Meanwhile, at the BeltLine's Mile Zero Marker
Skateboarders got a place to call their own with the dedication last week of a park in the Old Fourth Ward. But boarders, among others, have been getting use of BeltLine facilities elsewhere for some time--and sometimes leaving their mark behind them.
The inauguration of Atlanta's new skate park in the Old Fourth Ward on June 11 sparked curiosity about the kinds of use other stretches of the BeltLine are experiencing.
Skateboarders, after all, have long been users of the plaza at the Mile Zero marker, where Lawton Street passes over White Street.
The hilly path from the BeltLine's point of origin down to White Street might seem a natural attractor for the speedy followers of pro boarder Tony Hawk (who was present for last week's park dedication). Instead, these young men devote their attention to the rounded edges of walls and benches on the Lawton Street street side of the marker.
The fact that anyone makes use of the path and its surroundings is progress, however. Since the path's installation, walkers or bikers along this stretch have remained scarce, and its relative desertedness allows abuses somewhat worse than the minor wear skateboards have inflicted.
Yvonne Rome, who was pushing a stroller there early Friday morning, said that she likes the path but finds it lonely enough during her jaunts that she carries a weapon for her protection. An area resident who chose not to give his name said that a robbery had taken place recently near the marker, but this claim could not be verified.
Whether violence or potential violence is in fact occuring in the vicinity of the Mile Zero marker does not alter the sorts of preparations some path users take. One member of a couple encountered along the path in 2010 carried a golf club. Asked whether he was headed to the golf course or worried about pit bulls, the man replied, "Pit bulls."
Less dire but no less damaging activities are certainly in evidence: a stray graffito here, a vandalized sapling there. On a somewhat more upbeat note, though, what appeared initially to be intentional damage to West End Remembers, artist Malaika Favorite's 2009 mural beneath the Lawton Street overpass, seems likelier to be the result of aging concrete.
The best news in the aftermath of that damage was that some path user cared enough not merely to clear the jagged fragments from the bike lane but also to pile them near the section of wall from which they fell.
Atlantans without bikes who are interested in cycling might want to visit the SOPO Bicycle Cooperative online: http://www.sopobikes.org/