- The Green Market farmers market at Piedmont Park had a two-week early soft opening last week and in spite of bad weather, did very well. This is the 10-year anniversary of the Green Market.
- Phoenix Flies Tours, in conjunction with the Atlanta Preservation Center, will conduct 9 to10 ninety-minute historic tours through March 23rd. Tours are on Monday-Tuesday and Saturday.
- A construction project to activate 15 new acres is proceeding. The North Woods Trail is being paved, which will cross over the Beltline and provide improved access to the park. The new area will be open in early summer.
- The Community Center used for today’s meeting used to be the American Legion Hall. The property was carved out of Piedmont Park and given to the American Legion when the park was being built. The city purchased it in 1998 using a partial grant from the Woodruff Foundation. Among other things, the Hall used to be the venue for Drag Bingo and reportedly had slot machines in the back. The American Legion requested than an element from the Hall be preserved and the flagpole out front is the relic from the Legion Hall preserved to commemorate the building’s past. The American Legion has a memorial service on the site every year, replacing the flag with a new one. They recently added a gold eagle to the top of the pole. The original brass American Legion sign is at its base.
- April is Earth Month, April 22nd is Earth Day, which means a lot of volunteers for Piedmont and other parks. EarthShare’s Corporate Green Day Challenge is an excellent opportunity to get groups of 50 – 100 people to assist in park cleanup and mulching efforts. Contact John@parkpride.org to coordinate with the city on available volunteers. John can also do site visits and assist with identifying appropriate tasks.
- Keep Atlanta Beautiful is having a recycling day on April 13 where Atlanta Tool Bank will also be on hand to accept gently used tools.
- Piedmont Park is experiencing ongoing attendance growth. Current estimated attendance is 3 million people per year. 70% of city permitted events occur in the park, including all Class A events. The park is expecting an increase of 100,000 visitors in 2013 because of the popularity of the Beltline connection to O4W Park. A pilot bike lane is being put in as a striped lane along 10th Street so bikers have a safe way to get all the way to the Ansley Shopping Center. The Dog Park has been driving incremental park attendance also.
- 2012 saw a total of 10,000 volunteer hours at Piedmont Park. In addition to accomplishing tasks in the park, these hours are also valued at $20.78 per hour and used for matching grants. Piedmont Park uses a lot of court-ordered volunteers who need to perform community service, typically 20 to 100 hours. Interns are also used extensively. Piedmont Park has a relationship with Emory University and is able to leverage talent in marketing, special events and horticulture through the program. Compensation is usually in the form of free pool and parking passes. There are only 28 full-time staff people, which is down from historic staffing levels even though the park now has more acreage. The staff needed to run and maintain the park is made up in volunteers. Piedmont Park has more brick and mortar facilities than any other park in the area which both gives the park more revenue opportunities and more maintenance requirements.
- Permitting rests with the Office of the Mayor with some input from the Parks Department. The City sends permit applications to Piedmont Park as a courtesy and the park reviews them to make sure that requirements are being met, especially with new promoters. Parks don’t get compensated for events, so there is some frustration with staff time and facility wear and tear. The city does not conduct review meetings anymore and does not have a budget to oversee events, so these functions now fall to the parks. Piedmont Park has added a weekend operations manager to make sure events are within compliance.
- Setup and striking an event are the critical time for park oversight. Most damage happens when an event is struck, with less care and respect being shown by vendors. Currently no bond or security deposit is required, so parks end up responsible for damage. More film crews are using parks and they also can cause damage and move on.
- An event at Piedmont Park for 100,000 people, giving control over an area of the park for three days, often up to 150 acres, is only $10,000, which does not go to support the park.
- Joy Brown posts special event information online on the Mayor’s website. Adrienne at Office of Parks (firstname.lastname@example.org) sends out email notifications on events. You need both to get a complete picture of event permit applications and approvals.
Pop-Up Sports Events
- The City allows pickup sports in parks. League play is different and requires a permit.
- Green spaces becoming ad hoc athletic fields are a maintenance problem. Cleats tear up turf, especially if the ground is wet.
- Piedmont Park has put in a flagging system, with flag poles in areas used for sports. A red flag denotes that the field is closed, usually because of weather/wet ground. Cleats are also forbidden unless a permit has been granted.
- This issue needs to be addressed with the City. Using the parks for athletics should be encouraged, but damage to green spaces also needs to be minimized.
- This year’s conference is March 25th at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, with workshops available on the 23rd and 24th. Registration closes soon.
Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors
- The City is using grant money to replace standard trash receptacles with Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors. These solve a theft problem with the standard receptacles and provide better trash control/removal.
- Maintenance versus traditional trash receptacle is an issue, but the City has a robust maintenance program and they have worked well elsewhere.
- Old 4th Ward Park has several of the units and the only problem is that they aren’t as numerous as the traditional trash cans were. People don’t always seem willing to take the few extra steps to get to them.