John Howell Park Work Day March 11th

by David Brandenberger, VHCA Board Member and Chair of the Parks Committee

The VHCA Parks Committee is happy to announce that our next volunteer work day for Parks will happen the morning of Saturday, March 11th at 9:00 am at John Howell Park.

The goal will be to do general debris clean-up and routine maintenance–with a particular focus on further repair of the soil erosion that has occurred on the slope near DeLeon Street so that vegetation can be planted there later this spring.

Any and all are encouraged to ‘pitch-in’ as workloads should be fairly light. Gloves, shovels, rakes/brooms and other such implements are welcome. We’ll kick off around 9am–weather permitting–and expect to be there around 2-3 hours.

Please reach out to with any questions and to notify us if you plan on being able to help. Thanks in advance.


Lighting and Plumbing Improvements Continue at John Howell Park

20150307_122713The progress that the City of Atlanta Parks Department has made at restoring the lighting in John Howell Park is increasingly visible (pun intended). The park’s interior lights have been substantively rewired and many globes have been replaced, so the odd amalgam of three different bulb styles is now almost uniform. Remaining on the to-do list are several park lamps along Virginia Avenue, where street lights offer some help in the meantime.

Each fixture has displayed any (and sometimes several) different challenges, but Parks Department electricians – like those pictured here – have worked through them systematically.

20150212_153120Fans of the perpetually leaky faucet along Virginia Avenue (there are some, and your Parks Committee is grateful for your vigilance; it takes a village of eyes…) will notice that the supply pipes and faucet there have been dug up and replaced, and new concrete footing has been poured.

We appreciate all the department’s work to keep our park safe and available for our use.


John Howell Park Construction Nears Completion

IMG_0021By: David Brandenberger and Jack White, VHCA Parks Committee

The construction activity at the western end of John Howell Park is almost complete. The new granite walls on three sides of the volleyball courts are finished, new columns have been built along Virginia, and the steps that lead to the courts from the street along Arcadia are done. The path connecting the sidewalk to the new plaza is finished.

IMG_0020We await the new wrought iron fences around the court and along Virginia; they will be offset sufficiently to allow room to sit along the inside. The same contractor will install a new railing on the Arcadia steps. New hollies (refugees from Ponce City Market) have been planted; more landscaping in this area will follow during this dormant season and beyond.

IMG_0024A couple of minor issues are as yet unresolved. That said – and a few enlightening and amusing episodes notwithstanding – the entire process has proceeded fairly well. Much of the credit for that goes to our extremely capable landscape architect (and the park’s original designer), Peter Frawley, who has been steady and calm even amidst occasional chaos. Park Pride is paying for half our expenses on this project; without them the project would not have been possible.The city’s Parks Department has donated the fences along Arcadia, which is a huge help; Parks Commissioner Doug Voss has been a constant supporter.

IMG_0018We expect the fences to be installed in December, and we look forward to a formal dedication ceremony this spring.


Volunteers Make a Difference at John Howell Park

The VHCA would like to thank Park Pride and MSL Group for providing 20+ volunteers who spent last Friday morning sprucing up parts of John Howell Park.

These awesome volunteers mulched around the plants along Virginia Ave., sanded a bench near the Phoenix Flies statue in the middle of park and pitched in to help complete an erosion control project between the eastern and central sections of the park. The volunteers – who work for Midtown PR firm MSL Group and were coordinated by Park Pride – went the extra mile in helping improve VaHi’s largest park and we really appreciate their time and efforts.

Thanks again to Park Pride, PP’s volunteer manager John Ahern and the generous, hard-working team from MSL Group!

Scroll down for some photos of the group hard at work last Friday morning.

Volunteers get their assignments and initial instructions from Park Pride's John Ahern.

Volunteers get their assignments and initial instructions from Park Pride’s John Ahern.

The VHCA's Jack White provides instruction on the fine art of bench sanding while David Brandenberger talks erosions control with volunteers.

The VHCA’s Jack White provides instruction on the fine art of bench sanding while David Brendengerger talks erosion control with volunteers.


We love mulching!!

We love mulching!!

We love sanding benches!!

We love sanding benches!!


Working on the goat path...

Working on the goat path…

Jack White supervising construction of the non-stairway that will eventually bear his name. Well, not really...

Jack White supervising construction of the non-stairway that will eventually bear his name. Well, not really…

Thanks for the help, MSL Group!

Thanks for the help, MSL Group!

What was once a goat path is now an erosion control zone!

What was once a goat path is now an erosion control zone!


That bench is looking fine!!

That bench is looking fine!!


Anyone else love John Howell Park??

Mulching along Virginia Ave.

Mulching along Virginia Ave.


The bench after staining.

The bench after staining.














Work Commences on John Howell Park Renovation

By: The VHCA Parks Committee (John Becker, David Brandenberger, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Colleen Lysen, and Jack White)

IMG_6321Contractor Hutcheson Horticultural has begun the renovation of the western end of John Howell Park. The project will substantially alter the look of the park along Arcadia Avenue opposite Inman Middle School; new granite sitting walls topped by black steel fencing that matches that at the school will replace the rusting galvanized chain link and sandbags (now, sadly, gone forever.) The walls will stop the migration of sand down the street and into the sewer system; smaller versions of them on the courts’ eastern edge will provide both seating and more formally separate the competition area from the playground. Entrance steps will offer access from Arcadia; on that street’s corner with Virginia, a new plaza will house the park’s sign and offer a gathering place for the Inman students who sometimes wait there for late pickup.

The westernmost court will be moved slightly toward Virginia, providing more room for additional landscaping, which will be installed on three sides of that court. The new fencing and landscaping along Virginia Avenue will run between the granite memorials that mark the sites of homes demolished in the Georgia Highway Department’s unsuccessful late 60’s attempt to run an interstate extension through the area. The memorial columns themselves will be raised slightly in the process.

DSC_0008The project will cost a little more than $100,000 overall, with about half paid by the VHCA and the other half by a matching grant from Park Pride, to whom we are deeply grateful. The City of Atlanta Parks Department and the volleyball association are also contributors; Trees Atlanta has pledged trees and planting assistance. Peter Frawley – John Howell Park’s original designer – did the landscape architecture and was a stalwart at every stage.

