creek

Save the Henderson Mill Creek Floodplain / Wetlands

Responses to NextDoor Postings

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There have been many threads and many claims made on NextDoor by PATH/PCG proponents. Social media being what it is, it is difficult to respond to these statements in a coherent and long-lasting manner. As such, we are putting our answers here. This is very long because there have been a lot of NextDoor comments.

The NextDoor threads that these responses refer to are titled: “Mercer University Trail” from 10/16 (MUT), “My backyard is in the path of the proposed DeKalb bike/walk trail along the 285…” from 10/11 (BiP), and “Supporters needed - Mercer University Trail Study…” from 10/31 (SN).

1. Terminology

PATH is building roads for bicycles. It is not a trail and it is not a path, per dictionary definitions as well as common usage.

Path: The #1 definition on Merriam-Webster.com is “a trodden way.” Trodden means foot traffic, so Merriam-Webster considers “paths” as routes to be walked on. Dictionary.com #1 definition is “a way beaten, formed, or trodden by the feet of persons or animals.” Again, a route for walking, created by foot traffic. The #2 definition on dictionary.com is " a narrow walk or way." I suppose somebody can claim that a route wide enough to hold 2 Toyota Corollas side-by-side is narrow, but it isn’t in our book. This concrete swathe is not a path.

Trail: Dawn Baker (MUT) stated “one definition of a trail is a route planned or followed for a particular purpose.” We’d like to know whose definition that is, because it isn’t a dictionary definition. Steven Thompson (BiP) claims that “paths like this all over the US are widely recognized to be trails” without any backing. Again, it is not recognized in the dictionary, which is about as good as you can get to demonstrate that the terminology isn’t widely used in this way. This terminology may be widely used by PATH/PCG aficionados, but it is not widely used and is not defined this way in the dictionary.

In Dictionary.com “trail” is defined as “a path or track made across a wild region, over rough country, or the like, by the passage of people or animals.” In Merriam-Webster.com the #1 definition is “a track made by passage especially through a wilderness” and the #2 definition is “a marked or established path or route especially through a forest or mountainous region.” Established usually to mean created and maintained by usage, and Merriam-Webster already states that a path is “trodden.” Thus, this 2nd definition also means a route established by repeated walking.

Both Dawn and Steven are wrong when they claim common usage of the term “trail” and “path” applies to these wide concrete swathes.

Road: Merriam-Webster.com defines a road as “an open way for vehicles, persons, and animals.” Not a very specific definition, but definitely does apply to PATH’s proposal as this route is intended for bicycles, which are wheeled vehicles. Dictionary.com says a road is “a long, narrow stretch with a smoothed or paved surface, made for traveling by motor vehicle, carriage, etc., between two or more points; street or highway.” Smooth or paved certainly applies to PATH’s proposal. PATH proponents claim they aren’t building roads because roads are only for motorized vehicles, but that is clearly untrue by either definition. In fact, the commonality between “motorized vehicles” and “carriages” is that both are wheeled vehicles intended to carry people. Which is also what a bicycle is.

Using “road” to describe PATH’s concrete swathes is a perfectly fine, and accurate, way to use the word. And it is far more appropriate than “path” or “trail”, per dictionary definitions. We will continue to call this what it is - a bike road.

Driveways: Steven Thompson (BiP) states that “By some folks definition here it seems anything 12ft wide and concrete is a road. Your driveway is 12ft wide and has cars, but it’s not a road.” We agree! Your driveway is not a road. A road, per the definitions above, is to be used to travel between 2 points. We all agree driveways are not in this category. However, PATH’s concrete swathe is a road precisely because it is intended to be used for travel between 2 points in addition to being paved and wide enough to fit 2 cars side-by-side.

PATH is building a road system for bicycles.

