Park Stories

Ribbon Cutting at Adams Park’s “Splash Island”


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.


“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



“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



“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



“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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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!

Lindsay Playground

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.


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 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

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.

The Birth of Jennie Drake Park

A Letter from Pauline Drake, Steering Committee Chair of Jennie Drake Park

Dear Park Supporter,

The Friends of Jennie Drake Park want to thank you for your contribution to Park Pride, a group whose support we’ve received since we formed a “Friends” group a few years ago. Since the beginning, their staff has done a great job in guiding us through several stages in developing the park.


Jennie Drake Before

Northwest Atlanta resident, Jennie Drake, organized her neighbors in an effort to conserve 4-acres of undeveloped land at Waterford Rd. By 2011, all parcels of land are acquired as a greenspace by the City of Atlanta.


Friends of Jennie Drake Park

The park is named in memory of Jennie Drake, and neighbors organize a Friends of the Park Group. They apply for and are selected by Park Pride to develop a vision for their park.

2012 – 2013

Public Meeting

Friends of Jennie Drake Park and other Collier Heights residents come together throughout the year to discuss their needs, dreams, and priorities for the park.


Waterford Road Looking East Toward Sign

After eight months and several public meetings facilitated by Park Pride, community consensus is reached, and the conceptual park master plan for Jennie Drake Park is finalized.

We went through the Visioning process. Later, we received financial support through two grants, a Small Change Grant and then a Community Building Grant in 2014.

Another benefit has been the association with other “Friends” groups at the annual Parks & Greenspace Conferences, PARC meetings and other events. No less important, we have benefited on three occasions from volunteer efforts coordinated by John Ahern, Park Pride’s Volunteer Manager.


Pops in Parks at Jennie Drake Park

Friends of Jennie Drake Park participate in Park Pride’s Pops in Parks event, bringing neighborhood families out to introduce them to the developing park with help from King of Pops.


Entrance and trailhead at Jennie Drake Park

The Friends of Jennie Drake Park install a seating and welcoming area in the park, supported by a Park Pride Community Building Grant and matched dollar-for-dollar by funds raised by the community through a brick sale.

Ribbon Cutting

The Friends group and the community celebrate the new park entrance with an official ribbon cutting ceremony.

Phoenix II PARC

Friends of Jennie Drake Park take advantage of all aspects of Park Pride programming. Members regularly attend monthly Parks Atlanta Rescue Coalition (PARC) meetings to learn from and network with park enthusiasts.

In the most recent workday coordinated by Park Pride on October 29th, more than 100 volunteers from a local company, plus team leaders from the Friends of Jennie Drake Park, turned out for a major development effort. The volunteers had eight projects and fewer than five hours to complete them! John did a superb job of coordinating all the parts. We are grateful to have benefited from his leadership, organizational skills, commitment and experience.

October 29, 2015

Jennie Drake Park Volunteer Day

Volunteers build and install park benches, a bridge that crosses the park’s creek, and a raised gravel path, in addition to completing a large-scale trash cleanup and invasive species removal, the creation of a new park entrance, and multiple other projects throughout the park.

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If we had not made the connection with Park Pride, I doubt that we would have accomplished as much as we have in the development of the Jennie Drake Park.

YOUR support of Park Pride helps groups like ours accomplish this much, motivating us to continue to achieve our vision and more.

The Friends of Jennie Drake Park

FOP group 2

Friends of Jennie Drake Park and Park Pride take a moment after the recent volunteer day to celebrate a job well done.


* * * * *

YOU Make Change Possible!

Your gift to Park Pride supports programs that bring positive change to communities.
Thank you!

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A Refreshing Change for Reverend James Orange Park

It’s Wednesday, July 8th, and you can’t find two smiles bigger in Oakland City (Southwest Atlanta) than those on the faces of Jernard Evans and Terry White. These teens, who live within blocks of Reverend James Orange Park and are involved in the recreation center’s teen program, are psyched about the changes they’ve seen take place at the park thanks to the major renovations that have recently been completed.


Jernard Evans (left) and Terry White (right) at the brand new playground at Reverend James Orange Park, July 2015.

For years, the Reverend James Orange Park (then Oakland City Park) pool sat empty and unused behind a chain-linked fence. The pool house was closed and inaccessible to park visitors. The playground was deteriorating.

RJOP before

Reverend James Orange Park pool, February 2014.

“Not too many people were coming here,” Jernard says. “It was a broken-down place,” Terry adds.

Three years ago, the community decided to push for a park that the neighbors, and especially the youth, needed. The Friends of Reverend James Orange Park reached out to Park Pride for assistance – they had a dream for their park, one that included a pool full of families and a playground full of children. Now they needed a cohesive vision – a master plan. Community stakeholders charged ahead enthusiastically with Park Pride into the Park Visioning process, and soon after, applied for and received a $100,000 grant from Park Pride to demolish the pool and build a brand new playground.

RJOP Design

Final Park Visioning conceptual master plan for Reverend James Orange Park, created in 2012.

The community’s strength and determination caught the attention of the City of Atlanta, and Mayor Kasim Reed pledged to rebuild Reverend James Orange Park’s pool and pool-house, and install a brand new splash pad.

On July 8th, 2015, hundreds of happy community members gathered to celebrate the fulfillment of that pledge and the hard work of the Friends of Reverend James Orange Park and the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation at the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the park’s new amenities!

Ribbon cutting ceremony

Ribbon cutting ceremony, July 2015.

After the ribbon is officially cut, a cheer goes up from the crowd and dozens of day campers rush into the refreshing water. There’s laughter, there’s excitement, and there’s plenty of playful splashing. The feeling of hope for the future, both that of the park and the community, is tangible in the crowd. “It’s different now that the park has been renovated. A lot of people of all ages come out to use the park and support the community,” Terry explains. Jernard is smiling, gazing towards the hoopla coming from the pool, “Now when I come to the park, I feel joy,” he says, and with a laugh, he adds. “After all, you can’t have summer without a pool!”