Only partly deterred by the sobering and exhausting firsthand experiences associated with acquiring a building permit on public property – which were eye-opening in a way that made you want to close them – the Parks Committee is really excited to see this work underway and looks forward to seeing it progress. If the weather and construction gods are kind, the granite walls will be substantially complete by the time school starts, and the remainder of the work will be done in time for some early dormant season planting.

Click here for a July 2012 Voice article that provides the vision for the current project. Click here for a firsthand look at the plans.


John Howell Park and Triangle Island Showcase Summer Color, New Plants

IMG_6321Has anyone else noticed the summer color exploding at the triangle island, and the wonderful new plants that have been installed at John Howell Park?

IMG_6344Thanks to the efforts of Nonie Daniels (landscape design and installation), Anthony DeVingo (weekly maintenance) and resident volunteers, the triangle island in front of Taco Mac and Murphy’s is looking great with lots of summer color coming out. Click here to read about the recent volunteer planting event that paved the way for what we’re enjoying now and will for weeks to come.

IMG_6341And special thanks to Walter Bland and crew for working hard to install many new plants at John Howell Park in the days leading up to Summerfest. There’s plenty of summer color to see around the JHP sign at Virginia and Barnett and new clusters of plants throughout the park.

Special thanks also to Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation employee Charles Hutchinson who spearheaded a comprehensive department effort to address the overhead lighting challenges that have plagued John Howell Park for so long. Thanks to Hutchinson and his crew, you should find it safer now to take a walk through the park during evening or nighttime hours.

Click here for an album of photos showing the new plantings at both locations.

Looking good, VaHi!!


Battle of the Burgers Returns to John Howell Park This Saturday

2013-Logo-78wThe fourth annual Battle of the Burgers returns to John Howell Park this Saturday October 12 from 11 AM – 6 PM. The event features a Best Burger in Atlanta contest in which up to 25 purveyors of fine burgers will compete, including local entrants American Roadhouse, Murphy’s, Highland Tap and Taco Mac.

The event is hosted by Embraced, a local non-profit organization. General admission tickets are available for $25 in advance, $35 at the gate. VIP tickets are $50 in advance, $60 at the gate.

There will also be a 5K road race that starts and ends in John Howell park starting at 9 AM Saturday morning.

For more information on the burger cook-off (including a complete list of participating restaurants) and the road race (including a map of the course route), click here. Advance tickets may also be purchased through this site.


A Little TLC for JHP

IMG_5347Work that was done last week and continues this week at John Howell Park – and much more that’s planned for later this fall and winter and next spring – is part of a process that began in 2012 with the goal of restoring the major horticultural elements included in the original plan developed by landscape architect Peter Frawley at the turn of the century. An absence of maintenance in the last half of the previous decade had allowed a huge influx of invasive plants and a marked increase in erosion in many areas. Frawley, the VHCA Parks Committee, and VHCA landscaping consultant Walter Bland of Rock Spring Farm laid out a plan last year that envisions a series of timed responses to all these challenges. Last year a large number of volunteer and arbitrary plantings were removed, bamboo around the playground was significantly eradicated, definition was restored to many of the landscaped areas, benches were sanded and cleaned, some new plants were installed, and a number of minor infrastructure repairs were made. Repairs to damaged grass were begun, particularly on the Ellipse (the Barnett end) and on the Great Lawn.

DSC_0003This summer’s abundant rainfall helped the grasses fill in nicely, but it also led to an abundance of weed growth and made it difficult to do other scheduled tasks until things dried out. Last week a massive amount of weeding and invasive plant reduction was done on the hillside between the upper and lower levels, new plantings were added to the Virginia Avenue slopes (more will follow in time) and in spots around the playgrounds, and more liriope – not always loved, but always practical – was installed in and around the John Howell Memorial (the black sculpture near the park’s center) to help frame it as Frawley intended. Alert park viewers will also spot related less dramatic changes, as well as the erosion challenges that remain on the south side of the upper level. While there’s no inexpensive or non-labor intensive solution for those pieces, some mitigation will occur this fall and winter.

DSC_0010Last year’s other significant accomplishment – securing a matching grant from Park Pride for a major renovation in and around the volleyball courts – will yield visible results in the coming seasons. The sandbags will vanish, and new granite sitting walls and more attractive fencing will be installed.  More plantings and other changes will follow; the outcomes will be functional, aesthetic, and yield a lot less erosion. These plans may be viewed on the VHCA website by clicking here.

All of these projects were approached with an assumption of substantial future use and a goal of practical maintenance. Parks that are as loved and heavily utilized as John Howell will always need attention and will always show the impacts of their popularity. Both Frawley and Bland remain optimistic that the designs are solid and functional and that the new changes will blend in well and help redress some of the park’s existing challenges. We think so too; we look forward to finding out.

Click here to see a photo album of the recent improvements.


John Howell Park Receives $1,000 “Love Your Block” Grant

IMG_0846The Friends of John Howell Park group is currently partnering with the City of Atlanta and Hands On Atlanta in a city-led impact service initiative, “Love Your Block,” where residents are encouraged to participate in beautification projects and programs specific to their community.

With the support of Home Depot and UPS Foundations, the VHCA has received a $1,000 grant that will go towards making improvements at John Howell Park. More information will come about a volunteer work day in the fall where we will put these funds to good use.


Buy a VaHi Map Print and Support John Howell Park

The Great Frame Up and the Virginia-Highland Civic Association are partnering to help raise funds for improvements at John Howell Park, the 2.8 acre park at the geographic heart of the Virginia-Highland neighborhood.

The Great Frame Up, located at 1409 N. Highland Avenue, has commissioned City Prints Map Art, creators of fine art map prints, to create a beautiful map print of the Virginia-Highland area. Prints are on sale now exclusively at The Great Frame Up. Cost is $40 with optional custom matting and framing available. For even more value, the Great Frame Up is also currently offering a 30% discount coupon on frame moulding with every custom framing order.

50% of print sale proceeds will go toward planned improvements at John Howell Park. Click here for more information on John Howell Park, including a recently awarded $50,000 grant from Park Pride that will also help fund the planned improvements.

Click here to visit The Great Frame Up website for more information and to print out the 30% discount coupon.


John Howell Park Gets $50K Grant for Improvements

Park Pride announced last month it was awarding a $50,000 matching funds grant to the Friends of John Howell Park for improvements to the west side of the park, including the volleyball courts and sidewalk. The project will take place over the next year and a half. The Friends of John Howell group will begin fundraising efforts immediately to raise the remainder of the funds needed to match the grant. If you are interested in getting involved with the Friends of John Howell Park group please email us at

Click here for a Patch article with more information on the grant.


