On June 13, 2016, Park Pride, The Conservation Fund and partners announced a “Commitment to Action” to encourage economic growth and opportunity for those living within Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Watershed at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Meeting. The neighborhoods within the Proctor Creek Watershed, including Vine City and English Avenue, have long suffered from the negative effects of combined sewer overflows, economic disinvestment, social and educational challenges, and lack of greenspace.
The commitment launched at CGI America to “Build Community with Green Infrastructure & Parks” focuses on the conversion of several blighted urban lots within the Proctor Creek Watershed into a vibrant park to be known as Boone Park West. Further, the commitment proposes additional benefits related to the park’s development—community engagement in park design and construction, education of community residents in green infrastructure solutions, and access to jobs and workforce training for residents—all of which will serve to catalyze economic revitalization for the surrounding community.
Boone Park West is part of a larger green infrastructure vision (Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision, Park Pride, 2010) that addresses the lack of greenspace and the need for stormwater solutions in the headwaters of the Proctor Creek Watershed. A key component of Boone Park West will be a green infrastructure amenity designed to capture, clean and infiltrate at least 37,000 cubic feet of stormwater from the surrounding streets, mitigating the recurrent flooding that has historically plagued these neighborhoods.
Park Pride will facilitate a community-directed process to develop the park masterplan and ensure that the resulting greenspace meets the needs of the communities it serves. The Conservation Fund will support this community initiative, in addition to serving as the lead in property acquisition for all remaining lots. Other project partners include The City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation, The City of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability, the University Community Development Corporation, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Greening Youth Foundation.
“Our Commitment to Action recognizes the role parks and greenspace can play in making Atlanta a more sustainable city. We are excited to have this opportunity to connect with the Clinton Global Initiative and thought leaders from around the country and to advance solutions to the challenges facing urban areas across the United States.” Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director
Boone Park West will serve as an invaluable amenity to the community, providing residents in Vine City and English Avenue with a place to relax, exercise, play with their families, and meet their neighbors.
“By working in partnership with foundations, corporations, government agencies, other nonprofit organizations, and most importantly, with the local communities, we can meet the needs of area residents. This will be a Park with Purpose, providing environmental, economic, and social justice benefits that improve the health and quality of life for everyone in the Proctor Creek Watershed.”
Stacy Funderburke, The Conservation Fund’s Assistant Regional Counsel & Real Estate Associate
After Mayor Kasim Reed announced the Commitment to Action “Building Community with Green Infrastructure & Parks,” at the CGI America meeting, Halicki had the opportunity to speak directly to what this park means to the future of Atlanta’s Westside. Highlights of this press conference are quoted below.
“[Boone Park West] will increase public access to recreational opportunities, provide jobs and workforce training for residents, improve the environment, restore natural habitat, and act as a catalyst for economic revitalization and job creation.”
“Here’s some more good news… Trust for public land is working with the City of Atlanta to build a new world class 16 acre park, not far from where we are right now. I could not be more excited to announce the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has committed $2.5 million as a seed grant for the construction of Mims Park.”
-Mayor Kasim Reed
“In order for public parks to be relevant in blighted neighborhoods like Vine City and English Avenue, they need to be about more than just parks. They need to engage the community, and involve new partners. They need to provide additional benefits through green infrastructure, jobs training, and education. They need to be transformational. Boone Park West takes what we’ve learned from Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park and takes it to the next level. It’s what the Conservation Fund calls a ‘park with purpose.’ It engages the community as a partner in conceptualizing the park, building the park, and activating the park. It involves an expansive group of partners that continues to build and grow. We are heavily invested in this commitment and this new transformational approach.”
-Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride
“Mims Park will be the westside equivalent of the Old Fourth Ward Park, for those of you who are from Atlanta, you have seen how that park transformed the neighborhood where it was. We believe the same thing will happen on the westside, that this is a community development project, it’s a sustainability project, that it will provide jobs, and it will solve a flood plane problem that’s been long standing in these neighborhoods. So this is an important centerpiece of what we believe will be catalytic redevelopment on the westside.”
-Penny McPhee, President of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation