Park Pride Updates

Teri Nye Joins Park Pride as Park Visioning Coordinator

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Teri Nye is the newest member of Park Pride’s Visioning team, holding a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia, a bachelor of science in biology with a concentration in botany, and a Georgia teaching certificate in secondary biology. Originally from Virginia, she began her career in landscape architecture in Sydney, Australia. Upon returning to the United States she made Atlanta her home. She designed parks and urban green spaces in the southeast, including in Houston, Memphis, Charlotte and in Atlanta, for three years before taking a position as a botanist at Fernbank Science Center. There, she honed her expertise in Georgia native plants and plant communities while working throughout DeKalb County in educational outreach.

“Having strong relationships—whether within our families or our friends or our communities—is one of our basic human needs. Parks provide a place for that to happen.” Teri Nye, Park Visioning Coordinator

She spent over ten years helping the public understand and enjoy many of DeKalb County’s parks including Davidson-Arabia Mountain and Stone Mountain, and Atlanta’s urban parks. Teri is also an experienced graphic designer, painter, and photographer; she is a member of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance and the Georgia Botanical Society and is a volunteer with Trees Atlanta.

Teri’s dynamic background is greatly going to increase the capacity of the Park Visioning team, and we’re thrilled to add her to the ranks!

Learn more about Teri through our interview below.

Why are parks important?

Parks nurture deeper connections to our local landscapes and to enable us to find shared connections based on the landscapes we identify as home. This is especially important in cities where much of what we experience outdoors is planned and managed. I believe everyone benefits from knowing their local ecosystem—which includes people!

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

The power of parks is that they catalyze clusters of people living near one another to become communities of neighbors. Parks are a community’s collective back yard, not just fulfilling individual needs, but also allowing neighbors to realize shared interests and commonalities. Having strong relationships—whether within our families or our friends or our communities—is one of our basic human needs. Parks provide a place for that to happen.

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

It’s essential that local residents—the very people that will use the parks—play a lead role in the management and planning of their parks. Parks must serve the needs of the community or they simply don’t function. The only way to make this happen is via the advice of people who will be, and have been, living and playing there.

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

There are so many exciting things going on throughout Atlanta right now! I’m super excited to be part of creating more livable, safe communities through parks.

What’s your favorite local park?

That’s a tough one. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where the surrounding countryside, the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway were my local parks. I like to roam! Here in Atlanta my favorite ‘park’ is under construction at the moment—that’s the extension of the Eastside Trail of the Beltline Arboretum. The old train tracks have been an impromptu park for Reynoldstown ever since I’ve lived there. It’s also a great place to spot my favorite butterfly, the Buckeye!

What’s your favorite park activity?

Bird watching and exploring. I love just walking around looking at birds, insects and plants, probably with either my binoculars or my camera, or both. It’s inspiring and relaxing at the same time, plus I get some exercise. We also have some great neighborhood parties in Reynoldstown’s Lang-Carson Park.

Park Pride Proclamation from City Council

On Tuesday, July 5th, Park Pride and The Conservation Fund were presented a proclamation by Atlanta City Council for our commitment to community engagement and partnership for the betterment of communities in Atlanta’s Westside.

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We’re thrilled to be recognized by Council Member Ivory Lee Young and the rest of Atlanta City Council. We look forward to future collaborations with the City, The Conservation Fund and all of the other community and nonprofit partners involved in revitalizing the Westside through green infrastructure and parks!

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Council Member Ivory Lee Young presents the Proclamation to Park Pride and The Conservation Fund.

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Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki

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Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund’s Assistant Regional Counsel & Real Estate Associate

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Atlanta City Council, the Community Improvement Association, The Conservation Fund, and Park Pride

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From left: Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director; Council Member Ivory Lee Young; Tony Torrence, Community Improvement Association; Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund; Shannon Lee, The Conservation Fund

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!

Park Pride’s 2016 Inspiration Awards

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Park Pride’s Inspiration Award Winners, honored at the Parks and Greenspace Conference on March 21, 2016

We know that great parks exist through the efforts of leaders who nurture and strengthen the bond between the parks and communities of which they are a part. Park Pride’s Annual Inspiration Awards honor these leaders:

Linda Bain

Bain 1Linda emerged as a champion of the Sandy Springs Conservancy in 2001 when she served as a founding board member and then later went on to serve as Executive Director until her retirement in 2015. Her collaborative attitude has forged a cadre of friends and volunteers for the Conservancy and has made Linda the go-to person for counsel on greenspace in Sandy Springs for the media, land and homeowners, elected officials, schools and civic groups, and more. She is a hands-on leader, a trustworthy partner and an influential park advocate.