Fits 2 Cars: Dawn Baker (MUT) seems to think that because it might be uncomfortable for 2 cars to pass each other on 12’ that means… what exactly? We use this illustration so that people understand just how wide this concrete swathe is. And it is wide enough to fit 2 sedans side-by-side. Frankly, that also does mean 2 sedans can pass each other as well. We’ve seen many 2-lane roads where cars need to be careful on passing, and nobody argues that these aren’t roads. Tight or not, it’s still a road.

2. “It’s Only 10’ If It Abuts Your Back Yard”

Dawn Baker (MUT) states that the bike road will “only” be 10’ wide as it abuts our neighbor’s yard. Well that is certainly considerate. My neighbors shouldn’t worry because the concrete swathe with high-access traffic running along their property line will be only 10’ instead of 12’. Dawn does not mention exactly why this small difference would make this bike road any less invasive and privacy-destroying when it is inches from my neighbor’s back yard. (Note: We’ve never seen this assertion about 10 foot width in any of the PATH study documents and don’t recall this being asserted verbally during the presentation.)

As for PATH, Eric Ganther has stated something different, but equally bad. For our unfortunate neighbor whose yard will abut this bike road, PATH will build a retaining wall topped by a fence. Right next to his property line. We’d like to see how well Dawn might like that abutting her yard.

3. By The Numbers - Percentage of Land Used

Tim Farley (BiP) calculated that PATH’s bike road will “only” take up 1.96% of the square footage of the floodplain. For now, we will disregard how naive it is to use solely square footage as a measure of damage to natural habitatats. Instead we’ll just point out that Tim’s calculations are simply wrong.

We calculated the %impacted using both Tim’s length and the correct length, just to see the difference. Using Tim’s 9400’, the impacted surface is 5.7% of the area. Using the correct 10,348 length, it increases to 6.3%. Either way, the impacted surface is far more than Tim’s claimed 1.96%. Both 5.7% and 6.3% are actually quite large numbers when you are talking about wildlife, habitat, fragile areas, and human over-use.

So, Tim was off 3-fold in his calculations. Regardless, this is an exceedingly naive and practically meaningless way to look at the issue.

This means that in some areas, between 30-55% of the habitat creekside will be removed to accomodate PATH’s planned bike road. 30-55% is a huge loss.

If Tim wants to play with numbers, he should play with meaningful numbers.

4. By The Numbers - Potential Users

Tim Farley (BiP) states that PATH’s bike road “would benefit 5000 walkers and 14,000 bikers” per PATH’s presentation. What Tim doesn’t say is that all PATH did was display census numbers for a semi-arbitrary circle that PATH drew around the affected area. These are not people who “would” benefit from this bike road. These are just people that live in the neighborhood. PATH’s (and Tim’s) usage of this number is intentionally misleading.

The only actual numbers that PATH has of people who want this trail are derived from PATH’s survey from the original 8/24 meeting. Only 59 people responded to that survey, and between 1/2 and 2/3 of those respondents were opposed. PATH does not have any real numbers demonstrating how many people in the neighborhood would want or use this bike road.

5. Wildlife (or “I’ve Seen a Deer”)

PATH proponents often say “I’ve seen a deer” in order to claim that wildlife is not impacted by PATH’s concrete roads. Vicki H and Katie Thompson (BiP) are examples of this common refrain.

Let’s be very clear. We all see deer in many places these days. We see deer sometimes in our front yards. We see them on our suburban streets. We also see them dead in the road run over by cars. Seeing a deer does not mean their habitat is undamaged. It means their habitat is diminishing. Seeing a deer somewhere tells you nothing about what habitat is/isn’t left for wildlife after people come through and construct in previously secluded, forested areas.

If PATH, or its proponents, cared about how much the habitat might be impacted they would do an actual study to determine what lives in the area, where it homes, where it feeds, and how it lives. They would then do another study after the construction to determine the effects so that this knowledge could be used in the future. PATH has never done this. Neither PATH nor its proponents want to do this.

