By David Pendered
Atlanta has won a $280,000 federal grant that’s to help pay for construction of a 9.2 acre park next to Proctor Creek, a blighted waterway near the future Falcons stadium.
Proctor Creek drains storm water from much of downtown Atlanta. Environmental groups have focused for nearly a decade on methods to improve the waterway.
An ambitious plan outlines a $50 million public-private partnership to restore the corridor from its headwaters to the Chattahoochee River. Partners include the city of Atlanta, Trust for Public Land, and Emerald Corridor, LLC. The federal grant can help continue the progress.
“As a result of this grant, west Atlanta will see significant park enhancement, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement. “With the help of federal and community partners, this effort will also spur economic development and connect communities with new recreation opportunities.”
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the grant Tuesday. Atlanta shared in a total award of $3 million that is intended to help a total of eight cities build and improve parks and recreation facilities in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The source of funding is revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.
This is how the Interior Department characterized the grant to Atlanta:
“The City of Atlanta and private partners will create a new 9.2-acre community park adjacent to and inclusive of a portion of Proctor Creek in northwestern Atlanta. The surrounding neighborhoods are minority and low income and lack safe and accessible recreation opportunities.
- “The grant will support the first phase of development of the planned park, which includes installing a 1,400-foot pedestrian and bike trail that will also provide the access to the park; three new adult fitness stations and three children’s play stations; benches; and unstructured spaces for picnicking and play.”
Environmental advocate Tony Torrance is one of many area residents who have campaigned for environmental improvements in and along Proctor Creek.
“We would like to create an eco district in Proctor Creek and create green jobs, as well,” Torrance told the Atlanta City Council’s Utilities Committee in a Feb. 24 presentation he made at the request of committee Chairperson Natalyn Archibong. “To help this city, we need to take a look at alternative views and plans to deal with the storm water issues we have in this city. We’ve been dealing with these challenges more than 30 years.”
In a presentation in April 2014, Debra Edelson, then a senior program director with TPL, portrayed the Proctor Creek Greenway project as one that would achieve a number of objectives. It would establish a public-private financing method for green infrastructure; clean the waters of Proctor Creek and, thus, the Chattahoochee River; and provide linkage to local trail systems.
Edelson now serves as executive director of the Emerald Corridor Foundation and said in the statement issued by the city: “We are delighted to partner with the city of Atlanta and the Trust for Public Land in delivering a new park and recreation opportunities to the surrounding Proctor Creek community.”