 

Dave Butler

Dave portraitDave understands the benefits of natural greenspace and for years has been a tireless proponent of parks where nature is the playground. His ability to see beyond the conventional definition of “playing in a park” has enabled parks such as Constitution Lakes, Johns’ Homestead, and Clyde Shepard Nature Center to become integral parts of their communities. While Dave has retired from his position as DeKalb County’s Greenspace Environment Manager, he will continue to serve the environment and community with his enthusiastic participation in various park projects.

 

Pauline Drake

Pauline Drake.JPGJennie Drake Park is the jewel of Collier Heights thanks to the leadership of Pauline Drake. Pauline worked tirelessly for years to bring her mother’s dream for a park to fruition. Organizing brick sales and hosting workdays out of her childhood home, Pauline’s gumption transformed a collection of empty lots into a place where children now play in the creek and neighbors enjoy a quiet walk on a beautiful nature trail, creating a place where the community truly connects.

 

Cynthia Gentry

Me and sign in TurkishAtlanta’s local play expert is a defender of children’s right to play. After a terrible accident struck her neighborhood, Cynthia found her calling through her first project of raising funds for a memorial playground. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to researching play, encouraging play and playing with her grandkids. Cynthia is the Founding Director of Play Atlanta, a nonprofit that advocates for play, helps communities set a vision for a playful environment, advises developers on integrating play spaces throughout projects, educates about the importance of play, and much more.

 

Ronald Johnson

RonaldRonald is a proven master when it comes to positive park activation. From the park to schools, he brings play and good, clean family fun to a community that is often under served. He is an outspoken advocate for current and future parks in the Ellenwood Community. Creating a space where children can safely play and teens can engage in sports instead of getting into trouble motivated him to continue a family tradition of organizing the 19th Annual County Line / Ellenwood Roundup.

 

 

Karl Schultz

KarlAt Frazier-Rowe Park, Karl Schultz’s big idea is helping others achieve their big ideas. His magnetic, can-do attitude has made him an inspiration not just to his fellow Friends of the Park members, but to the community’s youth in particular. Karl has mentored four Eagle Scouts through the completion of projects in the park and motivated his daughter to build and install a “little free library” in the park as well. Karl is always the first to lend a hand during volunteer workdays, and in the case of the construction of the park’s new entrance arbor and playground, a strong arm too!

 

Esther Stokes

Stokes photo-1Esther is a firm believer that all Atlantans in all neighborhoods should have access to quality parks, and she has relentlessly pursued her mission to see this vision through to fruition. Her involvement in parks and greenspace spans 18 years, over which time she’s served on the board and as board chair of both Park Pride and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and the Atlanta Audubon Society.

 

Congratulations award winners, and thank you for all you do for parks, greenspace, and our community!

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This year’s Inspiration Awards were specially hand crafted and donated by local artists A.B. Lovell and Mark A. Wentz from Americoglass. Thank you!

From Vision to Reality: Lindsay Street Park

On October 21st, 2015, a crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of the very first park in the English Avenue neighborhood: Lindsay Street Park. Community members, Park Pride staff, Atlanta city government, representatives from numerous nonprofit organizations and foundation, and Mayor Kasim Reed turned out to witness this major milestone in the community’s revitalization.

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Mayor Reed cuts the ribbon at Lindsay Street Park with Michael Halicki (far left) and several city leaders and partners that made this park a reality!

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New playground at Lindsay Street Park

“It gives us hope that now kids have a safe place to play.”
Pat Cambell, English Avenue Resident

English Avenue and neighboring communities have long suffered from flooding due to stormwater runoff, often resulting in the overflow of combined sewer systems. In 2010, Park Pride established a coalition of organizations and community members to create a broad plan, known as the Proctor Creek North Avenue Watershed Basin Vision (PNA Study), that used greenspace and green infrastructure to address the persistent flooding. Since that time, The Conservation Fund has brought the plan to life: Lindsay Street Park is the first park conceived by the PNA Study to come to fruition through the Parks with Purpose Program. Lindsay Street Park represents what is possible when a multitude of partners work together towards positive change. Park Pride is proud to be one of more than 30 organizational partners in the effort that made this park a reality.

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Over 30 partners working in collaboration are responsible for bringing Lindsay Street Park to life!