Kidical Mass Comes to VaHi

The 4th Kidical Mass Atlanta, sponsored by the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the Sopo Bicycle Coop, is coming to John Howell Park on Saturday, November 10th at 10:00 a.m.

Kidical Mass is a family-friendly, law-abiding bike ride. The purpose is to teach kids, parents and caregivers safety skills and provide a ride in which to practice them. Organizers from the Sopo Bicycle Co-op and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition hope to build awareness of the growing presence of kids and families on bikes, as well as the need for all road users to respect others. Kidical Mass brings together families who bike to build a supportive bicycling community. Kidical Mass rides are comfortable for families just starting out and biking on city streets for the first time but don’t completely avoid traffic.  There is safety in numbers, not just on a group ride like this but also in the day to day world of riding in the city.  This ride helps families experience that comfort, and hopes participants will grow to incorporate biking into their transportation menus in the future.

The first ride in May 2011 was a hit, with 60 children and family members biking about 2 miles from Oakhurst to Downtown Decatur. Neighborhood residents on their porches fired up cell phones to photograph and film the “kidical” riders, who ranged widely in age, from toddlers on their parents’ bikes to older children and teens.

The Virginia-Highland neighborhood Kidical Mass will start at 10:00 a.m. at John Howell Park, at the corner of Virginia Ave and Barnett St. The ride will be a 1 to 2 mile slow-paced, family-friendly social ride. The route will combine residential and connector streets to raise awareness. No road closures are planned for the event.

This is a very slow-paced ride (avg. 1-10 mph). Riders are encouraged to share the fun by ringing bells, bringing noise makers, and waving to all. All types of bikes, trailers, trail-a-bikes, Xtracycles, longtails, bakfiets, long johns, tandems, folders, trikes, and whatever rolls are welcome. Organizers will give away Kidical Mass spoke cards andstickers  at the ride start location at  9:30 a.m as the group gathers.

By law in Georgia, all children 16 and under must wear a helmet.  Parents and caregivers are strongly encouraged to model that behavior as well as safe riding practices. The ride will stop as many times as necessary to make sure the group stays together. Streets will not be closed. Riders can join or leave the group at any point.

Guidelines for participants include personal responsibility (obey traffic laws and no group movements through stop signs and traffic lights), and parental responsibility for their own children by being aware of their location at all times.

Additional volunteers are welcome – to get involved, volunteer, or ask questions email

Kidical Mass Atlanta information is available at and, or visit to learn more about this national initiative.


Landscape Architect Tour of Proposed Changes to John Howell Park

See the article about proposed improvements and maintenance to John Howell Park,

“FOCUS ON JOHN HOWELL PARK: Comments Solicited For Proposed Improvements”

Peter Frawley

Landscape architect Peter Frawley will conduct walking tours at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 18th, and Monday, July 23rd.

Parks Co-Chairs Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White will conduct tours at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, July 31st and 9 AM on Saturday, August 4th..  Please come to those if you are interested.  You may also write us at


Focus on John Howell Park

Comments Solicited for Proposed Improvements

It has been a busy and productive year on the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Parks Committee.  Forming a new committee, coordinating with the City Parks Department, addressing challenges at the corner of Virginia and N. Highland, and doing a long-overdue comprehensive analysis of what was working and not working at John Howell Park have made for a very active spring and summer.  In each of these efforts, we’ve had tremendous support from a variety of volunteers – experienced and new – and professionals. We’re excited to report on what’s been done thus far and what lies in front of us, and we need your ideas, thoughts, and support, particularly at John Howell Park.

The year began in winter with the establishment of a new committee – John Becker, Lauren Wilkes Fralick, Laura Voisinet, and Jack White – and the repair of a half-dozen damaged benches in the Streetscape near our namesake intersection.  Several benches there had lost a significant number of slats from their back frames, and several more were about to do the same.  One of the causes was a mortise and tendon joint that could have been stronger.  The bench manufacturer shared our disappointment that the benches’ strength was less than expected and provided new backs at cost and additional metal braces for free.  Those were installed, but as an extra measure of support, the craftsman making the repairs – Gary Jones, recommended to us by the woodworking crew at Highland Hardware – added new reinforcement strips along the backs of all the benches and the fronts of several others in high-use locations.  The results have been excellent so far; the new backs will soon age to grey to match the original parts, this design is significantly stronger than the original, and the cost of bringing every bench up to this standard was less than the price of even three new benches.  The visual and functional improvements were obvious, and feedback and results thus far has been excellent.

Of course, no design will withstand deliberate abuse, so if you see any such behaviors, please call the police and let us know.

An even more dramatic change at this same corner was VaHi resident Nonie Daniel’s design and supervised volunteer installation of a planting in the Triangle in front of Taco Mac’s, in and around the Virginia-Highland sign.  Nonie is a longtime resident of the neighborhood; her professional landscaping skills have been on display for many years at the corner of Hudson and Lanier.  At the Triangle she created a lovely mix of perennials and annuals, with a lot of different colors and textures and led an enthusiastically-supported planting effort and a carefully-monitored ongoing watering plan.  This formerly drab space is now lovely and peaceful-looking.  There will be additional work there this fall; like all successful planting sites – especially public ones – ongoing maintenance is part of the project.

It would be easy to underplay the importance of Nonie’s establishing a support team of volunteers who are invested in the work at the Triangle and provide a host of eyes upon the results.  This model has been wildly successful over the last decade at Orme Park, where a vigilant and enduring band of neighbors and enthusiasts have been instrumental in the redesign and remaking of that park.  That sort of organized support is critical to the success of neighborhood parks; helping that happen in all our public spaces is a major goal of the new Parks Committee.

With Orme functioning well and the Triangle humming along under Nonie’s direction, the preponderance of our effort has been directed to John Howell – which is appropriate, because (as several citizens have pointed out, in thoughtful detail), it needed it.  This park holds a special place in this neighborhood’s heart and history.  It sits upon land redeemed from the successful early 70’s highway fight that saved and defined this community.  (The VHCA was created specifically 40 years ago to fight the road.)   It is named for and is a tribute to the vision and courage of neighborhood resident (and VHCA President) John Howell, whose early work in leading and establishing the fight against AIDS made him a revered figure far beyond the boundaries of this city.   And it’s the site of the Cunard Playground, which memorializes the three members of that Virginia-Highland family who were killed in a tragic accident nearly a decade ago.

