The neighborhood described above was, unfortunately, Atlanta’s own English Avenue just a few years ago. However, due to the persistence of English Avenue residents combined with the support of Park Pride and dozens of partners, this neighborhood is experiencing a renewal, starting with greenspace.
English Avenue, situated within the Proctor Creek Watershed on Atlanta’s Westside, has long suffered from damaging combined-sewer overflows related to stormwater runoff, economic disinvestment, social and educational challenges, and a lack of greenspace.
However, on August 23rd, the community and partners (including Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and the City of Atlanta) gathered to break ground on a long-anticipated greenspace that will both mitigate flooding in the neighborhood and address the lack of access to parks. City of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms presided over the dedication ceremony where she, along with Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Lee Young, Jr. and Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong, revealed the official new name of the greenspace formerly known as Boone Park West—the Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park.
Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park is the third in a series of parks proposed in the Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision (Park Pride, 2010) to address stormwater runoff and create park space. The park is expected to manage up to 3.5 million gallons of stormwater per year, capturing runoff from adjacent streets and routing the water into a series of rain gardens, stormwater swales, and underground chambers. These features will clean and detain the stormwater, reducing flooding and sewer overflow events.
“While Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park will alleviate flooding,” explained Park Pride’s Director of Park Visioning, Andrew White, “it more importantly has the potential to become the heart of the English Avenue community.” In 2016, White and English Avenue leaders formed a steering committee of neighborhood residents to direct the creation of a park master plan through Park Pride’s Park Visioning Program. As the plan developed, hundreds of community members gave input. “This plan reflects what a community wants to see in their park, increasing the likelihood that the park will become a beloved greenspace.”
“For a project to truly be community-supported, residents must be at the table…”
~ Tony Torrence, Co-Chair,
Proctor Creek Stewardship Council
Tony Torrence, an English Avenue resident and Co-Chair of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, agrees. “For a project to truly be community-supported, residents must be at the table,” stated Torrence. “Community residents have been engaged every step of the way in developing the plans for this park.”Additionally, area residents will participate in workforce training through a partnership with the Greening Youth Foundation and play a hands-on role in building the park.
The Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park also preserves a powerful legacy in Atlanta’s history of civil rights. In 2006, Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old grandmother, was tragically killed by members of the Atlanta Police Department in her English Avenue home. This park will preserve her memory and sacrifice, serving as a reminder to prevent future tragedies.
Once completed, the Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park will provide English Avenue residents a safe place to relax, exercise, play with their families, and meet their neighbors. In addition to the water retention amenities, the park will include a playground, fitness station, and open greenspace for pickup games of soccer or flying kites.
We look forward to sharing progress as the park moves toward completion and a ribbon-cutting celebration. Follow along on the Park Pride blog for updates: parkpride.org/news.
1.Additional partners and funders that have played a key role in bringing Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park to fruition include: the City of Atlanta’s Departments of Parks and Recreation and Watershed Management, the City of Atlanta’s Office of Resilience, Invest Atlanta, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, English Avenue Neighborhood Association, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and the National Recreation & Parks Association (visit the Park Pride website for a full list of our valued partners and funders: bit.ly/kjmp2018).