News and Happenings around Freedom Park

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The Freedom Farmers Market is back for 2015!

In case you haven’t heard, the Freedom Barkway off-leash dog park is making great strides and will have a ribbon cutting ceremony next Saturday Mar 21st at 1p. A nice way to kick-off spring in Freedom Park. You can see images and plans of the dog park on the Freedom  Barkway website. It sounds like the initial installment will be to get the park open, finer amenities will come later; sooner if funds can be raised, so donate today!

City of Atlanta named finalist for Public Art Challenge: The Mayor’s Office of CulturalAffairs (OCA) has announced that the City of Atlanta is a finalist to possibly receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. The new program focuses on supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, and encourage civic and social dialogue. Atlanta, along with 11 other cities has been chosen to submit a full proposal. Read more…

The Freedom Farmers Market is back, under the shade of the tress in the parking lots of the Carter Center for 2015. You might have already missed it, twice, since the market reopened for 2015 on Sat. March 7th. You can keep up with market news via their website or Facebook page.

 

 

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.

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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 pic@freedompark.org

Bird and Butterfly Garden Volunteers

Thank you to the volunteers that spent hours Saturday morning working and weeding the Freedom Park Bird and Butterfly Garden! Stop by and see the garden at the corner of North Ave and Candler Park Dr just down the hill from Mary Lin Elementary.

Lauren Sanoval, Carol Gregory, Meta Larrson, and Carol Vanderschauf.

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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 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

  • 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 (awright@atlantaga.gov) 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.

Increased police patrols coming to Atlanta Parks

Last night during our regular monthly meeting of the Freedom Park Conservancy we welcomed Zone Commander Major Keith Meadows and Chief Finley from APD Zone 6 to get an update on the Atlanta Police Department efforts to increase police patrols in city parks, particularly Freedom Park and the Atlanta BeltLine. You may be aware that it was announced in June of 2012 that APD received a $1.8 million grant to hire 15 new officers to  staff the Path Patrol, or as we heard it called tonight, the Park Patrol. The 2012 press release can be seen here. The good news is the force is coming soon. We should expect to see the 15 new officers out and in the parks by June of this year. Ultimately the force is to increase to 20 officers. In addition to the new officers APD will be in the parks on mounted patrol – maybe you have seen the officers on horses in the park or on the new BeltLine Eastside Trail, and they will be receiving an electric vehicle that they can use to patrol paths and parks. All of this is good news for security in and around our parks, and we will be sure to share more information as we get updates from APD.

Are you attending the annual Park Pride conference?

Activating Parks for Healthy Communities

 

Register today for Park Pride’s Annual Parks & Greenspace Conference being held on Monday, March 25 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Learn how to “Activate Parks for Healthy Communities” from local and national experts!

Pre-Conference Tours:
Don’t forget to sign up for the pre-conference tours and get out and active, while getting educated. Check out the tours on our website and register today!

Inspiration Awards – Deadline Extended!
Who Inspires You? Do you know someone who has made a positive health impact on their community through the use of parks? If so, nominate them today for Park Pride’s Inspiration Awards. Deadline for nominations is Friday, March 8. Finalists and Award Winners will be recognized at the conference!

2013 Conference Sponsors! 
The 2013 Conference is made possible thanks to Presenting Sponsor Cox Enterprises/Cox Conserves and Title Sponsor Kaiser Permanente, as well as lead sponsors Atlanta Botanical Garden, Big Green Egg, H R & A, Invesco, Jones Day, Landscape Structures, Piedmont Healthcare, Springer Mountain Farms and Trust for Public Land.

PARC meeting notes

Park Atlanta Rescue Coalition organized by Park Pride

On the second Thursday of every month at 7:30am, Park Pride brings together community leaders and park advocates from throughout Atlanta for education, networking and strategy. The most recent meeting was 2/14 at Grant Park – here notes on items discussed at the meeting.

Grant Park
Upcoming events in include the kickoff to the 2013 Grand Park Historic Walking Tours on March 4. Complete schedule of Grand Park events will be at http://www.gpconservancy.org/event/2013/02/14/list/all/all. The Lantern Parade will be repeated in October and the Summer Shade Festival will happen once again in late August.

The Grant Park Rec Center now has a computer lab, dojo for martial arts training, a gym and a cardio room.

Grant Park is online with ActiveNet for class and activity signups. Third party vendor programs (judo lessons, Insanity Workout, etc) with payment capabilities will go online March 4. Grant Park will collect registration fees and disburse to vendors. Vendors get 75% of fees and Grant Park gets 25%.

Senior/Adult programs are more popular than youth programs at Grant Park due to the nature of the neighborhood. Grant Park has several nearby schools with after school programs plus Boys/Girls Clubs. An average of 40 people access the rec center each day, but only 5 children take advantage of the youth programs. Grant Park will not be on one the 10 Centers of Hope Rec Centers because of neighborhood demographics, resources and youth attendance patterns. The park will, however, offer art, music and other programs geared toward seniors.

City of Atlanta Aquatics Director
Eric Ericson was the meeting’s featured speaker. He’s been the Aquatics Director since May last year. He noted that over 200 people have applied for the city’s open Recreation Director position and the job will be filled shortly.