Constructed on two levels, it is our largest and most-visited park; its lower half contains two separate playgrounds, two volleyball courts (that also serve as the city’s largest children’s sandboxes when not used for sport), two small grassy areas, and winding walkways.  The upper half (the part nearer Barnett) was designed with lawns and larger open areas to allow assemblies and quieter sitting and strolling spaces away from the oft-busier and noisier lower one.

The neighborhood and civic association put a huge amount of effort and money into establishing the park, but very little has been spent there for the last half-decade, with obvious and painful results.  The Parks Committee began by repeatedly walking through and talking to users about what they liked and didn’t, what they’d change, and – curiously – where they were from.  All the responses were informative and interesting; we met tons of neighbors and folks we knew, but we were also surprised by the number of people that travel from distant neighborhoods to play there and the variety of distinct groups that use the area at different times and days.  The enthusiasm for the park displayed by lots of people and ages was fortifying and great to hear.

And we needed to hear it, because the more time we spent with citizens, potential contractors and landscape professionals, the longer the list of challenges became.  It included – take a deep breath – the need for long overdue pruning of the original plantings, the removal of numerous invasives and volunteer-installed plants (some in odd and inappropriate locations), the need to stabilize and replace several sections of fence, address broken light globes, replace missing bricks, clean and sand benches covered with mold, repurpose a granite box that once served as a sandbox but had become a litter box, fix eroding and unplanted banks along Virginia, re-establish grassy areas that had not been fertilized or aerated for years and were filled with a variety of weeds, mulch trees and plantings, and address the highly-visible challenge of either re-planting –  or changing to a path – an eroding gully functioning as a dry-weather connection between the two levels.

Around the volleyball courts, there are more challenges.   Sand spilling unchecked from the courts onto Arcadia makes planting on that side impossible; the same situation exists at the back of the first court, where sand migrates freely up to and through the fence.   Also problematic is the absence of good delineation between the volleyball courts and the adjacent playground; children not infrequently are on the volleyball side of the granite wall and bumpers during warm-up and play, a situation that makes no one happy.

We found good news, too – lots of supportive citizens willing to volunteer time and money, and knowledgeable contractors (even the ones we didn’t wind up using) who thought the park was fundamentally beautiful and offered useful suggestions.  The City of Atlanta Parks Department is and has been helpful and enthusiastic, even though we and they wish that their overall budget – particularly on infrastructure issues like leaky water lines and electrical work – was larger. Their maintenance crews have been thoughtful and communicated well with us.  Challenges abound and will continue, but their effort – particularly at carefully not cutting the grass so low – has been great.  The Parks Director, Doug Voss, and Design Director, Paul Taylor, could not have been more supportive.

Another key partner in this area has been Volleyball Atlanta, the group that built and has maintained the courts from day one.  Reconnecting with them was critical to make sure that any changes meet their needs and in having them as a partner in fundraising for work on that end of the park.   Lauren Wilkes Fralick has spent a huge amount of time on this, with excellent results.

Our contractor, Walter Bland of Rock Springs Farm, is a knowledgeable and experienced professional with particular expertise in native plants and horticulture.  His crews have done an excellent job reacting to unexpected challenges under variable conditions.

Quarterbacking all this has been the park’s original landscape architect, Peter Frawley, who lives nearby and is also the designer at New Highland Park.  Peter’s knowledge of the park’s original design goals has been a key in this, both in contemplating solutions and in evaluating and validating the priorities and perspectives offered by various contractors.

Here’s the way we approached it.  With Peter and Walter’s guidance, we divided the list into short-term and long-term projects.  We first addressed as many as possible of what we identified as park ‘quality of life’ issues: pruning, mulching (still underway, as fast as the city can get chips to the park), relocating maverick plantings, sanding, sealing, and cleaning benches (still underway, with some easily visible results), fixing broken bricks and undercut sidewalks and the worst sections of fence (nothing easy about it), removing invasive plants, and planting the littered and abandoned planter.  We also aerated, fertilized, and removed weeds from the grassy areas, to see and support what useable lawn was still there, and to set the stage and to define the scope of what we needed to do on the lawns this fall.

While these efforts to protect and enhance John Howell’s existing features (planted and built) have been underway, the Parks Committee has been working with Peter and Volleyball Atlanta on some potential solutions to the long-range challenges.  They do not represent any fundamental changes to the park’s original master plan, but some of them will be noticeable, particularly around the volleyball court.  The city is very much in the loop; all of the ideas – there are likely to be more as we hear from more users – have been vetted through the Parks Department.  We didn’t want to spend time discussing ideas in the neighborhood only to discover later that Parks had objections.  They had some useful comments, but are fine with the concepts.

A more detailed plan view of them is available on the web site here:

And here’s a brief summary of the more notable changes:

Around the volleyball courts and along Arcadia:

1.      Need:  Sand spilling off the court through the fence onto Arcadia, making planting impossible and smothering trees.

2.      Need: Sand spilling off the rear of the court onto the walkway, making planting impossible.

Response:  Move the court nearest Arcadia 10’ toward Virginia Avenue. Remove the existing fence and ugly sandbags and replace with a u-shaped granite sitting wall around 3 sides of the court nearest Arcadia, with a new fence atop it.  The granite wall will contain the sand; plantings can be installed behind them.  The new fence will be about 18’ from the curb on Arcadia; there should be room for plantings and a new sidewalk connecting to Virginia Avenue, if we want that.  The new fence atop the wall (with the same net currently in use) will contain more volleyballs.

3.      Need:  There is insufficient separation between the volleyball courts and playground.

Response:  Extend the existing granite wall on both ends; install appropriate plantings around the existing light pole, for shade and delineation purposes.  When the courts are empty, children can still walk around the extended wall to access the sand, but the break between the two areas will be clearer.  An additional new sandbox can be installed on the lightly-trafficked piece of the playground walkway on the end nearest Virginia, if desired.

4.      Need:  A second fence along Virginia to catch errant volleyballs that clear the first fence and go into traffic.  There’s room for the fence, but the JHP sign would be behind it.

