The imperiled trees of Grant Park are safe — for now.
Their removal has been paused at the request of Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith, said Mayor Kasim Reed’s senior adviser Melissa Mullinax on Monday.
The Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission a couple weeks ago denied a second appeal from residents to save the scores of trees from being destroyed in order to build a $48 million, 1,000-space parking garage for the park and Zoo Atlanta.
Also due to parking garage construction: Expect 500 fewer parking spots at Grant Park for next 18 months
The movement against the removals was started by Leigh Finlayson and his wife, Teresa, who gave out 50 signs to neighbors saying “Save The Trees of Grant Park.”
Mullinax sent a letter dated Oct. 10 to the Finlaysons and fellow Grant Park resident Kevin Ward following up from a meeting they apparently had with the mayor at Smith’s request “to determine if there’s a compromise possible,” Mullinax said.
“I don’t think there’s any place in Atlanta that you could build anything without cutting trees down,” Smith said Monday.
Smith said the temporary pause started after the Oct. 9 meeting that spawned the letter.
In part, the letter says: “The Mayor is committed to meaningful dialogue between an arborist of your choosing and a city arborist to identify feasible options for saving trees.”
It goes on to say that they should let the city know when they’ve chosen an arborist, which the city will pay for, so a meeting can be arranged.
Plans for the semi-underground Grant Park Gateway announced by Reed in April include a restaurant, outdoor greenspace and a way to harvest rainfall. All that comes at the expense of some of the trees throughout the current parking lot on the park’s Boulevard side.
The letter also mentioned that “concurrent with our tree discussion, the city will investigate potential traffic-calming measures that may be implemented on Boulevard.”
Smith said the council unanimously approved at its Monday meeting reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph on Boulevard between Mead Street and I-20.
The decision to approve the slower speed is now the mayor’s, but Smith said she expects him to OK the legislation.
Read the Oct. 10 letter below.
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