This is one of my “let’s talk extremely local” posts, but I say that this scenario can take place in any U.S. metro area as we all move forward with the economy and struggle with growing pains. The thing to remember is that there's nothing wrong with growth that will improve the lives of citizens no matter where one lives in America. That concept rings true in Peachtree Corners, Georgia. The problems come in when governments engage in 'dumb growth.' No, I'm not accusing Peachtree Corners of abandoning 'common sense' and engaging in 'dumb growth' although there are plenty over here who would like employ that accusation. I'll leave that up to them. Overall, the Atlanta metro area is no stranger to 'dumb growth.' With years of excellent economic expansion came a lot of development that hurt rather than help its citizens' quality of life.
One need not look further than some of the thoroughfares that run through Atlanta. To me, those thoroughfares are pedestrian-unfriendly for the most part, poorly designed and promote traffic gridlock. They are impersonal roads that were originally intended to help quickly move the public from Point A to Point B, but with so many people moving to the area over the past 30 years, these roads outlived their original intent. Certainly 'Band-Aids' have been installed within these corridors including lane expansion or more on/off ramps, but they do little to help prevent gridlock. And please do not get started on I-85 northbound in Gwinnett County. I couldn't make this one up, but between 3-7p, drivers can use the road's shoulders. Good luck if you break down on that stretch of I-85.
Aside from roads, traditional and strip malls have also become a problem for metro Atlanta. Traditional malls have been 'dying on the vine' for years and strip malls have always been logistical and aesthetic nightmares since their inceptions. This is just my view. I realize that malls of any type are convenient, but to me, there are good and a bad ways to design them. A an example of an aesthetically-pleasing design is an open-air shopping mall design. They're all over the country. In my area, there is an open mall design called The Forum on Peachtree Parkway. Thousands love to flock to 'The Forum' which is kind of takes one away from life's madness, but the only stressful part about going there is the car-centric nature of The Forum. Again to me, there are far too many Suburban Assault Vehicles that travel through The Forum's parking lot. It would be nice if there was a parking garage in one part of the complex where vehicles could be out of The Forum's 'mix.' Wouldn't it be nice to walk to Barnes and Noble without a Hummer coming at you? I'm just saying.
Speaking of finding an oasis from madness, in our neck of the woods in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, there is a patch of many acres of pristine wilderness known as the Simpsonwood Park. For those ‘not in the know,’ this heavily wooded property once run by the United Methodist Church for several years, became a ‘passive park’ run by the county. In this case, Simpsonwood is under the management of Gwinnett County, Georgia.
So just what is a ‘passive park?’ The term ‘passive park’ means little-to no-development. After the Methodist church folks pulled up stakes, their buildings on the property were demolished thus returning Simpsonwood back to nature. Well, the land was returned back to nature as humanly possible since there is already an asphalt road leading into the property.
At the moment, the park features a few amenities including a chapel, pavilion, volleyball court, restrooms, grills, restrooms and a three mile surface trail. I was recently informed through my Nextdoor Neighbor mobile application that there are plans to add to these amenities with the installation of asphalt paths throughout the property. If that happens, of course, it will be quite sad in my view.
Only speaking for myself, I love walking and running on trails in the area, but Simpsonwood is different. The property was meant to be untouched by the ravages of development. Simpsonwood is one of the rare places in the metro Atlanta area where one can escape the riff raff of life.
With all of that said, it’s not surprising that developers would love to get their hands on this prime piece of real estate. It’s located within a good neighborhood and on the Chattahoochee River. Who wouldn’t wish to build houses, apartments, townhouses and/or condominiums on this land?
One may argue that development and construction promote job growth from the moment the structures are built through their years of operation. There's nothing wrong with building businesses to expand the tax base, create jobs and innovation, but there's got to be a balance. In my view, is it possible to just let Simpsonwood be a natural, passive park?
Now, to get really local and somewhat dated, I will post what the folks who wish to save this property from development posted. Of course please pass along:
1. Come (and bring a friend) to the Simpsonwood Steering Committee meeting, April 28 at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church (across from the park). Come no later than 6:15 so that committee members will see you as they enter. Bring a "Save Don't Pave Simpsonwood" sign or get one from us in the parking lot before the meeting. The public is not invited to speak at this event, but we can silently and effectively make our position known to committee members.
2. Come to the Save Simpsonwood Strategy meeting at the front of the Simpsonwood Great Meadow, Sunday, May 1, from 2 pm to 4 pm, rain or shine. (Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.) We will discuss our planned letter writing campaign, direct mail campaign, and brainstorm other strategies (T-shirts, yard signs, contacting commissioners, etc.).
3. Come to the June 30 Public Meeting at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church, 7 pm. Gwinnett County government representatives will be there to hear citizens' concerns and preferences. This is the time and place for all friends of Simpsonwood to stand up and be counted.
4. Contact county officials and let them know that you are opposed to the asphalt loop trail and other construction that would make Simpsonwood just another county park.
5. Read our website http://www.savesimpsonwood.com/ to become better informed about Simpsonwood's rare beauty and how it can easily be destroyed. Check back regularly for our blog and important updates.
Officials in county government will happily continue doing what they think is best for you unless you tell them otherwise.
David and Lynette Rosinger