Response: Peter had suggested moving that sign in any case, and Parks Department concurs. Install a new wrought iron fence to match the once across the street at Inman between the easing columns.  Raise those columns slightly, if needed.  Move the sign toward the now more-spacious corner, where it will be more visible and can be part of a design that includes a formal planting of annuals and perennials to match a similar planned for the Barnett corner.

5.      Need: The upper-level banks above the sidewalk along Virginia Ave. are barely planted and often used as a pedestrian shortcut.  It’s hard to keep mulch or pine straw there; when events are held, those doing set-up and teardown often use the hillsides instead of the walkways.

Response: Install low granite curbs along the sidewalks to hold the soil, and plant appropriately.  Monitor access during growth and events until the plantings are established.  A wrought iron fence would work too, even a low one.

6.      Need:  The upper level walkway is partly bricked and partly not.

Response: Sell and install inscribed bricks there, bringing closure to a project initiated a decade ago and giving another generation of citizens a chance to be memorialized in the park.

7.      Need:  There’s an eroding gully between the upper and lower level that conveys water and silt in rainstorms and is frequently used as a shortcut, though it can be slippery and tough to walk on.

Response: Citizens appear to be voting with their feet for a pedestrian connection here, and many interviewed users were supportive of the option.  Install granite steps; connect them to the existing upper walkway via stepping stones amidst low plantings that will absorb flows.  Plant the areas along the sidewalk to absorb water there too.

There are other contemplated changes; these are the major ones, at least in our view.  The VHCA web site will have detailed pdfs; links will be readily visible on our home page.  There are many ways you can provide input.  Landscape architect Peter Frawley will conduct walking tours at 7 PM on Wednesday, July 18th, and Monday, July 23rd.  Parks Co-Chairs Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White will conduct tours at 7:30 AM on Tuesday, July 31st and 9 AM on Saturday, August 4th..  Please come to those if you are interested.  You may also write us at  If none of those times work for you, let us know.  We’re there a lot, and we’ll find a time to meet you.

Your thoughts and concerns are welcome.  These ideas are a synthesis of many different observations and ideas, but they are very much notset in stone.   Please let us hear from you – what you like and what you don’t, and your new ideas.

“What might all this cost, who will pay for it, when might it happen?”

Good questions, every one.  Obviously final costs will depend on whatever plan is adopted.  Costs vary with fits and finishes; there are some variables there, but the broad conceptual criteria were that the proposed changes address the known problems, were practical, needs as little maintenance as possible, and were consistent with the park’s overall standards.  We went through a similar process at Orme and approved a plan with much broader changes than those currently on the table here without a specific notions of how we’d pay for it; then we costed it (with some options) and went out in search of grants to support it, did fundraising internally, and asked for help from other groups.  Some of these solutions stand alone and can be sequentially; some are closely-related and need to be done together.

Searching for specific support requires an approved plan; until you have one, we’re still talking.  We think it’s all doable, as it proved to be at Orme.  For openers, we’ll look to our colleagues at Park Pride for grant opportunities, possibly as early as this fall if we’re ready; perhaps we can be.  Volleyball Atlanta will be going through similar processes to raise money for their part of the changes around the courts.

Many grants require matching funds; we’re hoping that twixt all these parties and citizen volunteers, we can bring some good grant applications with substantive support to the table.

Please write us:

For the Parks Committee,

Lauren Wilkes Fralick and Jack White


John Howell Park "walkaround" 3/10/12 @2PM

The Virginia-Highland Civic Association Parks Committee has been talking to a variety of local citizens, park users, and landscape designers about improvements to the park, and we’d like to hear what you think. Please join us Saturday March 10 at 2 PM for a walk around the park and help develop a plan for what the park needs. If you can’t make it tomorrow, there will be other chances, and you can also write us at

Lauren Fralick & Jack White
Friends of John Howell Park


Our Neighborhood Middle and High School Students

I just recently have had some e-mails and phone conversations with some folks concerned about activities in the Cunard playground area of John Howell Park and under the bridge at Orme Park. A couple of other neighborhood folks and myself will be having a brain-storming session with Dr. Bockman at Inman School soon – so if you have stories or suggested solutions – let me know at Graffiti is only part of the problem here.


Graffiti in Cunard Playground in John Howell Park

In case you have not seen the disgusting graffiti in the Cunard playground are of John Howell Park – it has been reported to parks department for removal. I also took pix and sent them to APD’s gang unit to see if they have any gang relationship. I also heard that Grady High School had a lot of graffiti this past weekend – but it has been removed. It has been suggested that we have a standing committee of graffiti removers to counteract future and current displays. Let me know if you are interested in keeping this type of vandalism out of VaHi – before it becomes a real big problem here. Let me know if you would like to serve as the need arises – if we had a half-dozen or so folks available I think we could keep abreast of infestations. I can get supplies from Keep Atlanta Beautiful.


Voice – Winter 2004

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– Find out how the Joneses live and support your community (Tour of Homes)
– Civic Association award more than $40,000 to local organizations
– Letter from the President, by Kevin Cronin (opposing Piedmont Park parking deck)
– Orme Park drainage problems to be addressed
– MARTA oughta to be smarta, by Chip Gallagher
– Tour of Homes 2004 (description and picture of each picture)
This could be you: sad shamed and sued, by Chip Gallagher
– Five taxi stands should reduce traffic problems
– Civic association offers funds for off-duty police patrols, by Jean Ellen Jones
– The Good Neighbor (portrait of Cynthia Gentry, who led efforts to build Cunard playground at John Howell Park), by Nonie Daniel
– The Highland Hoer: Time for outdoor cleanup, by John Wolfinger
– Community survey form


Grand opening of the Cunard Memorial Playground

Sunday, March 28th at 2pm: Opening Ceremonies (rain or shine), 2-5 pm

Join us for the Grand Opening Ceremonies of the Cunard Memorial Playground. We’ll have a few words from Mayor Shirley Franklin, Councilwoman Ann Fauver, Commissioner of Parks Dianne Harnell Cohen, a special presentation to Brad Cunard, and the unveiling of the Cunard Memorial. Then there will be music, food, balloons, fun, surprises, and ice cream!

