Atlanta receives Federal Grants to Improve parks
By Jannah Bolds
BEN Network Freelance writer
By Fall 2016, the City of Atlanta will have worked over 12 months to expand and improve a special area in West Atlanta, Proctor Creek Watershed, and has received over half a million in federal funds to complete it.
A total of $590 thousand has been contributed by three major organizations to construct and make this watershed area more of a greenspace. The National Park Service contributed $280 thousand, which was matched by the Emerald Corridor Foundation. The Trust for Public Land was also able to contribute $30 thousand.
“It is city property that has been laying dormant for decades and the foundation owned a bit also and decided that it was a really natural place near a MARTA station and there was space to create an accessible feature that could have educational value in addition to the trail and exercise spaces that were the subject of the grant,” said Debra Edelson, Executive Director for the Emerald Corridor Foundation.
The goal of this project is to benefit the community by creating a “greenspace” and to protect the watershed at Proctor Creek. The watershed covers approximately 16 square miles and Proctor Creek runs about nine miles.
Protecting watersheds are necessary for providing clean drinking water, habitats for wildlife, and recreational areas.
“This covers a nine-mile corridor that is currently being underutilized. There are are about 60,000 residents tat live in the neighborhood that have no real access to a greenspace within walking distance, so the goal is to focus on this area,” said Aaron Baspan, Mayors Office of Sustainability Community and Project Manager.
This project will create indirect jobs initially and will also require specific maintenance in order to keep the greenspace running.
“We will need suppliers that will supply equipment and installation services. This will also create long-term jobs in our Department of Parks and Recreation in order to maintain it,” said Baspan.
Specific features that this new greenspace will include a 1,400-foot pedestrian and bike trail, three adult fitness stations, three children’s pay stations, benches, and spaces for picnic activity and play.
“A key point to make here is that instead of us coming to the table with a perscribed plan, we have a ‘wish list’ that will allow us to take the time to work with the community and hear what their wish list of items would be since it is in their backyard,” said Baspan.
It is the City’s vision to have the park open next summer with 12-14 months of construction. Baspan believes that this project fits into an overall sustainability priority and that if the city can successfully get residents out of their houses into parks, they’re more likely to reinvest their money back into the neighborhood.
He said it will draw businesses, people will want to live there and eventually reshape the city.