On November 7th, he received word that the King Natatorium would close immediately. An independent engineering firm submitted a report stating that the building was unstable and a 90mph wind or a seismic event would result in the building collapsing. It was closed immediately because of safety concerns. The building had been built in the 1920s as a transportation workshop and was converted to a pool in 1978. The city put in the pool, removed the roof and installed the glass box on top.

It was renovated in the late ’90s, but nothing structurally was done. 3 or 4 years ago, the parking lot had to be shut down because of structural problems. Half the pool was above ground and insufficiently supported.

The King Natatorium was the city’s most popular pool, so steps were quickly taken to find a replacement. As a stop-gap measure, the King Middle School pool has been renovated. It was in an unusable state and has been refurbished as a temporary replacement for the closed facility. The KMS pool has undergone a 3 1/2 month renovation under a unique partnership between APS and the City. The result is not ideal…only 6 lanes, no separate training pool, no separate locker facilities for a youth program, a public facility offering universal access in a school zone that is normally the opposite, so it is not a long-term solution.

The King Natatorium will be demolished and will most likely become green space offering a better sight line/access to the King Center. The site is also too small for a natatorium the size the community needs. Plans are for a new site to be identified within 1.5 miles of the old site, with construction of a new natatorium to happen within three years. There is a possibility of working with the King Center on a new location.

There was also discussion of a goal to teach every child in Atlanta to swim as a safety and life skill.

The City operates 10 outdoor pools and 4 natatoriums currently. Another three public pools not operated by the city are also within the City of Atlanta at Piedmont Park and Chastain Park.

City of Atlanta Department of Parks
Doug Voss noted that the Department of Parks is streamlining their point of contact information. Emails with requests to Parks should go to parkscustomerservice@atlantaga.gov or by phone to 404.546.6813. If we don’t see our mowing crew show up, for example, this would be the way to report it.

Parks has been working to get the Stump Crew up and running again. There are currently over 1,000 stumps identified to be ground up. The city’s stump grinders have been refurbished and they are looking for a contractor to do the work. Finding a reputable vendor has been a problem, though, with most operators being independent contractors with small grinders towed behind a pickup truck. Goal is to have the stump grinding operation up and running by July.

George Dusenberry talked about how the parks tend to serve neighborhoods without Boys and Girls Clubs. The Camps program costs $35 per week and 80% of participants get some financial aid, most through CAPS. Georgia now has an immigration law on the books that not only requires notarized photo ID for someone to apply for this type of aid, but also makes any state employee personally responsible for an illegal alien accessing state aid or public services. Centers will give staff training to become notary publics and each center will have a notary available at no charge to make sure applications are in compliance with the law.

Special Events Meeting
The City will have a Special Events meeting on February 28th at 6:00 in the Piedmont Room of the Civic Center. Permitting for special events and outdoor festivals will be covered. Recommendations on the 2013 event calendar will be discussed. Details have been emailed to participants who were in the last meeting.  Ayanna (ayanna@parkpride.org) can send more information to anyone who needs it.

Streets Alive
There was brief discussion about food trucks at Streets Alive. Parking a food truck on city streets isn’t permissible, but at special event festivals like Streets Alive, it’s becoming common.

DeKalb County Natural Resources
Dave Butler reported that DeKalb County has added over 3,500 acres of park land over the past couple of years. Budget constraints have been a challenge. Park Pride and 36 Friends groups have helped in maintaining the growing number of parks and properties. Park Pride has awarded grants to 5 DeKalb County parks. The Atlanta Audobon Society has instituted bird tours at several parks and the Atlanta Botanical Garden has also provided grant money.

City Parks Budget
The City has been dealing with declining revenues for three years, primarily because of declining property values caused by the recession. The rate of decline has improved with a $50 million drop three years ago, followed by $10 million and $5 million this past year. In spite of this, the Parks Department has not had a budget cut and has actually seen a modest budget increase. They have added park space and have been able to make the case that they are doing more for the same amount of money. The Mayor is also behind funding for the Center For Hope program. The Parks Department, however, is close to the limit of what it can do with the current budget.

Current efforts include making up for 20 years of neglect, including inoperative water fountains, lights that have not been maintained and/or vandalized, etc. The Parks Department is slowly getting on top of what needs to be done.

Park Pride Conference
Park Pride is hosting their 12th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden on March 25, 2013. Early bird registration ends on Feb. 22nd. Friends of Parks scholarship rates end on 2/15. County Commissioners can also nominate up to 2 participants each.

Audubon Society
The Atlanta Audubon Society will be having bird walks the 1st Saturday of every month in Piedmont Park. Participants will meet at 8AM at 12th & Piedmont. They are interested in establishing other walks with the intention of getting birders in park neighborhoods to take on walk duties once a base of participants is established. They also have binoculars they can loan to help get the program established.

Phoenix Flies Walks and Seed Swap
Grant Park will start second Saturday historical walks starting on March 1st. They will also host a Seed Swap for neighborhood gardeners.

Greening Away the Girth

reposted from HuffPost Healthy Living

Losing weight is America’s most popular New Year’s resolution. And many people stick to their resolutions — well, at least for the first month or so. With more than one-third of adults and nearly 20 percent of youth considered obese in the United States, it’s no wonder we all want to shed a few pounds. We know that eating better (more fresh fruits and veggies) and getting a minimum of 30 minutes (60 for kids) of exercise each day can help us reach a healthier weight, but how does our environment impact our health and wellness plans?

Read the rest here,there are lots of great links and information in the article – good news for neighbors of Freedom Park!