Cub Scouts and VHCA Partner to Raise Awareness for Protecting Our Waterways

By Jess Windham and Jack White

Water quality starts in our own backyards, an important fact that Cub Scout Pack 17 learned more about on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Informed by our Virginia-Highland Master Plan project #1.7, VHCA teamed up with the Department of Watershed Management (DWM) and an energetic group of Scouts and Webelos to install stormwater medallions on the drains closest to our most visible indicators of our watersheds: Orme Creek at Orme Park and a tributary to South Fork Peachtree Creek at Lenox-Wildwood Park Garden Park in Morningside. Many thanks to the pack and wonderful parents who came out to support the initiative.

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The timing is ironic, as recently Orme Creek was polluted from a source at a higher elevation in the watershed. A diligent crew from the City’s DWM investigated the matter, including walking in the culvert that runs under Brookridge and spending many hours finding the cause of a stinky situation. For the full story, you can read more here (link

Why does it matter what gets into our local creeks?

The answer goes beyond the beauty and enjoyment that many local citizens derive from being near those streams. All natural systems are inter-related; the macroinvertebrates in the creek, the fish, the insects, the birds, the mammals – their mutual health depends on one another.

These tributaries and creeks flow far beyond our borders, carrying with them all our accumulated impacts. This is especially prescient as you consider that water isn’t created from scratch. Energy-intensive industrial processes are required to clean water so into a potable, drinkable form we all appreciate.    

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VaHi’s Subwatersheds

Virginia-Highland has two sub-watersheds, Rock Creek and Clear Creek; both eventually flow to Peachtree Creek and on to the Chattahoochee River and the Gulf of Mexico at Apalachicola Bay. Appropriately-named North ‘High-land’ Avenue is broadly the boundary between them. 

Rainfall to the east of Highland flows (either underground or via several patches of surface streams) into Rock Creek, which heads north into South Peachtree in Johnson-Taylor Park in Morningside. The very top of Rock Creek is visible behind the east side of Arlington Place and – more obviously – at Amsterdam Avenue and McLynn.

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Orme Creek starts to the west of Highland, as rainfall flows downhill to the west. However most of it is channeled underground, with only a few sections – like Orme Park – above ground.  The water then flows into Clear Creek, which itself emerges onto the surface at the northern edge of Piedmont Park on its way to Ansley Mall and the Golf Course, under I-85, along the border of Brookwood, and into Peachtree Creek west of the Piedmont Road bridge near Lindberg Drive. A trip to the South Fork Confluence Trail is truly worth the trip to see it firsthand.

Inside its namesake park, Orme Creek is easy to observe and approach. Its surface life (low volume, like Rock Creek) begins behind houses between LA Avenue (on the south) and Glen Arden (on the north.)  It collects some water from underground storm drains throughout the immediate neighborhood.


Reptile and Amphibian ‘Critter Camp’ at Friends School this Summer

Those of us who were there will never forget the look of wonder on the faces of the children who witnessed the release of the five baby snapping turtles into the Orme DSC_0272Park creek this spring. The turtles were five out of thirty who survived against the steepest of odds, thanks to the efforts of Mark Mandica, Amphibian Conservation Coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, who cared for the rescued hatchlings until they could be released back into the creek.

Now there is another chance for children to be enchanted, only on a much larger scale. Mark is offering a summer camp at the Friends School of Atlanta this summer — it’s called Critter Camp.

The camp is geared towards campers ages 6-12 (though 13-year-old children are also welcome). Mark writes that “Critter Camp is a fun, science-based exploration into the world of reptiles and amphibians. Over one hundred extraordinary animals are available to illustrate aspects of biology, ecology and conservation — a safe and truly hands-on experience for our critter campers (ages 6-12+).”

Mark also notes that the camp will, indeed, include snacritter-camp_media_squarepping turtle appreciation and importance!

For more information, visit, email or call 678 783 FROG (3764).


Orme Park Turtle Release a Success!

DSC_0272We had a successful release of five turtle hatchlings at Orme Park today. With a crowd of about 40 on hand (including many fascinated children) Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Mark Mandica led the event, allowing the children to touch and handle the turtles before they were released. You’ll remember that Mandica and his staff, along with concerned residents, were instrumental in the rescue and care of the hatchlings. Go to for articles on how the turtle nest was discovered and protected and how the hatchlings were saved from an almost certain demise.

DSC_0313Thanks again to Mandica and his staff for all their care and concern for the Orme Park turtles over the past few months. The five young hatchlings they’ve nurtured are now fending for themselves along the creek in Orme Park. Mandica gives them an excellent chance for survival and a long life. We sure hope he’s right.