Background: On July 10, 2003, the Virginia-Highland community was shocked by the sudden loss of three neighbors – Lisa Cunard and her two sons, Max, 3, and Owen, 5-months-old – when a tree fell on their car during a storm. Brad Cunard was driving the car and he survived, but was left with the devastating loss of his wife and sons. Neighbors, friends and loved ones have rallied around Brad offering love and support, and are now paying tribute to the loss by opening the memorial playground in John Howell Park, for which they helped raised more than $150,000 to build.

(photo missing)

Brad is in photo with Cynthia Gentry, who headed the playground committee, at the November 15, 2003 installation day.

Saturday, March 27th:
Park clean-up day:
10am-12noon: Kids’ Clean up
1-4pm: Adults Clean up

Help clean up the park to get it ready for the big day. The committee is encouraging neighbors who would like to help to sign up in advance at, especially if you’re bringing a group, but it is not mandatory. Feel free to bring along rakes and brooms. We’ll have some, but could always use more.

The children will be there from 10am until noon, with ice cream served at noon. They will be picking up sticks, washing the playground equipment, sweeping, raking, pouring new sand in the sand box, unpacking sandbox toys, etc. We will welcome all ages. All children must have an adult that is responsible for them; i.e. no drop-offs. The adults will work that afternoon from 1 until around 4. (They get ice cream, too.)

For more information, please contact Cynthia Gentry by email at, 404.853.4878 or leave a message at 404.222.8244. Contributions to the playground are still encouraged and can be made payable to “Park Pride,” and please write “for Cunard Memorial Playground” on the memo line. Mail checks to the Virginia-Highland Civic Association, P.O. Box 8401, Station F, Atlanta, Ga., 31106.


We did it! — Cunard Playground

We did it! Thanks for everyone’s sweat and tears on Saturday! We had over 400 volunteers help us install the playground equipment, plant the Cunard Memorial Garden, and beautify John Howell Park. Volunteers came from as far away as Seattle, Washington and from Canton, Marietta and Flowery Branch, too! We were especially touched to have Brad’s family come from Monticello and Lisa’s brother from North Carolina.

Each volunteer put his or her whole heart and soul into the assigned tasks and truly made a difference. We know that Brad sends his thanks and appreciation for everyone’s contribution to the project.

We especially would like to thank all of the business that either donated materials, food or goods for our build day. (We’re still compiling the list of generous contributors!)

Virginia-Highland is a great neighborhood and we thank each of you for making it even better!

We look forward to seeing you at the Opening Ceremonies in March 2004 (date to be determined) and at Summerfest on June 5th and 6th !

Kevin Cronin
VHCA President

Cynthia Gentry
Cunard Memorial Playground Chair


Voice – Winter 2003

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– Build a playground at John Howell Park
– Meet your new board of directors (bios)
– Dramatic transformation of Piedmont Park continues with the help of VHCA challenge grant
– Public menorah lighting, by Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman
– President’s address, by Kevin Cronin (Summerfest funds raised; $46K in grants to neighborhood)
– Highland Hoer: Gardening in Virginia-Highland has come a long way since the ’70s, by John Wolfinger


Voice – Spring 2002

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– VHCA unveils new web site for the new year and years to come, by Gina Davis
– PEDS update, by billie jo
– Summerfest committee introduces new chair of the Summerfest Artists’ Market, by P.K. Trettel
– President’s Address
– Ask Officer Dave
– Intown Women’s Group to host charity fundraiser, by Laurie Dugoniths
– Taking care of the trees in your neighborhood, by Kenyetta Lindsey
– Fire Station #19 dedicated new state of the art engine, by Jenn Ballentine
– THe history and future of John Howell Park, by Stephanie Coffin
– Taste great, less filling: population density and Virginia Highland in context, by Chip Gallagher
– The Highland Ho-er by John Wolfinger
– Fight Back Against Crime, by Beth Marks


Voice – Winter 1995

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– VHCA Goals
– President’s Corner: Entertainment complex at site of Colgate Mattress warehouse remanded to BZA
– Profiles on 1995-96 board members
– Biking to the Olympics, by Dennis Hoffarth
– Tree News, by Stephanie Coffin, Parks co-chair
– Survey form: change in the Voice?
– Recycling pays off, by Nan Hunter
– Col. Mustard reviews Chow (1026 1/2 N. Highland) and Dark Horse Tavern
– Green with energy (how to decrease exposure to indoor pollutants), by Sarah Tomaka
John Howell Park project: Felix deWeldon (who designed Washington, D.C.’s Iwo Jima Memorial) has donated design for sculpture “HOPE (International AIDS Monument)”


Voice – Fall 1995

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– Summerfest ’95
President’s Corner: city Zoning board did not issue exceptions to Cartel Properties to build a 27,000 ft2, 2000-patron restaurant/entertainment complex, the largest in the city, on the site of the Colgate Mattress warehouse at 712 Ponce de Leon Place. Access was only via 2-lane Ponce Place and parking would be all-valet with only 3 spaces on-site.
– Tips from the trade (review of Kliphph Where? clothing store)
John Howell Park Project: playground is finished! Outwrite Bookstore donates $3000 earned from Greg Louganis book signing event.
– Tree news: new tree ordinance protecting trees takes effect
– School roundup
– Finally, an intown farmer’s market
– Environmental potpourri
– Col. Mustard reviews St. Charles Deli
– Green with energy (weatherization tips), by Sarah Tomaka
Summerfest 1995 photos (2 pages)


Voice – Summer 1995

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– Showtime again, Summerfest ’95 just around the corner, by Deborah Cox
– Many thanks, Steve Jagger (profile of Steve Jagger) by Debbie Skoczynski
– President’s corner: Storage facility at Virginia and Kanuga turned down, permit vetoed for “Hilan Billiards” at 800 N. Highland
– Atkins Park thanks supporters of landscaping of gate area
– Bike Stuff by Mike Goodman
– Girl Scouts do more than sell cookies, by Roberta and Sarah McQuade
– Neighbors and city team up to clean up (Ponce at St. Charles)
– Environmental potpourri
– Col. Mustard reviews Harry and Sons
– Green with energy (tips to lower water use), by Sarah Tomaka
– John Howell Park project, by Tinka Green
– Easter egg hunt at John Howell Park, by Sunny Williams
– Ponce Coalition update, by Jett Marks
– VaHi tree planting continues, by Stephanie Coffin


