By Chuck Meadows, Executive Director, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership
This article originally appeared in the Thought Leadership column of the Saporta Report on June 6, 2016.
The Atlanta BeltLine is advancing a transformative goal: Connecting 45 neighborhoods via a 22-mile corridor of trees, trails and transit. As Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. continues the buildout of this transformative project, a network of nonprofits is working cooperatively to bring the original vision of a greener, better connected, and more inclusive Atlanta to life.
The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (The Partnership), a private, independent 501(c)(3) organization, was formed in 2005 to facilitate the collaboration necessary for such an ambitious undertaking. Partnerships at all levels helped take the project from concept to construction. The PATH Foundation and the Trust for Public Land were key players in early efforts co-led by the City of Atlanta and business leaders like Ray Weeks and Jim Kennedy.
Eleven years later, collaboration is still king at The Partnership. Trees Atlanta has fully embraced the lead role in implementing and managing the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum – an expertly curated blend of native fauna that hugs the entire corridor. Park Pride and Hands on Atlanta work to channel and coordinate teams of volunteers that help maintain and activate BeltLine parks and trails.
The Atlanta BeltLine has also benefited greatly from partnerships with organizations like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the Atlanta Track Club, as we work to welcome a growing number of cycling and running enthusiasts to the corridor.
And collaboration is the only way the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership will be successful in our mission to empower the residents of the 45 neighborhoods. The goal here is to leverage the Atlanta BeltLine to improve health, expand housing opportunities, and increase economic opportunity. We are building on our partnerships with organizations such as The Partnership for Southern Equity, the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site to help make sure that current and future neighbors benefit from the Atlanta BeltLine in meaningful ways.
Now, thanks to Mayor Kasim Reed with the active involvement and support of the Atlanta City Council, the City of Atlanta is considering a list of transportation projects to put before voters in November. Atlantans will hopefully have the opportunity to consider two ballot initiatives – one for MARTA and one for broader transportation purposes – that could lead to major mobility investments of all types, including major components of the Atlanta BeltLine.
We look forward to working with our current partners and an expanded network of stakeholder organizations to raise awareness about this landmark opportunity to grow public transit and connectivity in Atlanta in general and advance the Atlanta BeltLine in particular. Collaboration got us this far, and it is what we will need to help close the loop.