You can tell how little PATH proponents actually understand about what wildlife inhabits the HMC floodplain by their comments. All they see are deer. All they understand are deer. All they say is that they’ve seen a deer. We love the deer too, but the deer are a small subset of what is living in the floodplain. The floodplain is home to a wide variety of animal life: deer, fox, beaver, coyotes, turtles/tortoises, frogs&toads, snakes, hawks, heron, geese, ducks, otter and even a bobcat. A wide variety of amphibians are there, as well as many of the large birds such as hawks, barred owls, various woodpecker varieties, and also a wide range of the smaller birds. The floodplain is also a bird migratory stop. Area birders consider the “Mercer Wetlands” as a hotspot of bird activity in the area and have identified 143 different species in this sliver of wilderness. HMC is a fully functioning ecosystem, and it encompasses far more than “a deer.”

6. Whose Responsibility Is It

Tim Farley (BiP) claims it is the opponents’ responsibility to show that the floodplain will be damaged and wildlife affected by this extensive construction. He is wrong. It is the developers’ responsibility to show that areas such as these will not be damaged. That is why there are environmental regulations, permits, waivers etc. It is up to PATH to prove they will not damage the habitat, and to do so without anecdotes and hand-waving. Period.

Given the nature of the floodplain and the proximity to the creek, PATH should be doing multiple environmental studies as part of this feasibility study. They are not. PATH has clearly stated they have done none. Environmental delineation, hydrological studies, environmental impact statements / environmental assessments, riparian setbacks, 401 certifications, clean water act permits, stormwater permits, environmental policy act documentation are all relevant. Yet as of this point PATH has evidently done nothing, and the presented timeline from the 9/27 presentation shows no time alloted for such studies.

It is PATH’s responsibility to show that they will not damage the habitat by conducting the appropriate studies. This construction will involve heavy machinery, a relative large fraction of a small area, and development well inside the riparian setbacks of an AE zoned floodplain containing areas of natural wetland. It is not our responsibility to show that PATH will damage the habitat, it is PATH’s responsibility to show that they won’t.

7. Distance From Homes

Tim Farley (BiP) quotes PATH’s claim that this bike road will be “from 190 FEET to 550 FEET from the houses directly across from it.” (Tim’s caps.) However, PATH’s claim is patently false on the low end, and uses misleading analysis throughout.

The homes that are closest to the planned bike road are 25’ and 95’ from it. The houses, that is. Both back yards are inches from the bike road.

In general, PATH insists in measuring from homes and not from back yard property lines. This ignores that homeowners have a right to peace, quiet, and security in their yards. It also ignores that concerns about trespass and invasion of privacy start at the property and not at the house. A proper assessment would measure the distance from the back yard property line. PATH measures from the house to make it appear that the bike road is farther than it is. Probably 200’ should be removed from all of PATH’s claimed distances.

This means that the bike road is between 0 to 350 feet from your neighbors’ property. Between 0 and 350 feet (the max!) is not all that much when you are talking about a raised 12’ wide concrete, high-traffic bike road.

As long as we are talking about the distances PATH measured, let’s also clear up the claim about the width on the commercial side. In addition to measuring from homes instead of property lines on the residential side, PATH measured distance to Flowers Road instead of the back ends of the apartments and businesses on the commercial side. This makes the floodplain area sound much wider than it actually is, from both the residential and commercial sides.

Simply quoting the numbers PATH presented does not mean those numbers are accurate. They aren’t.

8. Privacy, Security and Home Valuations

We see the home valuation issue as distinct from the privacy and security concerns, but NextDoor posters quoted studies that combined the issues so we will treat them together. (This section is long - but these articles are long, too, and they require some thought and analysis.)

Katie Thompson (BiP) states that the concern about increased crime “has been proven false repeatedly.” She quotes 2 studies for this.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6950486/: This study is completely irrelevant. It is talking about green space in general - this includes parks, anything with tree cover, and/or ground cover. This article is not even talking about bike roads such as this. The abstract states “By providing evidence that access to nature has a mitigating impact on violence in urban settings, city governments and communities are empowered to support these interventions.” Nobody is arguing that access to nature is a problem! We are arguing that a forested floodplain is an inappropriate place for a concrete bike road.

