Importance of Parks

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

Ribbon Cutting at Adams Park’s “Splash Island”

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Welcome to “Splash Island!”

On Tuesday June 21, 2016, City of Atlanta, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Park Pride cut the ribbon on the brand new splash pad at Adams Park (Southwest Atlanta). “Splash Island” is situated conveniently next to the Adams Park pool, and includes water blasters, spray tunnels, and a bucket that periodically pours water over the area.

The children of Camp Best Friends filled the audience and were the first to play in the splash pad after the ribbon cutting.

Highlights of the ribbon cutting are quoted below.


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“Atlanta is having a busy year with our parks. It seems like every other week we are cutting the ribbon on a new greenspace or a major enhancement like this new splash pad.”

“… we have an obligation to make sure that you all have what we had when we were growing up. And not only to make sure that you have what we had, but to make sure that what you all have is actually better than what we had. So today I am pleased to say that Adams Park right now is better than the Adams Park when I was growing up, and that’s what being Mayor of the City of Atlanta is all about. I love you guys, you all are 100% of the future. Everything we do in the City of Atlanta is really all about making sure that you have a fair shot and a fair shake in life.”

-Mayor Kasim Reed

 

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“This park is so very near and dear to me. I learned to swim right here in Adams Park. My dad use to coach baseball here. Whenever I come into this park I think of my dad… I asked my mom to bring [my kids] here today because I want them to have the same memories that I have of Adams Park.”

“And so I am so please that we have partners like Park Pride, and Carnival, and people like Amy Phuong and her staff who really pour their all into making sure that every corner of this city is taken care of.”

“What we expect is that when you grow up, and you get a little older like me, that you’ll stand here and you’ll do this for someone else.”

-Council Member Keisha Lance Bottoms

 

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“I can’t wait to see the enjoyment you all are going to get out of this [splash pad].

“We’re happy to be here to give fun back to the community.”

-Mike Pack, Carnival Cruise Director

 

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“I wanted to just mention when I got here and had a moment to speak with Domonique, he was talking about his experiences with parks and recreation making him who he is today, and then we heard just a moment ago from Mayor Kasim Reed the role of parks in his upbringing and his early days. That’s what we at Park Pride call the ‘power of parks’… it’s because of places like this that all of you can be an NBA super star or the next Mayor of Atlanta.

The other reason that we’re here today is to celebrate the power of partnerships, and partnerships are what Park Pride is all about. We bring the community, the City, and funders together, and in doing so we maximize the potential of what’s possible for City of Atlanta parks. The Adams Park pool and splash pad are perfect examples of how this plays out… By leveraging the power of partnerships we took something that could have been good, and we made it great.

-Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride

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Meet Natasha Burr: Park Pride’s New Park Visioning Intern!

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Natasha Burr will soon graduate with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and certificate in Environmental Ethics from The University of Georgia. She is a LEED Green Associate and drafts maps for the Cultural Landscape Lab. She is a radio host on WUOG, the college radio station, and spends her free time throwing pottery on a wheel, hiking, and visiting museums.

“What’s so great about Park Pride, and what I’m looking forward to the most, is having the opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than myself that impacts the human experience and generally improves people’s lifestyle and well-being.” Natasha Burr, Park Visioning Intern

As the Park Visioning Intern, Natasha will assist communities in re-imagining their parks, overcome design challenges, and enhance the capacity of Park Pride’s Visioning team!

Learn more about Natasha through our interview below.


Why are parks important?

Great parks improve how people live, relax, and experience a place. They become a central location for some community members to meet and interact, and a place of solace from the rest of the world to others. Great parks are aesthetically pleasing spaces that provide people with the ability to immerse themselves in the natural world while simultaneously staying in the city.

Park Pride’s mission is “to engage communities to activate the power of parks.” In what ways are parks “powerful?”

Parks are “powerful” because they provide people with a place to get in touch with nature when they ordinarily wouldn’t have the ability to do so. This interaction gives people a sense of harmony with both nature and among other humans because they connect with a common appreciation for parks.

Parks are also fundamental to a child’s development as how they play in a park is bound only by the constraints of their imagination – and general park rules, of course 🙂

Why is it important for communities to have a voice in their parks?

Since parks are for the people, the people deserve to have their say in what happens to their parks. Park spaces are dynamic and attract different members of the community depending on what they enjoy doing at the park – it’s important that all of their voices are heard.

What are you looking forward to the most about your position as Park Visioning Intern?

What’s so great about Park Pride, and what I’m looking forward to the most, is having the opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than myself that impacts the human experience and generally improves people’s lifestyle and well-being.

I also can’t wait to get more involved with community engagement. It’s refreshing to listen to other people’s perspectives of what makes a park successful and what they most enjoy about public greenspaces.

What’s your favorite local park?

My favorite local park is Historic Old Fourth Ward Park. Not only for its innovation in sustainable storm water infrastructure, but also because of the elegant juxtaposition of a rich natural environment in the middle of an urban space. I love walking to it from the Atlanta BeltLine and some of my fondest memories include stopping over at the park with friends before watching bands play at the Masquerade.

What’s your favorite park activity?

I love playing disc golf in parks. It’s a great way to explore the woodlands and find a nice place to watch the natural scenery. On a whim, I once drove 260 miles to a destination disc golf course in the center of the Smoky Mountains!

Georgia Legacy Legislation Up for Vote This Year

Georgia Legacy is an initiative supported by a coalition of conservation organizations, including Park Pride, that focuses on preserving our state’s economy and quality of life. 

How?  By creating a new funding source for the acquisition and stewardship of lands critical to water supply, wildlife and outdoor recreation. If approved by the General Assembly this year, voters would have the opportunity to approve Georgia Legacy in a referendum this fall. 

Georgia Legacy would dedicate a portion of the existing state sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment for conservation purposes. Without raising or creating a new tax, it is estimated that as much as $40 million every year would be made available for conservation, including the acquisition and improvement of local parks and trails in Atlanta and throughout the state.

The next step for Georgia Legacy is the passage of House Bill 693 and House Resolution 907 by the Georgia General Assembly.   If passed by the legislature and then approved by the voters in November 2016, local cities and counties would be able to submit proposals for loans or grants beginning next year. 

Other coalition partners include The Conservation Fund, the Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and The Trust for Public Land. 

For more information about Georgia Legacy, visit www.galegacy.org.