The Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District released a survey last week asking residents to weigh in on connecting McDaniel Farm Park to the larger commercial district and existing trail network. The 134-acre park is nestled just off Satellite Boulevard within short walking distance to Gwinnett Place Mall and visible, but not easily accessible, to several office towers.
Nearly every city in Gwinnett has, or is planning to build, a multi-use trail with most working to connect to the 150 miles of existing county trails.
According to Gwinnett Greenspace Planner Marcie Moore, the county has long-range plans to create a “loop” trail to provide connections to Shorty Howell Park, McDaniel Farm Park, Peachtree Ridge Park and Suwanee Creek Park. The loop will consist of portions of the Western Gwinnett Bikeway, Sweetwater Creek Greenway, Singleton Creek Greenway, Satellite Boulevard Multi-Use Path and the Lower Suwanee Greenway.
Eventually this loop trail would be part of the greater planned trail system by linking to the existing Suwanee Creek Greenway as well as the future Chattahoochee Greenway, Central City Greenway and Bromolow Greenway.
In repeated surveys, residents state they want more walking trails and ways to connect to existing parks. Gwinnett officials want to understand how residents envision themselves using these trails. Is it for recreation or health reasons? Are residents looking for transportation alternatives? What destinations do they want to reach? Do they want to bike or walk to neighborhoods, playgrounds, schools, nature, shopping, work, restaurants, grocery stores?
Can Gwinnett envision this network of trails becoming their own integrated approach to connecting neighborhoods, transportation, land use, greenspace and sustainable growth like Atlanta’s BeltLine?
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LAST WEEK: SHOULD GUNS BE ALLOWED ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES?
The Georgia Legislature recently approved and sent to Gov. Nathan Deal a measure, House Bill 859, that would allow anyone 21 or older with a weapons license to carry a gun, concealed, on college and university campuses except for inside dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses and at athletic events.
Here’s what readers had to say about it:
Assaults will never be eliminated on and near campuses. With wide-open borders allowing in criminals from all over the world, times have changed. What the new carry law will do is allow vigilant and cautious students and faculty to neutralize a situation quickly. More veterans are in college on the GI Bill. These men and women are weapons-trained. Off-duty police and fire personnel also are students. To deny them the right to protect themselves is lunacy. This bill is needed and long overdue. – Kermit Smith
Passage of House Bill 859 is a bad idea for several reasons, but the greatest being that there is no requirement for any weapons qualification attached. Law enforcement and military personnel are required to qualify on gun ranges so there is a good chance they’ll hit the target they shoot at. Handguns are generally less accurate than long guns, and the lack of accuracy is deadly when combined with a stressful situation, adrenalin rush, and a lack of weapons qualification. How many innocent bystanders might be killed or injured? – Mike Deal
The campus carry legislation is a horrific idea, especially as far as the college professor is concerned. All students do not get an A+, nor do they deserve one, but whether deserved or not, some might be offended if their grade is not what they expected. How does a professor defend him/herself from a disgruntled individual? – Dewey Teal
No guns on campus! – Amy DeLoach
Please publish the number and percentage of students 21 or older when you put up articles about campus carry. I would worry if ALL students were allowed to carry, but I am thinking the number of 21-and-older students is much smaller and more mature. Unfortunately, the crooks will just be sure to target younger students. – Jim Nealand
If the students with carry permits had to show proficiency with the firearms and a thorough knowledge of when to shoot or not shoot, as police officers are trained, it would be more comfortable for all. – Bill Kohler
I am a native Georgian, a university professor, and a gun owner. I grew up on a large farm in Haralson County, and hunting with my father is one of my favorite memories from childhood. I was taught how to shoot, and most of all, I was taught to be careful with firearms. I currently own a hunting rifle, a Browning 12-gauge shotgun and a Beretta pistol. I have taught at Kennesaw State University since 1978, and never in all those years have I seen any reason to bring one of my guns to campus. Guns do not belong on campus except in the hands of our trained security personnel. Allowing students – or for that matter, faculty – to bring guns on campus creates the potential for accidental death or injury, and in the case of a genuine security emergency, it makes the jobs of our police officers much more difficult. I hope Governor Deal will consider the fact that the Georgia Board of Regents has voiced its opposition to the bill, and that he will veto the measure before him. – Dr. Howard Shealy
“Is campus carry legislation a good idea for colleges?” The short answer is no. With or without legislation, licensed or not, guns on college campuses make life more dangerous and stressful for students, faculty, administrators and visitors. Since gun license laws include an age limit of 21 years, the vast majority of underclassmen (arguably the most naïve and vulnerable group) will remain unarmed and still at risk from criminals and campus miscreants. Now add the new threat to all campus citizens of gun-toting upperclassmen, visitors, deliverymen, janitors, tailgaters and miscellaneous others who happen onto the campus at will. This bill does nothing but diminish campus safety and endanger education processes. – Steve Scarbrough
