Up­grades would span from Lake Lanier to New­nan

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - REGION -

AT­LANTA — Back­ers of a wide-rang­ing plan to de­velop a net­work of parks and trails along a vast stretch of the Chattahoochee River say it holds the prom­ise to trans­form the At­lanta metro re­gion.

The Chattahoochee River Green­way Study aims to ex­pand and con­nect ex­ist­ing greenspace to cre­ate a 100-mile cor­ri­dor from Lake Lanier to New­nan, Ge­or­gia, The At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion re­ported.

The study is be­ing ad­min­is­tered by the At­lanta Re­gional Com­mis­sion in con­junc­tion with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and non­profit groups.

The re­gional com­mis­sion is ex­pected to an­nounce a firm in the next few weeks to de­velop the $1.5 mil­lion mas­ter plan, the news­pa­per re­ported. The cost of im­ple­ment­ing that plan is un­known, but likely will be paid for with lo­cal tax dol­lars and some fed­eral match­ing funds.

“With the con­tin­ued growth of At­lanta, there’s a re­al­iza­tion that across the metro area we don’t have enough park land and re­ally don’t have enough great pub­lic spa­ces,” said Ge­orge Dusen­bury, the Ge­or­gia di­rec­tor for the Trust for Pub­lic Land, a driv­ing force be­hind the ef­fort.

The vi­sion of a con­tin­u­ous trail along the river al­ready has helped spur pub­lic and pri­vate in­vest­ment along the wa­ter­way, the At­lanta news­pa­per re­ported.

Roswell, just north of At­lanta, is build­ing its own river walk that con­nects to the Chattahoochee River Na­tional Recre­ation Area.

The surge in in­ter­est comes af­ter decades of ef­forts to clean up the Chattahoochee.

Dusen­bury said clean wa­ter, more than the eco­nomic re­cov­ery, is driv­ing in­vest­ment now. He cred­ited the Chattahoochee River­keeper with fil­ing a land­mark law­suit against At­lanta in the 1990s that forced the city to stop pol­lut­ing the wa­ter­way.

“There’s an in­cred­i­ble amount of largely un­touched greenspace, and there’s recog­ni­tion look­ing at what other cities have done em­brac­ing their wa­ter­fronts,” Dusen­bury said. “To pro­tect the river, you need peo­ple to em­brace and love the river.”

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