Additionally, “violent crimes” is a very small part of what neighbors are concerned about. This article is specifically looking at “murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assualt.” We aren’t talking about expected shootings on the bike road. We are talking about trespass, home break-ins (whether or not we are present), trespass, and invasion of privacy. None of which are covered by this article.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3750272: This study covers “greenways” in Indianapolis. It ties concerns about loss of home value with concerns about crime and safety. It is a review of other articles and so it is difficult to see how applicable the locations or constructions are to what is being proposed for HMC since these details aren’t discussed. It is clear, however, from the phrasing that much of these results with respect to home values are not relevant for our neighborhood.

The article quotes studies that look at “homes within 1/2 mile from the greenway.” A half mile is pretty far away. It does not represent what happens to homes backing the bike road, nor to homes on streets with direct ingress/egress routes to the bike road. It also says nothing about the neighborhoods surveyed. If a neighborhood is actually an urban neighborhood, then those purchasing homes are not pricing in value for quiet, seclusion, or nearness to undamaged natural habitat. As such, you wouldn’t see changes in home values in these cases. This HMC bike road is being planned for a quiet, secluded, non-urban neighborhood whose residents value and purchase specifically for these characteristics. It is not the same.

In another study reference, the article says nothing at all about the neighborhood characteristics in question although it does acknowledge that the neighborhoods varied. Without details of the types of neighborhoods looked or, nor of the methods used, these results are not really interpretable. Clearly different neighborhoods’ home prices are influenced by different things. People buying homes in a downtown area are unlikely to be bothered by some extra concrete for a bike road. People buying homes in areas that have a lot of green space, privacy, and natural habitat are going to be bothered by more concrete. Without details of these neighborhoods were reviewed, you cannot tell if the results are relevant.

Our neighborhood clearly places a high value on greenspace. The streets have a big tree canopy, many of the homes back on (supposedly) non-developable creek/floodplain area, there are many dead-end streets to keep traffic and noise down. These are things our neighborhood values. Adding in a high-access bike road through the floodplain will damage many of these things, and the logical concolusion is that this damage will lower home values. For the nearby homes in general, but also particularly for all of the homes that back on the affected area.

With respect to crime statistics quoted, again this is a high-level review article and so it’s difficult to determine how relevant it is. However, the article does admit that “Resident interviews indicated that they felt the trail was safe during the day but not at night.” Another study quoted was from a “disadvantaged neighborhood” which likely had a much higher baseline crime rate than ours, and so again possibly not relevant to the HMC neighborhood. A third reviewed study was quoted as stating that in 1 of 3 areas surveyed “the density of crime in the vicinity of the greenway increased.” Do you want to take your chances when the odds are 33%? Another article quoted was for a greenway built on an abandoned el line in Chicago - this is not comparable to HMC in neighborhood nor greenway location.

The article then discussed its own study, which was evidently conducted in a low-income neighborhood, seemingly quite urban given the socioeconomic characteristics described. You can’t make full assumptions of the neighborhood, but it is safe to assume a far more urban setting than ours. Although it is true that this study does show that this urban Indianopolis area did not see a significant increase in property crimes, it is also true that we have no idea how similar this neighborhood is to ours. If this neighborhood was already a busy, highly-trafficked area then the addition of a public-access greenway may simply not have changed the neighborhood characterstics significantly. That is not what we are talking about here, and so it’s relevance is… uncertain at best.

https://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/trr/1988/1168/1168-009.pdf: Tim Farley referenced this study on Seattle’s Burke-Gilman Trail. Now this study does have enough detail to see whether it is relevant to our neighborhood, and it’s pretty clear that it isn’t. First, this route was built on an abandoned railroad track. That means the location was already open, already fairly easily walked, and possibly already moderately used. That is most definitely not the situation with the HMC floodplain. In addition, the backing residences were only 20% single family homes with the remaining 80% being condominiums, assumedly positioned in larger buildings with additional security measures and no personal back yards. (The article does not say townhomes, it says condos.) This is not like our neighborhood.

