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Columnist: Atlanta Beltine's struggles don’t mean things have derailed... Yet

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One of the project’s most longstanding champions suggests Atlanta must work harder on its signature project

The Atlanta Beltline has been recognized the world over as one of the most impressive urban renewal initiatives undertaken by any city.

Lately, however, things seem to have gotten a bit off track with the project. There was that nasty years-long dispute with Atlanta Public Schools, the ever-lamented and chronically slow speed of construction, persistent cries of price-gouging near the Beltline, and more recent neighborhood resentment regarding the tunnel at DeKalb Avenue.

In order to really turn things around, the city may need to refocus on the initial reasons behind the Beltline. Or so says Cathy Woolard — a former Atlanta City Council President and current mayoral candidate — in a recent Saporta Report piece.

Woolard is intimately familiar with the project, having been one of the first supporters of the Beltline more than 15 years ago.

The concerns she expresses include affordable housing, traffic planing, preservation of existing trees, and the role — sometimes negative — developers are having on the project and nearby land.

She cites the fences, parking decks, and private pools that face the Beltline trail as a major detriment to its ultimate success, and encourages the community and city to hold developers to high standards. Here's a sample:

By returning to the roots of the project, as Woolard argues, through community involvement and City Hall oversight, the Beltline can live up to the lofty expectations that have been established. With less than 20 percent of the trail system (and 0 percent of the mass-transit component) completed thus far, there's still the chance for the project to have the impact that was originally envisioned.