History of Mattie Freeland Park
Despite being less than a mile from downtown, the English Avenue neighborhood on Atlanta’s Westside has suffered from decades of disinvestment and numerous impacts related to systemic poverty and neglect.
Ms. Mattie Freeland lived across from a lot filled with abandoned vehicles—an eye sore, an environmental nuisance, an economic hinderance, and a physical danger to the children of the neighborhood. She dreamed of one day turning this into a clean, safe, beautiful space for the community to gather, grow food, and play.
Since Ms. Mattie’s death in 2008, neighbors have worked together to build a community garden and a small greenspace, naming it after their beloved matriarch. The space came to life with children playing pick-up games of football and residents gathering around a homemade screen and borrowed projector for neighborhood movie nights. A swing set, picnic tables, and grilling area emerged as residents cleared weeds and planted trees. Neighbors painted murals on the abandoned buildings surrounding the space, and along the fence line, creating a place of positive healing and community pride.
Park Visioning with Park Pride
With the hope of turning this grassroots greenspace into an official park, the Friends of Mattie Freeland Park applied to participate in the Park Visioning Program in 2015.
Working with Park Pride’s team of professional landscape architects, a community-driven conceptual park master plan was created that reflected the hopes of neighbors for their future greenspace. A stakeholder committee of eight neighbors worked with Park Pride to engage and gather community input through a series of public meetings and a door-to-door park survey. For this neighborhood park, like all neighborhood parks, making sure each and every voice was heard was a top priority!
In 2018, English Avenue neighbors again worked with the Park Pride team to revise the vision plan, bringing the community’s dreams one step closer to fruition.
Phase I Park Development
Phase I development of Mattie Freeland Park is currently underway and is expected to open to the public in Summer 2021.
With a level multi-use playing field, a picnic and grilling area, and a community-led art installation, the neighborhood is about to have an official park that serves the needs of the community and represents Ms. Mattie’s legacy!
Mattie Freeland Park Timeline and Updates:
- 2008: Lot clean up began
- 2015: Conceptual park plan created through Park Pride’s Park Visioning Program
- 2018: Vision Plan revision
- February 2020: Demolition of abandoned apartment building on site
- March 2020: Site preparation and clean up
- October 2020: Phase I groundbreaking celebration
- December 2020: Construction update
- June 2021: Phase I completed, park open to public