The Impact of urban greenways on residential concerns: Findings from the Atlanta BeltLine Trail
Urban greenways are receiving increased attention due to the implications they have for the sustainable development of 21st century cities. Although preferences of greenway users have been heavily investigated, research on residents’ perceptions of living in close proximity to these greenways pales in comparison. With this gap in mind, residents living within two socio-economically different neighborhoods adjacent to the Atlanta BeltLine Trail were surveyed about common neighborhood concerns and how the BeltLine’s development alleviates or exacerbates these concerns. By simultaneously asking residents about both neighborhood concerns and the BeltLine’s impact on these concerns, modified Importance-Performance (IPA) graphs were created with four quadrants depicting where the BeltLine is successful and areas where it has aggravated problems. From the 381 responses received, the top five most important neighborhood concerns were crime, property taxes, vandalism, property values, and places for outdoor recreation. The BeltLine was perceived by residents to be improving property values, places for outdoor recreation, and social spaces for gathering, while slightly increasing litter, crime, vandalism, and property taxes. This can be seen on the graphs where most of negatively connoted concerns fell in the “Concentrate here” quadrant with the positively connoted concerns falling in the “Keep up the good work” quadrant. T-test results revealed that the affluent Northside neighborhood viewed the impacts of the trail as more positive than the transitioning Southwest neighborhood. Results suggest that greenway planners should tailor greenway development projects towards individual neighborhoods as they are likely to have different concerns and expectations of urban greenways.