Voice – Winter 1994

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Board members each answer 6 interview questions (J.D. Christy, Debbie Skopczynski, Winnie Currie, Tom Austin, Bruce Taylor, Arnold Gross, Amy Waterman, Steve Jaggers, Mary Jo Peed, Melanie Davenport, Paul Concannon)
– Everything you wanted to know about zoning but were afraid to ask, by Stephen Jagger and Debbie Skopczynski
– President’s Corner, by J.D. Christy
– Annual meeting seats new board, by Beth Marks
Photos from annual meeting
– Bike Stuff
– Environmental potpourri, by Nan Hunter
– Col. Mustard reviews Camille’s
– Happy (1st) birthday, Virginia-Highland Business Association
– Art supports A.I.D.S., by Shelley Scher
– Local group (CAUTION) makes a difference, by Shelley Scher
– School news
– Tips from the trade: Review of The Common Pond, which sold environmentally friendly products
– John Howell Park project, by Tinka Green
– Greening up for the gold, by Stephanie Coffin, co-chair Parks
– Letters of thanks from recipients of VHCA grants


Voice – Summer 1994

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– Summerfest time again
VaHi Security Patrol (neighborhood-wide) set to start July 1, only $150 per year, by Beth Marks
– Mayor Bill Campbell addresses growing VaHi Business Assn., by Susan Guerroro, VHBA president
– The times, they are a-changin’ (Superior Foods closes its doors), by Swan McKnight
– Green facelift planned for N. Highland, by Stephanie Coffin and Kathy Couch
– Summerfest volunteers confess they did it for fun, by Bryan Hendrix
– The Highland Herbalist: Basil
– Bike stuff, by the Bike Guy
– Col. Mustard reviews Savage Pizza
– John Howell Park update (photo: Commissioner Boxill congratulates VaHi), by Tinka Green
– Recycle today, by Nan Hunter


Voice – Spring 1994

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– Board action (Summerfest will be a fundraising even in June similar to last year’s), by Mary Jo Peed
– Highland Hardware, since 1978, by Deborah Cox
– Intown Bicycles moves
– VaHi Business Association, by Beth Marks
– FBAC update
– Recycle today, by Nan Hunter (Murphy’s goes totally non-smoking!)
– Bike trail news, by Mike Goodman
– Col. Mustard reviews Capo’s Café
– The Highland Herbalist: growing rosemary
-40 out of 4,000 (VaHi residents that belong to the VHCA), by Amy Waterman
-John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright
-First Union Grand Prix comes to VaHi, by Jett Marks
– Freedom Park master plan nears completion, by Jett Marks
– Crime statistics


Voice – Winter 1993

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the fate of Summerfest will be decided at the December VHCA meeting: Should we enlarge it, make it smaller? Should we move it from John Howell Park?
– Meet your new board (bios of all board members)
– Having a bad hair day? (Review of VaHi hari salons), by Deborah Cox
– Recycle today, by Nan Hunter
– “B.A.T.”, bicycle quiz by Mike Goodman
– John Howell Park Project (update) by Jerry Bright
– School news
– Shop for a good cause, Window to the World, Mennonite church shop opens


Voice – Fall 1993

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– Summerfest contest was a piece of art
– My home, my castle and my office (profile of residents who work at home), by Deborah Cox
– Crime down sharply in FBAC area
– More B.S. (that’s bike stuff), by Michael Goodman
– Col. Mustard reviews Red Light Café at Amsterdam Walk
Full text of updated VHCA bylaws
Olympic trees, going for the green. Profile of Stephanie Coffin and her tree planting. By Kathy Couch
– Recycle today, by Nan Hunter
– John Howell Park fundraising update, by Jerry Bright
– Kidsfest successful 3rd straight year
– By-laws committee completes its work


Voice – Summer 1993

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– Volunteers needed for Summerfest success
– Tim Shirley’s neighborhood outreach
– 911…operator this is an emergency (how to use 911), by Joyce Gross
– Keep your lights on (for safety), by Swan McKnight
– Buy a brick for John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright
A guide to buying art in VaHi (review of VaHi’s galleries), by Tinka Green
– Mike’s rules on buying a bicycle, by Michael Goodman
Col. Mustard reviews Fleeman’s Drugstore
– Help make our neighborhood beautiful
– Recycle today, by Nan Hunter
– Crime statistics
– Kidsfest ’92 (photo essay)
– A neighborhood-wide off-duty police patrol (will not happen for now), by Yvette Weatherly


Voice – Winter 1992

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– VHCA amends its bylaws
– Parking survey opinion
– Planning Summerfest ’93
– Get “street smart” about safe bicycling
– Officially speaking: Handgun control, by Mayor Maynard Jackson
– Recycle today: save your “waste”, by Nan Hunter
– Home sweet Virginia-Highland home: portrait of longtime residents, by Jeni Evans
– John Howell Park renovation plans still under review, by Jerry Bright
– Col. Mustard reviews Neighbors Pub
– You can HELP! (fight crime), by Joyce Gross
– Neighborhood profile: Inman Middle School, by Betty Wells and Joan Walters
– Neighbors join to protect our streets: how to get off-duty police patrol coverage for your block, by Yvette Weatherly
– Crime statistics
– Personal safety tips from Pro-Tech Security Systems
– Learn about composting
– Traffic islands get make-over by Kathy Couch
– Parking survey


Voice – Summer 1992

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Letter to the editor from Douglas W. Jones, president of the Ponce de Leon Corridor Association, urging action to oppose Grady Hospital from expanding onto Ponce
– Rep rap, by Rep. Jim Martin
– Reduce, reuse and recycle: participating streets, by Nan Hunter
– New parking committee comes to life, by Elmo Colburn
– Col. Mustard review of Mid City Fish
– Update on Murphy’s move, by Jeni Evans
Ponce Task Force focuses on reducing risk to investors, by Jett Marks, VaHi rep to PTF
Piedmont Park Conservancy by city councilmember Mary Davis
– John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright
– Plan to save your life in case of fire, by Ken Lavine
– School update
– Crime graphs and statistics
– Composting comes home, by Nan Hunter
– Summerfest ’92
– Danny’s Run 5K and fun run


Voice – Winter 1991

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– Christmas caroling in John Howell Park, by Jim Little
– VaHi shops are just right for the holidays, by Vicky Favorite
– Rep Rap by councilmember Mary Davis: proposed sewage facility at Piedmont Park
– Paideia fine arts and crafts show
– Recycle…because we have to: (Recycling is for Republicans too), by Nan Hunter
– Update on planning process for John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright
– Living AIDS Memorial Park project update, by Jim Little
– Better bicycling
– The newsletter needs you, by Beth Marks
– School news
– Holiday safety tips, by Ken Lavine, including this piece of advice: “If you drive a lot, or at night, install a car phone.”


