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Beltline pro & con

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Last week's Political Party talk show convinced me there still are a lot of questions about the Beltline.

Beltline advocates are proposing to convert an old 22-mile loop of railroad tracks around downtown into parks, a path and transit. It's been pushed hard by former City Council President Cathy Woolard and a lot of transit enthusiasts. Now the mayor and the Atlanta Development Authority have jumped on board.

As the show's host, I asked the audience at Dad's Garage how many supported the Beltline: huge applause and hoots and hollers. But panel member (and green developer) Charles Brewer raised some pretty good criticisms.

Brewer endorsed the parks and path but questioned whether the transit part made sense. He noted that the old rail right of way wouldn't necessarily take people where they need to get. Plus, it wouldn't do what transit ought to do in this city: bring human activity to the streets.

Woolard countered that the Beltline doesn't just aim to get folks around on existing transit routes; it'll steer development so that people, and not just developers, have a say in the city's future. She also said we have to go for this project now because, when you get down to it, the Beltline's the best idea that's gotten so far in the city in years.

We're all for more inner-city transit and parks, though we're still trying to decide whether we think the Beltline's the best route to that. But we also want to know your opinion. Let us know by commenting at www.whatarewefor.com.

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