As a Georgia State student, Marlina McKay joined Park Pride in 2005 part time doing data entry, but she was soon brought on full time to help with our ever expanding tech and data needs. Although Marlina’s official title is Manager of IT, she’s a lot more than that. From assisting Friends groups with tech problems, pitching in with whatever is needed, providing an impromptu violin serenade or just making us smile with corny jokes and puns, Marlina brightens our days.
Registered landscape architect, Walt Ray, has made quite a mark in his 10 years with Park Pride. He created the “Park Visioning” Program to help communities develop shared visions for their parks. Already over $14 million has been invested in the 31 vision plans created to date. Walt’s passion for communities and belief that anything is possible inspires people, and he has a real talent for facilitating compromise. He enjoys mentoring and has developed a highly successful landscape architect intern program providing real world experience. To get a sense of Walt’s impact, go anywhere in Atlanta with him – inevitably you will encounter people he has worked with who will greet him like a long lost friend.
When asked why they’ve remained at Park Pride for a decade, Marlina exclaimed, “I love helping people and parks!” And after a moment of reflection, Walt responded, “For the human connections I make. The more I get to know different people, their concerns and goals, the more I understand myself.”
Park Pride is lucky to have you both!
Recently, residents of Summerhill in southeast Atlanta found themselves at a critical juncture in their neighborhood’s development. Nearby Turner Field is facing redevelopment; Atlanta Public Schools is planning a renovation that includes the conversion of an existing greenspace into a parking lot; and the City of Atlanta is looking at installing underground vaults to store combined sewage beneath local greenspace. The community is very concerned about the impact of these projects on their local parks and is determined to have a voice in the plans.
Friends of Summerhill Parks’ leader, Bryan Adams, explained how the group hopes that Park Pride’s Park Visioning process will bring the community together to create a master plan for the neighborhood parks which would inform the multiple planning efforts underway in the neighborhood. “Our overarching goal,” Adams said, “is to have a vibrant, cohesive community, to become a destination for families, businesses, and retail, and to have fun and active parks for all residents of Summerhill and the surrounding neighborhoods!”
Park Pride’s Visioning team, Walt Ray and Becky Katz, are excited for the opportunity to help give the residents of Summerhill a voice in the future of their community. They kicked-off the Summerhill Park Visioning with a public meeting and design workshop and are actively coordinating with the numerous parties involved in the development efforts in the neighborhood.
For more information about Park Pride’s Visioning Program, visit http://www.parkpride.org/get-involved/community-programs/park-visioning.
A message from Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki:
Atlanta’s City Council Budget Briefing on parks a few weeks back was called to order with these words: “Next up, we have Parks and Recreation, the only department that has its own cheering section. Thanks for being here, Park Pride.” A cluster of attendees wearing “I Heart Parks” shirts leaned forward and perked up their ears.
It is an exciting time to be paying attention to parks and greenspace in the City of Atlanta. Last year, we saw an increase of $1 million (FY 2015) in the City of Atlanta’s budget for park operations and maintenance – the first increase we’d seen since the recession.
As we engage in the days leading up to the approval of the FY 2016 budget, we appear to be looking at another incremental increase in the budget for this year. This is an encouraging trend. The questions is whether the incremental increase is proportional to the increasing expectations. For parks to live up to their full potential as catalysts in our communities, we need to move beyond an incremental approach. To get there, we need your help.
Atlanta City Council is holding a vote for the 2016 budget on Wednesday, June 24th at 3pm. Join us in the cheering section for parks at Atlanta City Hall (55 Trinity Ave SW Atlanta, GA 30303), and be sure to wear your green!