The Power of Parks on Atlanta’s Westside

A MESSAGE FROM PARK PRIDE’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MICHAEL HALICKI

The creation of new parks and the improvement of existing parks are major parts of the narrative that is emerging in the Proctor Creek Watershed on Atlanta’s Westside and central to the plans for its revitalization.

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Michael Halicki addresses attendees to the Vine City Park expansion ribbon cutting ceremony, May 19, 2016

Park Pride is a major part of this narrative, as is The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Westside Future Fund and partners that include The Conservation Fund, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Community Improvement Association, Greening Youth Foundation, ECO-Action, the Atlanta University Center and Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. So too are the related efforts of The Trust for Public Land, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Emerald Corridor Foundation, and many other nonprofits and community organizations including the Friends of Maddie Freeland Greenspace, the Friends of Maddox Park and the Historic Washington Park Conservancy.

These groups all believe in the power of parks to reinvigorate a community.

POWER OF PARKS: Great parks have the power to increase our quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our cities. They are places for members of the community to gather, play, relax, and lose themselves in nature, encouraging mental and physical health. Great parks promote community engagement, safety, and revitalization. They spur economic development and benefit tourism. Great parks make our citizens happy, our communities strong, and our cities sustainable.

The City of Atlanta is also a major force for change in Proctor Creek, with support provided by the Atlanta Parks Department, Invest Atlanta, Watershed Management, the Office of Sustainability, Atlanta BeltLine Inc., members of Atlanta City Council and, of course, Mayor Kasim Reed. Most importantly, individual community residents are engaging in public forums, visioning planning efforts, and Friends of the Park groups to ensure that the community’s voice factors into revitalization efforts.

For its part, Park Pride has played a significant role in ensuring that both parks and the community’s wishes are represented in the planning efforts. In 2005, Vine City residents participated in our Park Visioning Program to develop a conceptual plan for Vine City Park, which opened in 2007.

In 2010, Park Pride and partners worked with the community to create the Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision (PNA Vision) to address stormwater issues and lack of greenspace in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods.

In 2015, Park Pride supported The Conservation Fund’s efforts to create Lindsay Street Park: the first park in English Avenue and of the PNA Vision. The community-driven process behind Lindsay Street Park was recently recognized with EPA’s Rain Catcher Award.

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Ribbon cutting at Lindsay Street Park, 2015

This year, we returned to Vine City Park, completing an expansion that includes a larger playground, an exercise station and a rain garden. The Greening Youth Foundation played a workforce development role that included local youth in the construction of these parks.

Now, efforts are underway to create a vision for the latest park that is a part of PNA Vision: Boone Park West. While these conversations are emerging, we remain steadfast to the greenspace vision for Atlanta’s Westside, optimistic that the community will continue to be at the center of the discussion, and hopeful to fully harness the power of parks for the betterment of these neighborhoods and all of Atlanta.

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Final Vision for Boone Park West will be completed after a comprehensive community engagement process, led by Park Pride with support from The Conservation Fund.

For more information regarding the park referred to as Boone Park West, read the recent news coverage:

English Avenue’s Boone Park West won’t be just another pretty greenspace – Creative Loafing

Park Officials Say New Greenspace will be Catalyst for Westside Changes – Curbed Atlanta

Blighted urban lots to become new Atlanta park – AJC