Committee Chair: David Brandenberger
Committee member(s): Jack White.
The committee is responsible for the development, enhancement and maintenance of the park land located within Virginia-Highland, in cooperation with and as a local complement to the City of Atlanta’s (CoA) primary responsibility in this area. Public parks in the neighborhood include: John Howell Park, Orme Park, the Triangle at Virginia & North Highland, and VHCA’s privately-owned North Highland Park.
Recurring Annual Goals:
- In cooperation and with the support of CoA Parks, protect and improve the neighborhood’s open spaces.
- Develop and share a detailed narrative of each park’s needs and contemplated responses that encourages not only beautiful space for residents and visitors alike, but that also benefit the general environment in an eco-friendly manner.
- Organize, nurture and assist a network of citizens interested in parks. Stage volunteer days as needed to work on plantings and cleanups, etc.
- Lobby for matching grants from non-profits such as Park Pride to maintain and support desirable park qualities such as sustainability, safety, and eco-friendly-ness.
- Maintain a functional and inclusive relationship with the CoA Parks Department that makes effective use of the services they provide while bolstering their efforts, as needed, especially as it relates to preserving the character and ecology of all neighborhood parks.
- Select and hire appropriate professional horticultural services to meet these goals.
- Hold public ‘Open Houses’ to engage with citizens about their parks on an ‘as-needed’ or requested basis.
- Continue with the established program to routinely prune desired plants and trees and remove invasive plants in addition to performing general maintenance.
Specific Goals for 2020:
Formally adopt these General Design Principles for VaHi Parks.
- Keep park spaces safe, inviting, and pleasant to be in.
- Park edges should be active and inviting, not barriers. Interior fences are appropriate only to address specifically identified needs. Except to shield private property, fences should be transparent and allow the inside of the park to be visually connected to the outside, both for safety and to induce greater usage.
- Realizing that no park can be all things to all people, we strive for diverse and flexible designs that can attract a diverse set of users from the neighborhood and beyond.
- Spaces that are adaptable to multiple future uses are ideal; functional open areas are preferable to a field designed for a single sport, for example.
- Urban stormwater is not inevitable; it is a design failure. We should mitigate this problem wherever possible and feasible, not exacerbate it. We support the use of rain gardens and other formal methods of absorbing stormwater on site, both to supply a healthy water table and to protect our city’s infrastructure. Onsite, we try to break up and re-distribute stormwater before it accumulates and accelerates.
- We deliberately plant native flora. Many non-invasive non-natives exist in VaHi parks and are tolerated because they address specific challenges. However, we strive to remove all invasives where possible from a design and practical perspective. Our parks should showcase the right plants in the right places.
- Mature forests of the Georgia Piedmont are dominated by oaks and hickories, but pine trees and other trees are also found and should be included in our parks and public spaces.
- Because open areas and recreational opportunities are at a premium in Atlanta, we support sharing all public spaces with the neighborhood’s public schools.
- By intention, by law, and in spirit, our parks are open to all citizens who follow the rules and treat their fellow humans with respect and courtesy.
Specific Goals for 2020 by Park:
John Howell Park
- Continue with routine maintenance efforts, planting of perennials and soil erosion work.
- Engage with the City to begin planning for replacement of the upper playground. Contemplate funding a stormwater abatement plan, if the City will require this prior to embarking on planning for a new playground in order to raise this effort higher up on the City’s priority list.
- Initiate a fundraising effort to begin to raise money for the new playground.
- Initiate an effort to clean, strip and re-stain the park’s benches and the park’s sign at Barnett and Virginia Avenue.
North Highland Park
- Install a bike rack or two along the ROW on St. Charles Avenue.
- Consider planting a permanent tree in the park that can be used for holiday decorating.
- Continue with the routine pruning, planting and maintenance/upkeep of the park.
- Evaluate installing several rain barrels to provide water for annual plants/bulbs.
- In cooperation with the Social Committee, continue to explore, pursue and encourage varied public and/or private community uses and activities appropriate for the Park when and where this makes sense, while maintaining appropriate consideration of the Park’s neighbors. Examples could include (some to raise funds for the neighborhood; some to encourage community; some to add value to the perception of the Atkins Park node): small weddings, movies, barbecues, seasonal goods sales, menorah and tree lighting ceremony conducted during the holidays, etc.
- Implement utility box paintings.
- Monitor and maintain the renovation completed several years ago.
- Evaluate neighborhood support in order to begin evaluation of cost and efforts required to conduct an Ecological Assessment and Community-Based Master Plan specifically considering:
- a) improvements to the naturalized areas of the Park (along Elkmont and Brookridge), possibly including riparian restoration,
- b) recommendations for renovation of the existing historic bridge,
- c) recommendations for safety improvements for park access points,
- d) consideration of park aesthetics, viewsheds, and visitor experience including those in shared use areas,
- e) planting recommendations to enhance park character, sense of place and visitor navigation,
- f) assessment of existing conditions of vegetation, stream health, and stormwater flows, and
- g) management of invasive plants, installation of new planting supportive of native ecology.
- Stage volunteer days and participate in meetings with the Friends of Orme Park group as needed to work on plantings and cleanups, etc.
The Triangle at Virginia & North Highland
- Continue to install and maintain seasonal and perennial plantings.
- Consider installing edging on the southwestern ‘hypotenuse’ side to discourage citizens from entering the planted areas.