Site of a proposed 25-yard path that would link this driveway at the end of Exeter Road in Avondale Estates, with the Forrest Boulevard/Craigie Avenue curve in unincorporated DeKalb, on the other side of these trees. One problem with this site is that the driveway slopes into an ancient drainage ditch (center of photo, hidden by foliage) that constantly floods and appears potentially dangerous for children. Bill Banks for the AJC

Proposed Avondale Estates cut-through dies without a whimper

During an August 23 work session Avondale Estates’ commission quietly decided against pursuing a short pedestrian/cyclist cut through, proposed in late June by the non-profit East Decatur Greenway.

The roughly 25-yard path would’ve linked Exeter Road, in southern Avondale Estates, with the Forrest Boulevard/Craigie Avenue curve in unincorporated DeKalb, near the Museum School. Exeter and Forrest/Craigie have been separated by a fence and gate, proably since the early 1950s.

What neither East Decatur Greenway, nor city commissioners were prepared for was an explosion of public comment during a July 19 work session. In a show of hands that night, only five of about 50 residents favored the path, and those against competed for who could out-shout the other.

One resident complained about the number of “outsiders” such a path would attract, along with security problems, crime and lack of police protection. While being gently escorted from City Hall by Police Chief Lynn Thomas the man concluded, “If we lost one child or have one daughter raped, that’s one too many!” (Thomas said later the man was leaving on his own volition).

Whether or not a cut through would attract crime, there are legitimate issues with the site according to nearby homeowners. There’s an ancient pipe that floods during any heavy rain. Also Fairfield Drive and Exeter Road end after a long downhill, and speeding cyclists have long been a problem they say. Additionally, the site of the proposed path has been the sole parking area for homeowners on either side for decades.

In July commissioners favored the path by a 3-2 straw vote, but by Wednesday night that had changed.

“We feel [the cut through] is not the right thing at this time,” said Mayor Jonathan Elmore said.

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