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Monday morning at 10 a.m., Mayor Reed officially dedicated the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. The ceremony took place on the multi-use path next to Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark with more than 200 neighbors, supporters and partners in attendance. A few minutes into the celebration, the sun peeked out from behind cloudy skies and invited people to embrace the trail. They did so wholeheartedly, as evidenced by the number of walkers, runners, and cyclists who stumbled upon the crowd of people spanning across the trail and up the embankments either side.
The festivities began with remarks by Councilmember Kwanza Hall, followed by an invocation by Rabbi Rachael Bregman. Councilmember Alex Wan, whose district starts north of the Ponce de Leon Avenue, spoke briefly and introduced the Mayor. Mayor Reed emphasized the connectivity of the trail and what an impact 2.25 miles can accomplish. Not only does the Eastside Trail unite five intown neighborhoods, it also connects to Piedmont Park and to the Stone Mountain Trail. This opens up alternative commute options and will eventually connect to a new streetcar network between a number of vital work and residential centers.
Just south of where the ceremony took place, more than 60 townhomes are currently under construction whose front doors will face the trail. As the Mayor pointed out:
The economic impact of this project on the City of Atlanta is undeniable. Within a half mile of this trail, we have already seen roughly $775 million in new private development either completed or underway since 2005.
The Mayor’s speech, which was punctuated by the clapping of hands and the ringing of bike bells, thanked the numerous partners, organizations and individuals who worked on this project.
Mr. Jim Kennedy, whose family donated $2.5 million to the trail through the PATH Foundation, spoke to the significance of the Atlanta BeltLine, calling it the single greatest project of its kind in the country. Before the first designs were put to paper and long before the first concrete was poured, Sarah and Jim Kennedy grasped the revolutionary nature of the project and specifically set aside funds to contribute when the time was right. Mr. Kennedy eventually approached Kaiser Permanente and asked if they would match his $2.5 million gift for the Eastside Trail, which they did.
Mr. Kerry Kohnen, President of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, and Dr. Martha Wilber, Associate Medical Director, praised the healthy lifestyle promoted by Atlanta’s trail system and the Eastside Trail. Mr. Kohnen said that the Atlanta BeltLine is infused into their Every Body Walk program and is already on display on a huge wall in New York City.
The trail is now officially open, though the work is not yet done. In the coming weeks and months Trees Atlanta will plant 673 new trees along the trail, as well as native plantings that will make the corridor even greener and more beautiful.
Thank you to all of the Atlanta BeltLine partners
During his speech, Mayor Reed took a few minutes to celebrate the strong, lasting partnerships that brought the Eastside Trail into fruition:
- Mr. and Mrs. Jim Kennedy
- Kaiser Permanente of Georgia
- Atlanta City Council
- Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools, who sponsor the Tax Allocation District with the City of Atlanta
- Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.
- Invest Atlanta
- The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership
- The PATH Foundation
- Trees Atlanta
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
- the Georgia Environmental Protection Division
- Perkins+Will and the Corridor Design team
- The Astra Group, the contractor for this project
- More than 30 property owners along the corridor who provided critical easements free of charge
- The Trust for Public Land