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Community residents enjoy the brand new pool at Reverend James Orange Park, July 2015.


Thank you!

Because of donors like you, Park Pride is able to offer programming to Friends of the Park groups at no cost, making stories like this possible.

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A Story of Hope

Park Pride met the little girl pictured recently on a hot summer’s evening at a neighborhood gathering in the Mattie Freeland Greenspace, a collection of vacant lots in the English Avenue neighborhood. The event was part of Park Pride’s unique Park Visioning process which helps communities create a shared vision for a neighborhood park.

She arrived eager to share her hopes of transforming these lots. She dreams that one day there will be a public park in her neighborhood. Her neighbors are dreaming of a playground and maybe a splash pad or basketball court, and places to sit in the shade or have a picnic. They long for a safe, fun, well-maintained place to play and enjoy the outdoors. With your help, we believe hopes like these can be realized.


Give a Gift Today


Park Pride is about more than parks and greenspace—it’s about people.

Mattie Freeland Final Visioning

The Park Pride Visioning process builds hope by bringing people together in a series of design and public meetings where they can have a say in the future of their park. Throughout the process, Park Pride’s experienced Visioning team provides pictures and site plans to help the community envision possible outcomes. Community members get to know each other and experience working together as they develop shared goals. The master plan, or “Park Vision,” created includes documentation of the process and public participation, design drawings, and a prioritized list of projects with preliminary budgets.


Your support makes it possible for the Mattie Freeland community and others throughout Atlanta to participate in Park Visioning at no cost.

The process strengthens the community, and the resulting plan is a valuable resource as groups seek to turn their dreams into reality.

Your gift to Park Pride means so much—maybe more than you realize.

IMG_8488You see, individual donations such as yours are absolutely essential to Park Pride’s ongoing operations.

Because of donors like you, Park Pride has a terrific 25-year track record for engaging and empowering communities in park creation, improvement, and activation, bringing people together and building community spaces that endure.

When you make a donation, you also support Park Pride’s hallmark community-focused “Friends of the Park” DSC_2549program which is complemented by an award-winning Volunteer Program, time-saving administrative support through the Fiscal Partners Program, the Matching Grant Programs, and of course, the unique and award-winning Park Visioning Program. These programs simply would not be possible without your generosity.

Perhaps most importantly, because of your gift, children throughout Atlanta and DeKalb have the opportunity to feel hope, to see that their words matter, and to see that someday their dreams can come true in their local parks.

Please make a generous gift today to help Park Pride make 2016 even better for children across Atlanta and DeKalb.


Give a Gift Today


We are grateful for your support. Thank you!


The Difference is Clear…

Change isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight! However, each year Park Pride actively helps neighborhoods to transform their parks and communities through programs. See the difference that your dollars help to make possible through the Park Visioning Program:

Vine City Park

VineCity Vision

In 2005, the Vine City community asked for Park Pride’s help in transforming two acres of debris and kudzu covered land into the first park in their neighborhood. Park Pride’s Visioning team worked with neighbors and other stakeholders over several months to help them refine their dreams for the new park into a conceptual master plan or “park vision,” which included a playground, amphitheater, seating and grilling areas, and plantings. The plan was implemented, and in 2007 the ribbon was cut on Vine City Park. In 2013, when adjacent properties were acquired, Park Pride brought the neighbors together once again to create a vision for expansion of the park. The community identified exercise equipment, green infrastructure and a playground expansion as key priorities for Phase II. Implementation of these improvements is underway and is scheduled for completion in fall 2015.

Vine City Complete

Give a Gift to Park Pride Today… and Make a Difference!

Your donation inspires hope and action for great parks in Atlanta and DeKalb. Thank you! Visit for more information.

Donate Now

The Difference is Clear….

Change isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight! However, each year Park Pride actively helps neighborhoods to transform their parks and communities through programs. See the difference that your dollars help to make possible through the Matching Grant Programs:

Reverend James Orange Park

For years, visitors to Oakland City Park had to pass a fenced, broken swimming pool to enter the park. Neighbors considered the park unsafe and parents wouldn’t allow their children to play there. When, in 2011, the park was renamed Reverend James Orange Park at Oakland City to honor a local hero, the community was inspired to push for a park worthy of its name. Park Pride worked with neighbors to develop a Park Vision that included a new pool, splashpad and playground. With the help of a Park Pride Legacy grant, the community’s dream became reality in July, 2015.  Local youth Jernard Evans expressed the community’s sentiment, “Now, when I come to the park, I feel joy!”

RJOP After

YOU Make Change Possible!

Your gift to Park Pride supports programs that bring positive change to communities. Thank you! For more information, visit

Donate Now

The Difference is Clear….

Change isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight! However, each year Park Pride actively helps neighborhoods to transform their parks and communities through programs. See the difference that your dollars help to make possible through the Friends of the Park Program:

Little Nancy Creek Park

LNC Before


The Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park have taken “determination” to the next level. What was once an empty, overgrown greenspace, is today a thriving and lively neighborhood park. Over the years, the Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park have taken advantage of Park Pride’s Visioning Program, Volunteer Program, Community Garden Program, Matching Grant Programs, and Fiscal Partners Program to create the park their community has always wanted. “We’re so proud of what our community accomplished in making our park a reality,” said Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park President, Anne Wilkie. “We couldn’t have done it without Park Pride.”


LNC After


Give a Gift to Park Pride Today… and Make a Difference!

Your donation inspires hope and action for great parks in Atlanta and DeKalb. Thank you! Visit for more information.

Donate Now