To download the PNA Study completed by Park Pride in 2010, visit http://bit.ly/1RN1UUB. For more information about the Parks with Purpose Program and to see a list of the partners involved in the creation of Lindsay Street Park, visit www.conservationfund.org

2016: Activating the Power of Parks

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

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2016 is off to a strong start for Park Pride with many exciting developments expected in the coming year. In late January, the Board of Directors adopted a strategic plan that will guide the organization’s direction for the next three to five years.

When we kicked-off the strategic planning process in the spring of 2015, I entered with the assumption that Park Pride was already doing as much as we possibly could for our city’s parks, greenspaces and communities. But as the months progressed and we continued to carefully examine all of the different layers that make up Park Pride, I’m happy to say that my assumption was incorrect.

After careful thought and consideration, the strategic plan we’ve adopted will deepen our impact in parks and greenspace more than ever before in our 25 year history. We’ve stayed true to our core; we will continue to listen and respond to the needs of communities to advance wins for parks and greenspace. We’ve dug deep to pinpoint the most vital aspects of our work, and we will build on those, adding capacity to accomplish even more.

It begins with our new mission:
to engage communities to activate the power of parks.

It is our belief that great parks have the power to increase quality of life and strengthen the fabric of our city. Park Pride’s efforts in the years to come will focus on helping communities understand the importance of parks and access their many benefits.

Our new strategic plan defines the path by which Park Pride will progress toward our vision of “a nationally recognized network of locally inspired parks, greenspaces and trails that engages individuals, strengthens communities and transforms Atlanta.”

Park Pride’s board and staff are invigorated with the new energy that this plan brings, and we look forward to sharing this journey with you!

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Michael Halicki
Executive Director

Meet Andrew White: Park Pride’s New Director of Park Visioning

We’re thrilled to announce that registered landscape architect, Andrew White, has joined the Park Pride team as the Director of Park Visioning!

Andrew holds a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia and joins us with eight years of experience in designing greenspaces, big and small. His career has taken him from New York City, through Washington, D.C., and finally to his adopted home here in Atlanta.

For the last five years, he has worked on diverse projects in the Atlanta area for Pond and Company, a local architecture and engineering firm. We first got to know Andrew during that time through several projects that he worked on with Park Pride, and we couldn’t be happier that he will help us engage communities to activate the power of parks!

“I am motivated to play an active role in community outreach and public service,
and am committed to optimism, sustainability, and community empowerment through design.”
~Andrew White

As the Director of Park Visioning, Andrew will work with communities across the City of Atlanta to help them re-imagine their parks. He’ll guide Friends of the Park groups through “vision planning” where participants are encouraged to dream big and form consensus around the priority projects they have for the design (or re-design) of their park. At the conclusion of the process, the Friends group is provided with a tangible park master plan that serves both as a conceptual blueprint for future park development and as a valuable fundraising tool.

Andrew will attend Park Pride’s monthly Friends of the Park meeting on Wednesday, March 9th, 7:30am at Oakland Cemetery. We hope you can join us and welcome Andrew personally!

Learn more about Andrew through our short interview below.

Why are parks important?

Parks are critical in so many ways to the health and well-being of cities. They promote public health by providing places for exercise and active living. They help clean our air and water. They can stimulate economic investment in neighborhoods.  They activate children’s interests in science and nature by acting as hands-on interactive classrooms. They have intrinsic aesthetic value and improve the image of the city – the list goes on and on! I can think of no better way to improve quality of life than to build or improve a park.

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

The real power of parks lies in the communities that are behind them. Parks provide residents with a means of participating positively in their communities.  If communities can unite and organize around a common vision to improve their parks, then they can feel empowered to make other positive changes in their communities as well.

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

It is the community who will care for it and use it and nurture it!  As consultants, our role in the community is a temporary one. After we leave, and the construction crews are gone and the drawings are rolled up and filed away, if we haven’t succeeded in engaging the community, then we have a park that is isolated from the surrounding community. It is essential that the community have the leading voice in the creation and improvement of their own parks – otherwise you run the risk of creating dead spaces that become detrimental to their communities rather than beneficial.

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

Honestly, I love meeting people.  I think the most exciting thing about this job is the opportunity to meet folks from all over the city to talk about parks – which is one of my favorite subjects!

What’s your favorite local park?

My favorite park in Atlanta has to be Freedom Park – the Freedom Park Trail is a great place to walk my dog or ride my bike. It also is my connection to my favorite places to eat!

What’s your favorite park activity? 

For me, nothing beats spending some quality time with friends laying on the grass, playing catch, and people watching. There is something meditative and beautiful about taking a moment to stop and appreciate the present moment.


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.