Just days after a temporary injunction to stop construction of the multi-use trail in Brook Run Park was lifted, the plaintiffs appealed their motion to the Supreme Court.
And, as promised by the city, contractors were at work Monday clearing the old narrow asphalt path for replacement by a 12-foot ribbon of concrete.
The notice of appeal was filed on behalf of 23 Dunwoody residents who live downstream of the park in the Lakeview Oaks community, an area plagued with flooding after heavy rains. Attorneys David Stack and Jenny Culler of Stack & Associates, P.C. filed the appeal.
The trail project has been under fire from citizens since it was revealed that city plans had changed from a 6-foot-wide asphalt trail to a 12-foot-wide concrete trail. Citizens objected to the size, composition, cost and location of the trail which will run through a heavily forested area of the park.
Citizen frustration grew even more when City Manager Warren Hutmacher said last August that he didn’t understand why the public would need to be involved in the changes to trail, what he termed a detail issue.
“It’s just a difference between cost and look,” said Hutmacher. “We’ve hired an expert in Brent Walker to handle those details.”
Lakeview Oaks homeowners Beverly Armento and Rebecca More filed the initial temporary restraining order against the city in December. A full two-day hearing was held in late January with Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie ruling against the plaintiffs citing burden of proof issues. By the time of the hearing, the plaintiff list had grown to more than 20.
The notice of appeal states that completing the trail project will increase the volume and rate of storm water from the park to certain of the plaintiff’s property during and after each rain event. Also noted in the appeal is that the injunction would not cause injury to the city. Based on this fact, the attorneys wrote that “harm to the plaintiffs greatly outweighs harm to the city.”
The plaintiffs are seeking another temporary injunction pending appeal. In the meantime, the city is moving forward with plans to begin cutting down more than 200 trees for the first of three phases of the concrete path.
Opponents of the proposed trail have been referred to as a small minority and have set out to prove otherwise by organizing and starting a petition which, to date, has garnered more than 1,100 signatures.
City council meetings are often attended by more than a dozen citizens opposed to the current trail design and last week’s meeting was no exception. While council also heard from two citizens who spoke in favor of the trail as designed, eight others spoke against it during public comment, including Barbara Pryor.
Pryor took exception to claims that the trail width was required to meet the American with Disabilities Act standards. Pryor contacted an ADA specialist.
“For the trail to meet the requirements, it must have a firm and stable surface, a minimum clear tread width of 36 inches, and a max average running slope of 5 percent,” said Pryor.
Pryor also told council that the Dunwoody Nature Center recently installed a trail that is ADA compliant and is at most, four feet wide. It is a dirt surface, said Pryor, covered with a small pebble like material.
After studying ADA guidelines, Pryor shared that the ADA concluded that a trail should not cause substantial harm to cultural, historic, or significant natural features.
“The slashing down of specimen trees along the proposed trail with a clearing of 20 to 50 feet wide definitely does not meet those guidelines,” said Pryor.
Homeowner Travis Reid told council he supported the planned improvements in the park and said that investments like this enhance the quality of life in the city. Reid said that he was looking forward to enjoying the amenity with his wife and three sons.
Longtime citizen Renate Herod spoke against the trail in its current version and likened city council to DeKalb County commissioners.
“Dunwoody wanted local control,” said Herod. “They wanted the government to listen and it doesn’t seem we are getting that. I think the fact that there were no public meetings as the changes were made shows that you really don’t care what the Dunwoody people want. Please be better than DeKalb County.”