That said, the study looks at both home values and crime statistics. With respect to home values, the paper does admit that “People who do not like trails would not buy property on the trail.” The article further states “To some, the trail adds value; to others, it has no effect; and to others it reduces value.” We agree. The effect on home values depends on what qualities that the purchasers of the homes care about. For our neighborhood, purchasers of homes backing the floodplain and tributaries care about the habitat, seclusion and privacy that the floodplain affords. We all, including PATH proponents, agree about this. The values of the homes backing the floodplain and tributaries will lose value because of the PATH bike road. The proponents that want the bike road do not live in these homes and do not care whether or not they back these secluded habitats. As such, they will not fill in the gap left by the current purchase pool. Homes backing the floodplain will lose significant value if PATH’s bike road is built, and this study admits it.

As to the crime rate for homes adjacent to the route, the conclusion depends on your perspective evidently. Per the article, ‘Home owners indicated that there are fewer than two incidents per year involving trail users. Police called these figures “insignificant” and “isolated cases.”’ So, it depends on whether you are one of the unlucky 2 homes per year. We don’t particularly like those odds. Of note, someone gave us a local article describing one of those unlucky few. This person was burglarized back in 2004 - $50,000 of property was taken from a home on Peachtree Battle backing one of PATH’s contested bike roads. (https://roughdraftatlanta.com/2009/02/07/a-path-to-neighbor-vs-neighbor-2/) Police may consider that insignificant and only an isolated case, but I doubt Sachas does. Ironically, the concluding statements of this study state “no discernible effect on crime rates” which is quite different than the above quoted statements from the data section. This does give some pause as to the objectivity of the study’s authors.

Lastly, the Burke-Gilman route is built upon an abandoned railroad track. It is brownspace. It is already open. And it is already highly accessible. This is not the case for the HMC floodplain, and thus casts additional doubt as to whether these results even apply to the PATH/PCG proposals.

Personal Opinions Steven Thompson (SN) states “These trails will also have a positive impact on property values as it is a extremely desirable amenity for homebuyers.” This is his personal opinion, with no backing proof. The “proof” produced by others (see above) isn’t valid. As we showed above, these studies aren’t about homes that previously backed on secluded highly wooded areas. The studies are, by and large, about homes (or condos) backing areas that were either previously open, “brown” areas rather than green, located in urban areas, and or relatively far from the bike route itself. Those situations are not this situation.

To people who buy homes backing on undeveloped forested areas, to the people who buy homes on quiet dead-end streets, a big draw is a combination of the natural beauty, quiet, privacy and seclusion of the area. Building a high-access, raised, concrete bike road will cause these homes to lose that draw, and thus lose value in general. There has been absolutely no evidence provided by any proponent that homes in these situations can even maintain their value, let alone gain value, with a bike road like this backing the houses.

If proponents are going to trade anecdotes again, we can certainly provide a long list of people who bought their homes backing the HMC area specifically because of the undeveloped nature of the surroundings. These people bought their homes for this reason, and would not have bought them had a high-access bike road run behind their houses.

9. NIMBYism

We have seen many derogatory statements about selfishness, non-neighborliness, and NIMBYism from the bike road proponents as well as from PATH. John Miller (MUT), Tim Farley (BiP) and others on these threads all say basically the same thing.

What all of these people don’t seem to understand is that the floodplain is already accessible as-is. It is Mercer/apartment property, but it is actually open for anybody who wants to explore the area. It is not gated. It is not closed. It is not inaccessible. It is available for anybody who actually wants to learn about and explore the habitat. Just walk back there!

