Recap: Southwest Connector Trail Groundbreaking ceremony

On Saturday, January 12, 2013, nearly 100 people gathered behind Beecher Hills Elementary School for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Southwest Connector Trail. This multi-use spur trail is a tangible sign of connectivity between the Westwood Terrace and Beecher Hills neighborhoods. By linking to the existing Lionel Hampton Trail with an eye towards the future Atlanta BeltLine, this trail has an impact on connectivity throughout the city.

Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Trail under construction
View of the bridge being built over Utoy Creek with the back of Beecher Hills Elementary School in the background. Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin.

With Councilmember Keisha Lance-Bottoms presiding as the master of ceremonies, the celebration opened with a performance by the elementary school’s chorus, led by Choral Director Ms. Ann Thomas-Davis. Next, the Student Government Association (SGA) President, Kamden Dobbs, a fifth-grader, shared his thoughts on the significance of this trail to his school, his friends, and his family.

We are elated to have the Southwest Connector Trail join the Atlanta Beltline.  This BeltLine will no doubt transform our community by increasing green space and offering alternative transportation. This connection will give us access to more diverse communities throughout the city, public parks and countless cultural experiences!  We know our students will develop a new appreciation for the nature and beauty of the City of Atlanta because of this connection.

Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Trail groundbreaking
Beecher Hills Elementary School chorus opened the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin.

Reverend Darrell Elligan, a long-time Atlanta BeltLine supporter, led the invocation. Rev. Elligan has deep roots in Atlanta as a past president of the Concerned Black Clergy, Pastor of the True Light Baptist Church, and member of the Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative Board.

Candace Byrd, Chief of Staff to Mayor Kasim Reed, spoke on his behalf. She highlighted the roles of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, which is funding the bulk of the project through Park Improvement Bonds, and the Department of Watershed Management, which owns the land and provided an easement to make the trail possible. Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves and City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, both residents of southwest Atlanta, also spoke at the event, highlighting the benefits this new amenity will bring to the community. The PATH Foundation, which was represented by Pete Pellegrini, is managing the design and construction of this trail and also contributed $200,000 towards the project.

With shovels at the ready, a group comprised of elected officials, city commissioners, Atlanta BeltLine staff and board members and members of the community tossed dirt to officially break ground on the project.

Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Trail groundbreaking
Dignitaries officially broke ground on the Southwest Connector Trail. Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin.

Several of the speakers and audience members had a history with the community, from growing up in the neighborhood to going to Beecher Hills or a rival elementary school. Seeing elected officials and community members still deeply involved in the areas they grew up in – and hearing their pride in talking about the future – is especially meaningful. We are especially thankful to principal Crystal Jones and Assistant Principal Ovura Crosby for hosting the event.

The Southwest Connector Trail, along with the Eastside Trail, the West End Trail and the Northside Trail, will bring the total of permanent trails to nearly seven miles along and near the Atlanta BeltLine.

Read more on our dedicated webpage about the Southwest Connector Trail.

Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Connector Trail under construction
Phase I will connect Beecher Hills Elementary School to Westwood Avenue. Photo credit: Christopher T. Martin.

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