Voice – Fall 1991

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– The taming of Piedmont Park – traffic and illegal activity around perimeter of park
– Piedmont Park’s combined sewer overflow controversy – the anatomy of a setback, by I. E. Saporta, architect
– Letter to the editor by Ruthie and Tom Penn-David in cautious support of Summerfest (and not “Drunkfest”)
– A day in the life of Orme Park, by Vicky Favorite and Yvonne Weatherly
– Summerfest opinion – residents and businesses speak out
– Adopted highway “Ponce” needs your help
– Moving right along with (John Howell Park) plans, by Jerry Bright
– Schools update
– What a weekend! Summerfest ’91. Over $2100 raised!
– Doing your share: recycling is so easy in VaHi, by Nan Hunter
– Carefree vacations, by Maggie Baron
– Library forced to reduce hours, services, by Kathy Couch
– The new YWCA offers relief, renewal, by Vicky Favorite
– Report to taxpayers on financial issues affecting the Atlanta Public Schools, by Joseph G. Martin, Jr., president
– Morningside PTA fundraiser has something for everyone, by Ginny Connelly
– Home Alone: Security for children with working parents, by Ken Lavine
– Better bicycling


Voice – Summer 1991

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– A VaHi Summerfest you won’t want to miss, by Nan Hunter
– Block watch, a success story, by Joyce Gross
– Letter to the editor from Anne Taylor Hendry in defense of services for the homeless on Ponce
– Ponce Task Force survey results
– Grady students speak out – poems and essays by Grady 9th and 10th graders
– Rep Rap by Fulton County commissioner Nancy Boxill: demolishing the Highland library, settling the Presidential Parkway, property reappraisal
– John Howell Park plans approved
– Who says it’s a piece of junk? Many of our contemporary icons are threatened. By Steve Jagger
– Neighbor profile: The VOICE staff. Jett and Beth Marks, Kala Marks, Kathy Couch, Nan Hunter, Sarah Tomaka, Jeni and Rob Evans, Mickey Lawson, Terry Tuley
– Helpful hints for the Highland homeowner: fire safety, by Virginia Temple
– First annual VHCA/Summerfest “Sweat” 5K Run and Family Run – 1 mile
– Recycling: why not add your stuff to the curbside pick-up brigade?, by Nan Hunter
– Liquor store at Ponce and Barnett closes
– Host a student from France! By Carol Sleeth


Voice – Winter 1990

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– Neighbor profile: Foot patrolman Officer Chris Clark, by Beth Marks
– Ponce de Leon task force to speak at December meeting
– Historic preservation presentation update, by Burn Sears
– Front porch living, by Yvette Weatherly
– Holiday entertaining like a pro, by Shelley Pedersen, director of catering at Murphy’s
– Historic designation – what is means to you
– John Howell Park update (by Jerry Bright) and events (by the L.A.M.P. project)
– Historic designation survey form
– Outline of City zoning preservation ordinance
– Council of Intown Neighborhoods and Schools (CINS), by Barbara Van Dyke
– Grady students to author VOICE articles
– Morningside Elementary volunteers
– Inman needs tutors too
– Recycling, it’s habit forming, by Nan Hunter
– The road that was almost built (Georgia 400/I-485), by Warren Pritchard with Charles Longley
– Building permits, by Steve Jagger
– Ponce de Leon Task Force gains momentum in reaching for a consensus
– Interview with Chief Eldrin Bell, by V. Evans
– Personal safety (reprinted from ProTech Security Systems newsletter)


Voice – Spring 1990

– Preservationists Karin Huebner (Urban Design Atlanta) and Ann Farrisee (Atlanta Preservation Center) to speak March 7th
– Profile of Nyna Gentry, chairman VHCA Preservation Committee and St. Charles Greenwood rep
– The VOICE says “Preservation”
– VaHi: Atlanta’s bungalow neighborhood, by Tim Crimmins
– More of everything at the new VaHi library, by Kathy Couch
– Support your neighborhood schools – CINS, by Barbara Van Dyke
– John Howell Park, by Jerry Bright: sidewalk replacement
– VaHi’s annual St. Patrick’s Day 5K Road Race
– Things are picking up (recycling), by Nan Hunter
– Volleyball, heads up!
– A letter from Rep. Jim Martin (on privacy, abortion, state budget)
– No parking? By Burn Sears
– Crime stats for VaHi (beat 610)

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Voice – Winter 1989

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– Adair Ave. residents led by Nan Hunter help raise awareness of recycling
– Voice starts publishing again after two year hiatus
– Council of Intown neighborhoods and schools (CINS), by Barbara Van Dyke
– First annual VaHi Christmas 5K run
– Update on John Howell Park: parkland dedicated, within City parks system, plan being developed
– Preserving VaHi’s character; possible historic district designation
– Wanted: nosy neighbors: neighborhood watch, SCGNA enters into PAC with police Zone
– Report from Highland View neighborhood watch


Voice – Year-end 1988

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– John Howell Park planning update
In memoriam: John Howell
Graphic (2 pages): John Howell Park plan

– 764-784 Ponce Place development to be limited to townhomes and condos, not high-density rental units
– YWCA coming to stie of Spanish Baptist Church
– Thanks to Sharon Bagby and Highland Hardware for revitalizing Triangle,
– Thanks to Shemin Nurseries for donating 10 cherry trees to park
– Virginia-Highland Designer Showhouse was held October 1988 at 1166 St. Charles Place, sponsored by TWIGS, benefiting VaHi Civic Fund and Egleston Hospital
– L.A.M.P. (Living AIDS Memorial Park) aims to develop a national shrine in John Howell Park, where memorial services can be conducted.


Voice – May 1973

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  • May 8 meeting
  • VHCA’s first birthday party to be held in June
  • Working together with Morningside to fight I-485
  • Home Improvements Committee
  • Planned neighborhood garage sale and art fair
  • Zoning help from GA Tech
  • Banners for restored homes
  • 1973 Tour of Homes
  • Groundbreaking for “Virginia Park 485”
  • Zoning committee
  • Enforcement of housing codes