The ability to walk through the flood plain is seasonal, to be sure. In the summer and early fall it is difficult because the grasses (in some areas) are so tall. But in the other seasons, not so hard.

Evidently John, Tim, Vicki, Katie, Steve and many others feel that if there isn’t concrete under their feet, then they can’t walk through an area. We cannot disagree more. And fundamentally, this disagreement underlies practically all of the arguments about this topic. You do not have to have concrete on the ground in order to walk through a forest!

Additionally, Tim states “Now Mercer comes along and wants to build a trail through that would let hundreds or thousands of YOUR NEIGHBORS to ALSO enjoy this habitat by walking through it.” (Tim’s caps, not ours). Hundreds or thousands of people? In this tiny, fragile floodplain? Tim is right - we do not want that many people in this area. Frankly, we don’t think Mercer does either. And we are quite sure that an ecologist would also not want this. This type of high-volume human activity is precisely what will destroy this small habitat, and is precisely what we are opposed to. Open availability, but in low volumes, is what is appropriate for an area this small, this narrow, and this fragile. And that is what it is now.

If it’s preferred to provide a designated path to walk, then why won’t PATH and Dekalb consider a narrow, low-impact, natural trail? One where you actually walk on the ground. Where you don’t import any foreign materials into the area. Where you do not construct concrete swathes. Henderson Park, John’s Homestead, and Mercer already have real walking trails through natural habitats. These are all excellent examples of low-impact access for those who want to explore a bit more easily. Tim and the rest would not be seeing this type of pushback, were PATH/Dekalb/proponents actually willing to accept a real trail such as these.

We are not selfish and we are not denying access. We are protecting nature and we are protecting our neighbors. You do not have to walk on concrete in a man-made city park in order to get outdoors. There are other ways to access and enjoy the narrow creekside habitat, non-damaging ways. We wish this would be acknowledged.

10. Flood Plain Access

John Miller (MUT), Tim Farley (BiP) and many other NextDoor posters do not seem to understand, as stated above, that the flood plain is already accessible.

Area birders frequently hike into the the “Mercer Wetlands”, which they consider a hotspot of bird activity in the area. They have identified 143 different species in this sliver of wilderness. We have seen children explore it, adults walk into/through it, and grandparents walk their dogs in it. None of them seemed to need a concrete road under their feet in order to walk around in the floodplain.

The only thing that is needed is an ability to walk and a desire to be in nature, as it is.

11. Proximity to Trails and Parks

Andrew Hughes (MUT) says he must drive 30-50 minutes to get to a trail. Vicki H (BiP) is sad that she has to drive to Roswell/Alpharetta to use Big Creek Greenway. Tim Farley (BiP) says that families with children, walkers and runners must drive half an hour to be able to use beautiful greenspace.

Andrew may choose to drive 30-50 minutes and Vicki may choose to drive up to Roswell, but neither of them need to. Families with kids certainly don’t need to drive 30 minutes to reach beautiful, walkable, natural habitats and explore them up close. And as to Tim’s walkers and joggers, they can’t use PATH’s concrete bike road anyway unless they want to see an orthopedist about having joints replaced.

There are already many greenspaces and trails available within a 5-10 minute drive of our neighborhood. Henderson Park has lovely trails running through the wooded area and around the wetter, marshy area of the lake. John’s Homestead has an excellent trail system, also going through woodland, marshes, and around Brothers Lake. Mercer’s Cecil B Day trails are also open access and very nice. Emory has a trail through the Hahn Woods and Lullwater. Mason Mill park also has a trail system, although unfortunately much concrete has recently been laid on top of what was previously beautiful, natural trails. Nonetheless, it is there and it is close by.

We have an abundance of nearby trails now. Why isn’t Andrew Hughes using any of them? Or VickiH? Or Tim Farley?

We don’t live in an urban jungle - we aren’t New York, we aren’t Chicago, and we aren’t even downtown Atlanta. We are a residential, suburban neighborhood that has a lot of greenspace access already.

