Talk of the Town - East Lake April 25 2001

Neighborhood finds balance between preservation, new development

The sweet song of a wood thrush lured nature photographer Kathryn Kolb to the Atlanta neighborhood of East Lake. She had been renting in nearby Decatur for about 11 years, and decided it was time to buy something of her own. Standing in the back yard of the house she was about to make an offer on, she heard the unusual call of a migratory wood thrush, and decided the tree-filled neighborhood was just the place.

In addition to the wood thrush, Kolb regularly sees five species of woodpeckers and every type of songbird in her backyard retreat. To Kolb, the wildlife she sees in East Lake "are not typically seen in a city" and for her, this is "the whole reason why Atlanta is special."

Part of what attracts the bevy of wild creatures to Kolb's yard are the four-and-a-half acres of undeveloped woodlands just off Memorial Drive. She describes the area as a "fantastic old-growth forest with plenty of oaks and poplars." Kolb and a group of concerned East Lake residents would like to see the area turned into a nature preserve with trails for wandering through the woods.

The growing popularity of the trendy neighborhood, however, may be the woodlands' undoing. Due to what Kolb describes as an "old zoning error," the woodlands are slated for a high-density, multi-family development.

Finding the balance between preservation and new development is a challenge in East Lake, just as it is in so many newly popular intown neighborhoods. New homes co-mingle with many of the neighborhood's older bungalows and Tudor cottages. All of the homes are on small lots, but have an abundance of mature trees and shrubs.

Nancy Tao, who lives in a new home, says, "East Lake is a great combination of the old and new." She loves being surrounded by neighbors who have lived in their homes for a generation and others who arrived last week. For Tao, East Lake has done a "great job of preserving its history."??