Category Archives: news


I’m happy to announce that as of February, 2015, the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden will have some new coordinators. My good friends and nature lovers, Pandra Williams, Jeff Killingsworth, Lauren Sandoval and Beech Hollow Farms  will be adopting the Garden via Park Pride.

All three have had a long term commitment to restoring native habitats and to community education. Pandra currently manages Beech Hollow Farms, a nursery for native plants, which works with communities and organizations to restore native greenspaces. Beech Hollow Farm is a 120 acre native plant farm just outside Lexington, Ga. The Farm is the culmination of a nearly decade long mission to save and propagate plants from the metro Atlanta area threatened by development and invasive species. Pandra has also been the driving force behind EcoAddendum, an organization whose focus has been on education and restoration of native species for pollinators, birds and, butterflies

Jeff is the Nursery Manager at Beech Hollow Farms and is in the process of getting his certificate in native plant studies at the State Botanical Garden He previously worked at EcoAddendum in a similar position. Jeff has been a long term gardener and has been studying ecology centered books for many years.

Lauren, in her day job, is the Youth Education Manager at Trees Atlanta. The Youth Education program uses the Freedom Park Garden as an environmental education tool with students at May Lin Elementary School just up the hill. Previously Lauren has also worked at EcoAddendum where she was closely involved with management and community education projects.

I’ll be stepping back as Garden Coordinator as soon as they take over. I’ve had that position for many years, since the first plant was put in the Garden in the spring of 2005. The Garden was enlarged three times over the years and now has over 40 species of native plants established there. Thanks to Al Hurt of Audubon we have an active bluebird box on site. There is also a bird bath for visitors to take a dip in (birds only please).

The DeKalb Master Garden Association and the Atlanta Audubon Society helped to get the garden started. The Master Gardener Association left a few years ago to go on to other projects. Over the years many neighborhood individuals and organizations helped to keep the garden going. They are too numerous to name here but I can only say how grateful I’ve been for their help!

I feel the community is very lucky to have Pandra. Jeff and Lauren taking things over. I know they will bring a great deal of knowledge, enthusiasm, dedication and energy to the project. They are committed environmentalist and have a special interest in pollinators. I can’t wait to see their vision for the Garden come into being.

Carol Vanderschaaf

Volunteer Opportunity: King Day 2014

Freedom Park Conservancy (King Day 2014)
The mission of Freedom Park Conservancy is to promote the improvement and preservation of Freedom Park for the benefit of a diverse public.

During Martin Luther King Jr. Day, volunteers are needed to help with landscaping projects and general park cleaning. Volunteers will also be painting over graffiti under bridges at Randolph St NE, Highland Ave along the Freedom Park Trail.

Please park at the Carter Center and Presidential Library on the easternmost end of the parking lot (furthest end from the main entrance toward Highland Ave – click here for a map). Signs will direct volunteers to this end of the parking lot.


Please be prepared to walk throughout the park and to cross a street or two to get to the various portions of the park.

Let us know you are coming to volunteer – sign up at Hands on Atlanta

Questions? Email Jay the FPC Park Improvement Committee Chair at

2014 FPC Officers

At the Freedom Park Conservancy Annual meeting held the Second Tuesday of November 2013, the new slate of Officers were elected for 2014. New Officers and Committee Chairs for 2014:

2014 Freedom Park Conservancy Executive Directors
President: David Hamilton
Vice President: Edward Holifield
Vice President: Ed Dreistadt
Secretary: William ‘Billy’ Davis
Treasurer: Carol Gregory

2014 Committee Chairs
Park Improvement: Jay Wozniak
PR/Communications: Stephanie Saxon
Nominating Committee: Edward Holifield

Congratulations to all! 2014 looks to be a big year for Freedom Park as the Board begins in earnest the effort to update the park master plan which is long overdue for a refresh. The board also continues its charge to protect the integrity of the park boundary and the lease between GDOT and the City, which is unique to Freedom Park, in the City of Atlanta. In 2013 the FPC Board successfully worked with the Parks Department and Atlanta Public Schools to establish a City resolution for the donation, by APS, of the forthcoming parking lot in Freedom Park adjacent to Mary Lin Elementary School. This resolution is a necessary recognition of the process by which the parking lot was established and most importantly it protects the integrity of the 99 year lease for Freedom Park. Not familiar with the unique history of this great park? Check out this mini documentary.

A day in the park

The Conservancy set up in the park over the weekend to spread the good word about us and to meet and hear from park users – tanks to all who stopped by; we hope to see you showing off your FPC stickers with pride. If you didn’t see us this weekend, we’ll be out again soon. In the meantime feel free to sign-up for our email list – we will send alerts for happenings in the park, including volunteer days, and other worthy news updates.

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FPC Board Member Allen Bradley in the news

Allen (right) and friends kayak the Georgia coast.

Allen Bradley would testify under oath to the greatness of the great outdoors. Much of his leisure time is devoted to communing with it: hiking, camping, canoeing. He has even negotiated the Appalachian Trail, the Georgia and Smokey Mountains National Park portions.

In November, the corporate tax attorney with Stites & Harbinson and three buddies took on a demanding test of nature—paddling along the entire Georgia coast in sea kayaks.  Bradley joined Doug Petterson, James Marlow and Phillip Hodges in Hilton Head, S.C., and for the next eight days covered 150 watery miles to Amelia Island, Fla., traveling dawn to dusk…. read the rest of the story on the Daily Report and go here for more photos from the trip.




Open Invitation to the dedication of the Tree of Life & Kan, by Yvonne Domenge

Invitation - Tree of Life Dedication March 20, 2013 4pm
click image for larger view of the invitation

All are invited to the dedication of the Tree of Life & Kan by Yvonne Domenge March 20, 2013 at 4pm in Freedom Park. The sculpture is at the intersection of North Ave and Oakdale Rd. Keynote speakers will include Mayor Kasim Reed, Councolmembers Kwanza Hall and Alex Wan, Director of Cultural Affairs Camille Russell Love and the artist Yvonne Domenge.  There will also be a performance by Blake Dalton/CORE dance of Corazon Abriendo – this performance is based in Mayan concepts as is Tree of Life and Kan sculpture.

The artist will also give an exclusive talk about the sculpture beginning at 6pm at the High Museum of Art – the talk is free and open to the public.



March 14, 2013 Park Pride PARC meeting notes

Piedmont Park

  • 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 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 ( 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.

Park Pride Conference

  • 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.