Proponents need to understand what resources already exist in the neighborhood before they insist on major construction inside a narrow sliver of a floodplain.

12. Permeable Concrete

Laurie H (BiP) states that “The new trails I’m aware of, such as Beltline and Greenway, are built to be permeable.” This is interesting. Exactly what type of “permeability” is she referring to? PATH does not mention this at all on their website, which makes us quite dubious as to what, if anything, they have done. The North Fork PCG document claims some sort of “swale” under the concrete, but walking on the PCG Section1 14’ swathe, we see no evidence of drainage areas.

None of PATH’s documents talk about the current catchword “pervious concrete” but Eric Ganther did throw out this term in passing at the 9/27 presentation. So we looked it up. This material does exist and is used… in urban settings. We saw nothing whatsoever claiming it is an adequate or acceptable material for a floodplain. We also saw notes that it must be maintained and kept clean in order to function, something that surely will never happen in the HMC area given how heavily wooded it is.

Lastly, we saw nothing that compared any “permeable concrete” solutions to the permeability of actual soil and natural habitat. The relevant question is not “is this material more permeable than concrete?” The relevant question is “is this material as permeable as natural habitat?” We suspect the answer to that is a clear No, but any comparison of the absorptive capacity of a 14’ wide concrete road relative to the absorptive capacity of the natural creekbed would be most welcome.

13. Mercer

Tim Farley (BiP) states “what about Mercer’s rights as a property owner to do what they choose with the property they own? How is that fair to them?” This is a curious statement. It is true, we are trying to explain to Mercer why allowing this bike road through their property is a bad thing to do. Nonetheless, it is also true that a combination of PATH, PCG, Dekalb and proponents such as Tim are all trying to tell Mercer that this bike road is a good thing to do.

Why is it “fair” for Tim, PATH, PCG, and Dekalb to try to influence Mercer, but it is “not fair” for homeowners who have peacefully lived at Mercer’s side for up to 40 years appreciating Mercer as a neighbor as well as a good steward of the floodplain to do the same?

Is it only “fair” if you get to say what you want but nobody else gets to talk?

14. Brookhaven / First Section of PCG - the “Model Mile”

Tim Farley (BiP) states “stop making comparisons to the Brookhaven section of the PCG - that is an entirely different design of ’linear park.’” He further states “Its not a fair comparison but you naysayers keep bringing it up.” To clarify, we started looking at this section of the PCG because PATH told us to. PATH said it was their model segment, that they were proud of it and wanted to do this for the rest of the PCG.

So we looked. And we didn’t much like what we saw. And now suddenly PATH is saying, just like Tim, to not consider that area.

PATH was proud of the PCG section1 until they got pushback. Until people actually looked at how much habitat was destroyed (yes, destroyed is the proper terminology for what was done). Until people saw that the riparian setback was ignored. That natural brush and grasses were replaced by manicured and mowed lawn. Until people saw that the “trail” was 14’ wide concrete with another 20-30 feet cleared on the side to make room for the lawn.

This is what PATH wants to do in areas that look quite similar to the HMC floodplain. Just look at the natural state of the North Fork of Peachtree Creek adjacent to the area of PATH’s “linear park.” It can be easily seen from the bridge across Briarwood. It looks like a forest. Look at the area by Mercer that PCG and Robert Patrick gladly walked people through on the 9/27 PCG promotion. That also looks similar to much of the HMC floodplain. If PATH paves its 14’ concrete swathe through that area of the North Fork, then the concrete will be practically creekside. In that case, PATH won’t clear the additional 20-30’ to be replaced by lawn because the isn’t even an additional 20-30’ there!

The issue is not whether there is commercial or residential backing on the PCG first section. The issue is what PATH did. And that it indicates what PATH wants to do to the rest of the creekbed.

PATH told us to look. So we looked and we learned. It is 100% appropriate for us to bring up the PCG because it clearly shows how invasive, damaging, and downright destructive these PATH bike roads are to the remaining natural habitat of the floodplain.

