Park trees, parking vie in Atlanta case

Posted: September 5, 2017 at 2:22 a.m.

ATLANTA — Atlanta’s Grant Park is full of historic trees, but many near the main road are marked with orange X’s.

Leigh Finlayson lives across the street from a row of trees on Boulevard Street, many of which are more than 50 years old, where a semi-underground three-story parking deck is planned.

He’s leading the campaign to save some of the 131 trees on the chopping block by calling for the city of Atlanta to build a smaller parking deck and move it farther inside the park.

Finlayson has filed a tree conservation appeal with the city to save some of the trees, WABE Radio reported .

“This is a late-life conversion, if you will,” said Finlayson, a criminal defense lawyer. “I was a Boy Scout as a kid, I spent a lot of time in the wilderness, but this was never my calling or mission until it just came to my front yard. Now it’s become a priority.”

Finlayson questions why the parking deck has to be so large.

“Why this deck has to be 1,000 spaces makes no sense,” he said. “I think there are good people that mean well here, but this is a no brainer. If it could be limited in a way, at least save the trees on Boulevard, I could probably stomach it better.”

The new Gateway Project is expected to have a “glass dine-in regional cuisine restaurant” with casual dining on the first level and fine dining on the top level “with balconies overlooking green roof elements,” WABE reported.

In addition to improvements at Zoo Atlanta, the total project is set at a maximum cost of $48 million.

Not everyone shares the same concern about losing trees in the neighborhood.

“Right now people are continually going around and around to find a parking spot,” neighborhood resident Norman Pawloski said. “When I look out my door, it’ll be greenspace. It’ll be a great improvement over what they have now.”