Here’s a link to photos from today’s release event.


Say Hello to the Orme Park Turtles!

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Lola Carlisle for the pictures included in this article.

IMG_7726Sometimes good things happen to people who wait. Other times they happen to people who take action.

In June, VaHi resident Paige Cucchi and her husband Sean witnessed a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the walking path on Orme Park’s northeastern edge (across from 818 Brookridge). Click here to read about the Cucchi’s encounter and resident efforts to protect the nest until the eggs hatched, and hopefully ensure the hatchlings short but treacherous trip to the nearby creek.

IMG_7729It was thought the eggs might hatch as early as late July or early August. But when summer turned to fall, concerned residents – many of whom had modified their daily walking habits to check on the status of the nest – began to wonder when – or even if – the young turtles would make their appearance. Most were reluctant to dig up the nest for fear of harming the hatchlings or otherwise disturbing their natural birth process.

Fortunately, VaHi resident Anita Wallace, who volunteers at the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Program, saw our post about the Orme Park turtle nest and shared it with her supervisor. As amphibian research coordinator for the Department of Conservation Research at the Garden, Mark Mandica knew something was awry when the hatchlings hadn’t made their appearance by mid-October.

Mark Mandica's wife Crystal does her part to help rescue the Orme Park turtle hatchlings.

Mark Mandica’s wife Crystal does her part to help rescue the Orme Park turtle hatchlings.

Mandica reached out to the VHCA and offered to lend his expertise. When Mandica inspected the nest on Wednesday he determined the hatchlings were definitely overdue, and that the reason for their failure to appear was likely the dense, compacted soil in which the nest was buried. In a rescue operation worthy of major media coverage, Mandica and two others dug up the nest and, in fact, found numerous young turtles struggling to make their way to the surface and then on to the creek. If Mandica and crew had not intervened, all of the hatchlings would most likely have perished.

Amazingly, all ten hatchlings were rescued, although one unfortunately did not survive the short trip to Mandica’s home. Three of the remaining nine appear somewhat lethargic, but the rest are frolicking in the bathtub playground Mandica’s created for them. Dehydration is the major concern at this point. Mandica’s watching them closely,  though, and he’s hopeful that, now that they’re in water and receiving nourishment, all nine will make a speedy recovery.


No doubt about it: ABG Department of Conservation Research amphibian specialist Leslie Philips, Mark Mandica and Mark’s wife Crystal (l-r) have earned their gold star for the month by rescuing the Orme Park turtles.

Mandica will observe the baby turtles for the next week or two, after which the survivors will be released into the creek in Orme Park. VHCA plans to organize a turtle release event and interested residents will be invited to attend. We hope to also include an educational component at the event during which Mandica can help attendees better understand the plight of these wonderful creatures which he describes as “a species most people would just as soon kill.” When a time and date for the event are confirmed, we’ll let you know.

Click here to view a video of the grateful hatchlings thriving in Mandica’s bathtub.


Park Pride Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary with Free King of Pops at Orme Park

IMG_5777Park Pride’s 25th anniversary is this year and they’re celebrating by giving away FREE King of Pops at 25 different parks around the city. Thank you, Park Pride, for choosing Orme Park to help you celebrate!  Come to the park’s main entrance this Sunday, July 27th from 3:00 to 3:30 pm for your free pop. Supplies are limited and it’s first come, first served so get there early if you want a free pop.

Park Pride is committed to helping serve the community by improving local parks and green spaces. Park Pride has been a partner with Orme Park through Friends of Orme Park, which participated in Park Pride’s Park Visioning Program in 2007. Later, a partial grant for Phase I construction was awarded which helped cover the cost of moving the playground, and constructing new seating walls and our grand entrance.  Park Pride also provides volunteers and tools for Orme Park work days.

We hope to see you this Sunday from 3:00 to 3:30 at Orme Park!  Please help make this a green event by walking or biking over.

And, if you’d like to help make our park shine in the many pictures that will be taken at the event, please come by Saturday at 9:00 am for a quick park clean-up.

Thank you!

Orme Park Flier


Turtle Nest Found in Orme Park

DSC_0020While walking their dogs in Orme Park recently, Paige Cucchi and her husband Sean saw something you don’t see every day: a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the middle of the walking path on the park’s northeastern edge (across from 818 Brookridge).

The Cucchi’s placed some sticks and warning tape around the nest to protect it from being trampled by other walkers, then notified the VHCA. Volunteers rushed over and put up temporary plastic fencing to better protect the nest until the eggs hatch in late July or early August.