15. Runners and Joggers

Tim Farley (BiP) has implied that runners and joggers can use PATH’s concrete bike road. PATH and PCG also say this, displaying many pictures of happy runners on the concrete.

The reality, however, is different. Concrete is a very hard surface, and a very bad surface for any regular running, jogging, or even longer distance walking. This is common knowledge in the running/jogging community, and is not even considered a debateable point. This is why runners and joggers use asphalt streets instead of sidewalks. It isn’t the cracks in the sidewalks, it is the hardness of the surface.

PATH knows this. When this was brought up in the 9/27 meeting, Eric Ganther defended the use of concrete only based on its durability. He made no attempt (probably because he knows he can’t) to say that concrete is a good surface for runners/joggers/longer distance walkers.

Tim likely knows this. His NextDoor comment stated that he jogs at Cochran Shoals, which is a gravel path. Gravel is a very soft running material, even better than asphalt. Tim probably knows better too.

Blocking a concrete swathe through the floodplain will not affect runners, joggers, or regular longer-distance walkers because they know better than to use it.

16. Who Owns the Property

Steven Thompson (BiP) stated that the land for the HMC floodplain bike road will “only be on land owned by Mercer University and DeKalb County.” This is not correct. The HMC bike road will go through land that is 3/4 owned by Mercer and 1/4 owned by the 2 apartment complexes backing the Henderson Woods neighborhood. None of this property is actually owned by the county.

This is not really relevant to the argument, but it is an indication that Steven Thompson is not as well-informed as he may sound.

17. Invasives and Debris

Steven Thompson (SN) claims that building this bike road will help control invasive species and aid debris removal. We’ve heard this statement many times from many proponents. There is no way that a raised, railed concrete bike road is going to help anybody do anything regarding invasives and debris. The ground is not accessible from this bike road and people on the bike road. PATH/PCG proponents love to say “more eyes” will magically clear the area, but they never have said that these groups will invest any time, money or effort to do this. They have no interest in doing this. If they wanted to do this, they can do it now without a concrete bike road.

As we’ve said many times, the area is traversable on foot as-is. And, in fact, some local groups have occasionally organized clearing efforts. If PATH/PCG/proponents actually cared about this issue, they could do the same. But they won’t. The problems with invasives and debris are simply marketing tools for proponents. Another “green” claim they can make to try to sell the bike road to the community.

18. Health and Well-Being

Steven Thompson (SN) states that “green trails such as this have such a positive impact on the health and wellness of the community.” There is nothing green about concrete, but other than that we do agree that access to the outdoors has a postive impact on health and wellness. We all agree about that. What we don’t agree about, is whether this bike road is necessary to provide outdoor access in this community. It is not.

As we show in detail in #11, our community already has a very large number of beautiful green spaces for us to all enjoy. We do not need bike road access to the HMC floodplain in order to be outside and enjoy the health benefits of nature.

19. Critical to Connect Mercer to PCG

Steve Thompson (SN) states that using HMC floodplain will affect “the potential for trails across Mercer University’s campus to connect to the future Peachtree Creek Greenway trail.” This is blatantly untrue. We have shown in prior pages that the other “trails” proposed by PATH can easily connect to PCG without touching the HMC floodplain. The HMC spur is absolutly unnecessary to establish any connectivity to PCG.

Eric Ganther stated the situation bluntly in the 9/27 meeting. They are insisting on using the HMC floodplain “because we can.” Not because they need to, not because it’s required. Just because they can.

The HMC route is not necessary for any connectivity to the PCG.

Social Media

Social media does not work well when trying to explain detailed answers. You can see this easily in these NextDoor threads. It’s much more effective to clearly tell the decision makers, PATH and Dekalb and Mercer, that you DO understand the negatives of developing in the floodplain, and that you DO NOT want them to build this bike road.

Tell PATH to use Flowers Road.

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