As is usual in Georgia politics and popular opinion, there is a distinct lack of facts presented by either side in the campus carry discussion. First, how many or what percent of enrolled college students are age 21 and above? Second, how many enrolled college students currently have a Georgia weapons carry license? Third, how many of these license holders reside in campus housing and may be affected by the restrictions in HB 859? Fourth, how many non-student adults visit a college campus each month for meetings, seminars or alumni activities? Fifth, how many legal, licensed adults have been involved in an illegal act with a firearm in Georgia in the past year? And last, how many illegal firearms have been found/confiscated on Georgia college campuses despite the current “gun-free zones”? Until we can share facts we have no basis for the shouting and threats by the opponents of campus carry. All the current noise is just speculation and fear-mongering. – George T. Daughtry
I attended the Senate hearing on campus carry. The room was packed with college students, college professors and administrators, and concerned parents who opposed the bill. Forty people signed up to speak to the Senate committee. It wasn’t even remotely close, and nobody in the room could have missed that. Polls attest to the fact that the vast majority of the citizens of Georgia oppose firearms on Georgia campuses. I am one of those citizens. I think it is likely that guns on campuses will contribute to injuries and deaths, and they will cost the state millions of tax dollars that we do not have. Yet our “representatives” voted to force our universities to accept guns on campuses. It is astonishing to me. – Donna Draughon
This is what you can expect when dogmatic thinking rather than common sense drives decisions. There are so many other, better alternatives to campus safety than this – prohibiting firearms on campus, promoting pepper spray and stun guns, etc. Which is why one can only conclude that campus safety is not the point. Is it a good idea for colleges? The colleges say no, but that argument falls on deaf ears. Why not hang an “accountability placard” on a wall at the state Capitol – with the names of the bill’s authors engraved at the top of the placard and plenty of space left below to record the names of students who die on Georgia campuses as a result of campus carry? – Tom McGuire
Carry permits for folks on campus are a real potential danger. I would like to see a factual business case for the justification. Instead, we are presented with words that cannot be defended but do generate emotion. Who knows what would have happened in Oregon or at Georgia State if guns were permitted on campus? Who is to say that the folks involved would be the ones carrying? I agree that alcohol and young emotions plus guns equal an unsafe environment. If this concept is good for campus, then gun carrying should be just fine for any political building including airports and the state Capitol. – Ron Palmich
HB 859 is a bad idea. It alters the learning environment for the worse. Virtually no administrator or professor wants it. If the urban Atlanta campuses of Georgia Tech and Georgia State University are having issues with robberies, then increase security on those campuses; don’t impose something statewide that most Georgians (78 percent) and all college administrations (100 percent) don’t want. It’s shocking that lawmakers have appropriated no funding for this bill. I cannot believe that liability insurers are going to allow an increase in guns on campus, by people who have had to pass no training requirements and don’t have to show permits, without increasing premiums or pulling coverage altogether. – Anne Allen Westbrook
I have worked on a university campus for 30 years. Allowing guns on campus will prevent universities from providing a safe learning environment; it will hurt our ability to recruit top students from all over the U.S. and the world to our Georgia schools; and it will fundamentally change the relationship between faculty and students. The worst part of this is that our so-called “representatives” have failed to take the advice of educators, psychologists and the Board of Regents and have ignored the opinion of the 78 percent of their constituents who are against campus carry. They are serving their own special interests and personal agendas by voting for this bill, and are willing to endanger the lives of our students to do so. I hold those who voted in favor of this responsible for the additional suicides, accidents, confrontations, injuries and deaths that are sure to occur due to mixing guns into the already challenging and stressful campus environment. – Wanda Cool
I am so shocked that given the published statistics of your readership on this issue and the fact that not one of the public universities in Georgia supports campus carry, that our elected officials would pass such a dangerous bill. I am urging everyone to please let Governor Deal know that we do not need armed students at a university. It undermines the very values of why the university is so important: to allow for safe and lively discourse about sensitive topics without fear of being shot by a fellow classmate. Plus the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down the ability for police and faculty to ask to see a student’s gun permit is downright dangerous. Please, AJC, give this topic the attention it deserves. People do not understand that the universities will be forced by the state to allow campus carry. Call, email and do whatever you have to do to let Governor Deal know that Georgians do not want this bill! – Elizabeth Maier