DSC_0019When the eggs hatch, the young turtles will most likely try to make their way to the nearby creek. During this time the young turtles will be very vulnerable to predators, including unleashed dogs. As the time for the eggs to hatch draws nearer, we will cut a hole in the fencing so the turtles can escape and erect additional fencing to protect and guide the turtles as they make their way to the creek.

Please do not disturb the nest or the fencing and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same.

DSC_0018If there are any residents who’d like to help discourage vandalism and increase the turtles’ survival chances by forming a watch committee, please let us know at Might be something fun and interesting for the kids to do during the long, hot summer.


Traffic Backup at Orme Park

VHCA Board President Jack White captured these rare images last week of a traffic tie-up – at Orme Park.

Witnesses say a group of patrons was heading home from a busy day at the park when the lead vehicle apparently encountered an obstacle it couldn’t overcome. No word on the whereabouts of any of the drivers involved or why they abandoned their vehicles so quickly (although rumor has it nap time was a contributing factor).

If you’re out and about in the ‘hood and capture an image you think speaks to life in VaHi – and you wouldn’t mind sharing it with your neighbors – send it to Include a caption if you like. We’ll post the best ones for everyone to enjoy.


Orme Park Cleanup and Potluck Scheduled for Saturday, June 8

Friends of Orme Park coordinator CC Davis posted the following on their Facebook page:

Cleanup and Potluck at Orme Park

Break out your shovels and work gloves! We’re having a cleanup day to spruce up our neighborhood gem.

Donuts, coffee and water provided for volunteers.

Saturday June 8th, 9:00 – 11:30 am.

Once the Saturday work is done, the Sunday fun can begin. Join us for a potluck dinner! Please bring a dish to share with your neighbors.

Sunday June 9th, 5:00 – 7:00 pm.

Like us on Facebook for updates and info –


Santa, Caroling Coming to Orme Park


On Friday afternoon November 30 residents will gather at Orme Park from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for a visit from Santa Claus! Skip the crowds at the mall and come on out to have your picture taken with Santa for a $5 donation to the Friends of Orme Park. Friends of Orme Park pays for new sand for the sandbox and general upkeep of the park and playground. Residents will also decorate the Critter Tree so come out and join in the holiday fun for kids of all ages.


On Sunday evening December 2 residents will gather at 6:30 for a dessert pot-luck and caroling around the Critter Tree. Hot chocolate and song sheets will be provided!  Please bring a dessert to share with your neighbors.


Workday in Orme Park 3/24

Buy a brick, donate for parks! >>>

See all news stories about Orme Park >>>

The sand is coming! The sand is coming! Please join us for a neighborhood workday at Orme Park on Saturday, March 24th from 9:00 to 11:30. We will be joined by Boy Scout Troop 455. In addition to moving the sand into the sandbox, there will be a few other clean-up items to take care of.

Bring your wheelbarrow from home – we will need as many as possible! There will be hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts (but bring your own coffee) …. please come! There will also be a donation bucket to help Friends of Orme Park pay for the sand as the City does not provide sand to local sandboxes. Hope to see you there!

CC Davis
Independent Stylist, Stella & Dot


Halloween Weekend Events

This will be a busy weekend for family activities.

Saturday morning from 9 to 11 there will be a cleanup in Orme Park – bring your gloves, trimmers and pruners to clear out invasive shrubs and enhance the recent repainting of the bridge.

Saturday afternoon at 4 – get dressed up in Halloween garb (adults, children and dogs), and bring a potluck dish to share, at the annual Atkins Park Halloween party in the new parkland at North Highland Avenue @ St. Charles Place.

Sunday morning – the Atlanta Marathon will be coming north on North Highland Avenue, west on Virginia Avenue, and then turning onto Park Drive to go to Piedmont Park. Plan your Sunday morning driving route accordingly.

Sunday afternoon – get dressed up in your Halloween garb again to attend the Orme Swarm at Orme Park from 4 to 6. Bring a potluck dish to share as well as your drinks and blankets for seating.

Monday evening – traditional “trick or treat” night. Drive carefully this evening.

All of these events provide an excellent way to meet new neighbors.


Orme Park Bridge Cleanup

Our diligent VaHi graffiti czar, Laura Voisinet, has announced a graffiti paintover under the bridge to be held Monday 9/26 from 5:30 til dark. Laura also wants to clean out the underbrush from this area – so wear old clothes, bring along your gloves along with pruners to help in this effort to produce a safer environment at the edge of this very popular park. Cleaning out the brush in this area will make it a less hospitable place for local teens to gather. Please send a RSVP to Laura at if you can participate so she will have plenty of paint rollers and other supplies available. APD has responded to my requests for additional patrol checks under the bridge and the under-the-bridge gatherings seem to have greatly tapered off.

