Refurbished park near Grant Park opens Friday as testament to volunteers’ efforts

By David Pendered

It took a lot of work, bake sales and visits from the Fun Bunny, and now Grant Park residents are set to cut the ribbon on their new park on Friday and then celebrate the park Saturday with a family-friendly festival.

Ormond-Grant Park, yoga

Yoga is a family event at Ormond-Grant Park. Classes aren’t so rigorous that the girl on the pink mat can’t take a nap while others are doing the downward facing dog. Credit: facebook.com

The remake of Ormond-Grant Park is a testament to the results volunteers in Atlanta can achieve when they pitch in and work together on a shared vision, according to Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith, who represents the area.

“We’re talking about an old playground, which actually was dangerous, and totally rehabilitating it,” Smith said Thursday. “It’s the personality of Grant Park. We’re all about rehabbing, and the park is beautiful.”

Residents didn’t raise all the money to refurbish the 1.3 acre park. Additional support came from Atlanta, a grant from Park Pride, and a federal Community Development Block Grant.

Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the official opening of amenities including a new state-of-the-art playground, accessible sidewalks, safety railings, picnic tables, benches, bike racks, a granite wall that provides seating, and a new park sign. The event is slated to begin at 11 a.m. and headliners include Amy Phuong, parks commissioner; Kimberly Kleiber, chair, Friends of Ormond-Grant Park; and Smith.

Fun bunny with children 2016

The Fun Bunny, said to be a relative of the Easter Bunny, visited children to help raise money to refurbish Ormond-Grant Park. Visits cost $27.50 and came with a basket of treats or six fun-filled eggs. Credit: facebook.com

The community celebration on Saturday is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Highlights include yoga for kids and adults; face painting; raffle drawings; balloon animals; and frozen treats provided by King of Pops and picnic-style sandwiches and burgers by de Oranje Koe, aka The Orange Cow.

Residents of other neighborhoods who want to pursue a similar dream can visit the Facebook page of Friends of Ormond-Grant Park and see a step-by-step portrayal of how these residents went about reaching their dreams for a pleasant park.

It wasn’t always easy, judging from Facebook postings:

  • “Hey neighbors! Only two people have signed up for the bake sale so far. I am going to have to cancel it if more folks do not sign up. Please consider baking something!” – Jennifer Berkowitz, May 5, 2015.
  • “Just signed up!” – ‪Annie Stilwell Burch, May 5, 2015.
  • “Thank you, Annie!” – Jennifer Berkowitz, May 5, 2015.

    Ormond-Grant Park, toys left behind

    Ormond-Grant Park is the kind of place where friends take to Facebook to post pictures of forgotten toys. Credit: facebook.com

  • “Thank you to everyone who baked for the bake sale last night or bought from the bake sale, GPPN who put on the awesome event, as well as the restaurants who supported us: Agave, Grant Park Coffeehouse, Ratio, Grant Central Pizza. And, of course, a BIG thanks to Jennifer Berkowitz, Shelly Brockman, and Katie Base Roberts for working the table and putting their time & effort into making it a great little fundraiser for our park! Every bit counts.” – Kimberly Kleiber, May 8, 2015.

The Fun Bunny looks like an easier sell.

An adult dressed in a bunny suit visited homes on Easter weekend this year and delivered a basket of treats or six fun-filled plastic eggs. The fee was $27.50 per visit. The children had a blast, based on some of the pictures posted on the Facebook page.

“These women, mostly moms, did the first master plan meeting and I left,” Smith said. “The community worked so hard. They came together, rolled up their sleeves, worked on plans, worked on fundraising, worked on implementation. And now we have a final product that is going to be one of the best amenities in Southeast Atlanta. It’s beautiful.”

Ormond-Grant Park, 2012

Ormond-Grant Park was showing its age in this 2012 photo. The playground equipment and other amenities weren’t safe, according to Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith. Credit: foursquare.com

Ormond-Grant Park, construction, March 2016

Construction crews worked in March to build the granite wall for seating and to prepare the grounds of Ormond-Grant Park. Credit: facebook.com

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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