I had always believed elected officials had a mandate to represent their constituents. “Campus carry” was passed despite surveys that said more than 70 percent of the general public was against it. In addition, most of the people who work on university campuses were passionately against it. They considered that based on their personal experiences with working with young adults, guns in the hands of students would increase the risk of suicide (the No. 3 cause of teen death in the U.S.) and the danger to other students, faculty and security forces. They also objected to the exorbitant costs of enhancing security in this situation that has already occurred in states that have passed campus carry (i.e., Texas). Statistics reflect that most gun deaths occur in homes, and gun-free campuses have been one of the safest places to be in the U.S. However, politicians have also passed a bill forbidding organizations such as the CDC to publish statistics about gun safety and gun deaths. I guess Second Amendment rights trump First Amendment rights. I like to make decisions based on facts; and I guess they were concerned that the facts would be against their best financial interests. In passing campus carry, Georgia politicians have acted against the best interests of their constituents, their youth, and their higher education system. I have always been indolent about politics, but now those fools have finally made me angry enough to act. I want the names of everyone who voted for that bill, and will be prepared to vote for anyone who opposes them. I want politicians to represent their voters rather the organization that pays them the biggest bribe. – Rebecca Loomis
My 18-year-old son is a freshman living on campus in Georgia. In discussions, he and I disagree on campus carry. He’s for it. I’m not. He says it gives students a chance to defend themselves. I say that in an “attack” scenario, in the seconds it would take to defend against a shooter going wild on campus, most concealed carriers would not react in time, nor would their defensive shots be accurate. They’d be as likely to injure or kill a bystander as hit the crazed gunman. My son says it’s better than doing nothing. I’m not so sure. There are of course more issues here. Where are the guns stored at the end of the class day? In students’ cars? And what of those students who don’t have a car on campus – where will they store their guns? (Take a guess!) And what will campus police do upon running to the scene of an active shooter? How will they know the good gal from the bad gal? (Let’s not assume all crazed gunners will be male.) Lastly, let’s THINK about that 21 year old who’s in college, in his or her senior year, likely under some pressure to complete his required credit load. What happens when he gets a failing grade from a professor who has (in his opinion) treated him unfairly/unsympathetically? Most can handle this maturely and reasonably. Some cannot. In that or similar scenarios, should this fired-up student be carrying a concealed weapon for “protection”? I’m not sure that’s the right legislative move, today or ever. And before it’s brought to discussion, I realize that anyone, even those without a concealed weapon permit, could be on campus creating the same mayhem. The question is, do we want to increase or decrease the odds of this event taking place? To me, less guns seems like better odds. – Joseph Saurini
This is a bad idea. When most university and college leaders in our state oppose this bill, and when around 65 percent of people polled on the bill disapprove of the idea, it passes to the governor’s desk. It appears our elected officials think they need a strong bill on the docket every year. I wonder who telling them it is needed? If the governor signs this bill, campus security just got extremely complicated. My biggest concerns among the many I have are these: How does campus security tell the difference between the good kid with a gun and a bad kid with a gun? Make no mistake, these are kids. If an active shooter is running around a campus with guns drawn and six students pull their guns and start running around, how can you tell who the bad kid is? Will the good kids start shooting at other good kids? Will campus security start shooting at the good kids because they are shooting at each other? What happens when a drunk kid with a gun gets mad at another student for talking to his girlfriend at a keg party? Back in the good old days, a few punches would get thrown, and that would have been the end of it. What about students who currently live off campus and did not own guns because they could not take them on campus? Will they now buy a gun because they can? If so, there would be even more guns on campus. I am not totally sure if we ever hear of any issues because of this insanely risky bill. My concern is that if we do, the news will be horribly worse than what it should have been had the bill never existed. – David Ford
Of course campus carry is a horrible idea. And sadly this could play out with tragic results. Increases in suicides and accidents are the most likely result. According to a Harvard study (www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/guns-and-suicide/ ) suicides account for more than twice as many deaths as homicides. So, the challenge for our colleges now is to educate kids prior to setting foot on campus about the dangers of guns. That education should include information about safe storage of weapons and ammunition and proper use. But most importantly, that education should focus on the dangers of having a gun in a college setting. Another Harvard study concluded that where there are more guns, there are more deaths. College students, with the help of administrators, may be able to change the culture on campus. If the students make it socially unacceptable to “carry,” maybe fewer people who might otherwise be interested in guns would bring them to school. More college students will die because of this legislation. There is something very rotten in our state Legislature. I’d like to see our Legislature fund a study of campus gun violence. Maybe UGA could do a study of gun violence. How appropriate. – Don McAdam
Only Governor Deal can stop our quick slide to “laughingstock” status. He must veto this product of a Legislature that seems unable to deal with real issues (education, Medicare, etc.) that require a level of intellectual acumen they either don’t have or won’t use. When we became a Southern family 40 years ago, we found the local and state governments run by Lester Maddox lookalikes. Over the years, we saw much improvement and could be proud of our home state. But this Legislature is bent on blasting us back to the ax handle era. One only has to look at the AJC photo of two of our finest legislators bursting their suit seams as they energetically voted “yea” for the bill. They felt this was their shining moment. Please, governor, save us from our darker side. – Bill Jones
David Ibata for the AJC