Residents of this immediate area and park users have a very obvious obligation to help keep this area safe and clean – so please support Laura in her efforts. This is all a vital part of the “broken window” theory of crime prevention.


Voice – Fall 2011

Download PDF here (2.0 MB)

– Summerfest success
– President’s corner: volunteer for the board!
– Safety update: street captains, graffiti removal
– New Highland Park brick purchases
– 2011 Gold List of neighborhood businesses
– Street tree do’s and don’ts
– Patrols expand in VaHi and Old Fourth Ward
– VaHi history book published
– Parks update: Orme and New Highland
– Bella Cucina
– Repairs coming near Chevron and The Cavern
– Garrison Afterschool expands


Voice – Summer 2011

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– Summerfest
– Recent accomplishments of VHCA
– Maintaining curb appeal
– Funding received to benefit Orme and New Highland parks
– Rosedale Dr./N. Virginia intersection improvements made
– New businesses (Catalyst, Genki)
– History Part XI


Voice – Spring 2011

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– Tree planting
– Neighborhood responds to recent crime wave
– Volunteers
– Orme Park construction
– Sidewalks/walkability
– FBAC doubles patrol area
– Home Tour success
– Graffiti task force update
– History Part X


Voice – Winter 2010-11

Published late November 2010
Download PDF (1.8 MB)

– Get ready to do the tour (Tour of Homes)
– President’s corner by Aly Higgins
– Group works to rid VaHi of graffiti, by Victoria Hathcox and Laura Voisinet
– Planning continues for construction of New Highland Park, improvements to Orme Park: Both projects could see groundbreaking in early 2010, by Pamela Papner
– Green Dream fundraising
– VHCA wants Atlanta Gas Light to repave streets adversely impacted by recent line work: Gas company meets some, not all, of neighborhood’s cleanup requests
– Spotlight on public safety: keep your dollars at home! by John Wolfinger
– History of Virginia-Highland, Part IX
– Restaurant review: Goin’ Coastal
– New burger joint opens in VaHi


Unleashed Dogs

I have gotten some reports lately about unleashed dogs being allowed to run in the playground area of Orme Park while children are at play. Just remember all dogs are to be on a leash on city park grounds at all times. There also seems to be some misinformation going around that there will be an off-leash dog area in this park as part of the renovation plans – this is not true as this park is not large enough to accommodate such a facility. The nearest off-leash dog play area is in Piedmont Park near the Park Drive entrance.


Voice – Spring 2010

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– Triangle island renovation nears completion
– Home Tour recap
– Local Haiti relief efforts continue
– President’s Corner: Callanwolde silent auction results
– SPARK students introduced to debate
– Spotlight on Grady High School
– Grow fruit in your garden
– Streetscape update
– Green Dream silent auction a success
– Safety update: Reed administration and the APD
– Orme Park Phase One improvements
– How healthy are your trees?
– History part VI
– Col. Mustard reviews Rosebud


VaHi Silent Auction/Dinner Event

This fundraising event to benefit our newly purchased parkland on North Highland and improvements to Orme Park to be held next Friday evening the 22nd at Callanwolde provides an excellent social venue to meet more of your neighbors, as well as help fund our greenspace plans. Ticket purchase info and details of the auction are at See you there!


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.


Voice – Winter 2007-8

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– Phase II Streetscape plans finalized
– President’s Corner
– 2007 Tour of Homes recap
– Area homes included on tour of kitchens
– Zipcar comes to VaHi
– VaHi Safety Team report
– Neighborhood preservation initiative gains steam
– Trees Atlanta visits VaHi
– The Bus Stop: school news
– Col. Mustard reviews La Tavola
– Intown cycling: family style
– Orme Park master plan takes shape, by Jack White


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


Orme Park Cleanup

Saturday, October 16 at 3 p.m. We’ll work from 3 – 5:30 or 6 p.m. and then have a cookout. Kids from Hillside Hospital have volunteered to help clean the park and they’d love neighbors to participate! Bring your work gloves, clippers, etc. if you have them (if not, we’ll have extras) and then stay to enjoy a cookout! Side dishes are welcome, but mostly, we’d love to see you and your family there! Please contact Pete Bartlewski or Dawn Shipp with any questions.


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