Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020-21, Atlantans took to parks, trails, forests, and our rivers and creeks, for refuge, fresh air and sunshine, and to combat social isolation (safely and at a distance). Parks and recreation centers further served essential functions as food distribution points, testing sites, and distance learning centers. These flexible urban spaces emerged as critical infrastructure—cornerstones of our community—that contribute to the resiliency of our city.
Now more than ever, we recognize greenspace as a vital component of a healthy, equitable, resilient, and thriving Atlanta.
Conserve Atlanta’s nature, trees and urban forests, the native habitats within them, and the ecological networks they comprise.
Public parks and greenspace are essential to people and wildlife because they’re where we can experience nature in an urban environment. Regular exposure and access to nature has been shown to have significant benefits for public health.
Additionally, greenspaces reduce the heat island effect and increase our resilience to climate change. They also provide habitat for wildlife that, in turn, provide services necessary for our survival, such as pest control and pollination. As the City in the Forest, Atlanta has an immediate and critical obligation to create high-quality urban habitat to ensure the future health of people and wildlife.
Grow the City’s capacity to maintain its existing inventory of public parks, greenspaces and trails (including the Atlanta BeltLine).
Park Pride’s advocacy work focuses on neighborhood parks and community priorities for their parks. Through the public engagement process for ActivateATL (the Department of Parks and Recreation’s 10-year master plan), we learned that:
- 24% of City of Atlanta residents reported that park facilities are not well maintained. This is double the national average.
- Park maintenance and improvement-related issues are the #1 reason that prevents Atlantans from using parks and recreation facilities.
Parks are not nice to have amenities; they are critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, this critical infrastructure is not currently getting the attention and resources it needs. The Department of Parks and Recreation currently comprises less than 2% of the overall city budget; a greater commitment is necessary.
Sustainably and equitably expand and improve Atlanta’s network of public parks, greenspaces and trails.
By most national standards, the City of Atlanta park system is below average in terms of quantity of parkland available, park access, and how well parks are maintained. In fact, in 2021 Atlanta fell from 40th to 49th place on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore, a ranking of park systems in America’s 100 largest cities.
Data shows that only 6% of Atlanta’s land is dedicated to parks, far below the national average of 15%. Meanwhile, 28% of Atlanta residents do not live within a 10-minute walk of a park. Recent acquisitions like Lake Charlotte, the grand opening of Westside Park, and the continued development of the Atlanta BeltLine Trail are a step in the right direction, but the city needs significantly more parkland to serve its growing population of residents equitably.
Our Current Advocacy Initiatives
Mayoral Forum on Greenspace
As Atlanta continues to grow and develop, prioritizing accessible and wonderful greenspace is necessary to maintain and enhance the quality of life for all Atlantans. At the 2021 Mayoral Forum on Greenspace, (which took place on September 8, 2021) we learned how each candidate’s administration would value and approach Atlanta’s natural spaces, trees, waterways, and parks and recreation system in the years to come.
Edited video clips of each candidates’ responses to questions posed at the forum are posted to help inform your vote for a Greenspace Champion for Mayor.
Increased Funding for Parks
Park Pride advocates for increased funding for park operations and maintenance in the City of Atlanta. In May of each budget cycle, we call on our most passionate park advocates to join us at City of Atlanta Council meetings to show support for an increased budget. Check Park Pride’s calendar for the dates/times/locations of budget hearings at Atlanta City Hall and other advocacy initiatives.
Greenspace Planning Initiatives
Park Pride supports the development of a greenspace plan for parks that prioritizes connectivity. Current planning efforts we currently engage in include the Citywide Design Project, the Westside Future Fund’s Plan Westside initiative, and the City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation’s comprehensive park planning effort, ActivateATL.
Friends of the Park
Park Pride encourages residents to become a voice for their own parks by joining or starting a Friends of the Park group. Friends groups and members are also invited to monthly Park Meetings where community leaders and park advocates from throughout Atlanta for education, networking and strategy.