By Maria Saporta
After nearly four years at the helm, Helen Tapp is retiring as the Georgia director of the Trust for Public Land at the end of the month.
Tapp, who joined the Trust in late 2007, continued the environmental organization’s top initiatives in Georgia — the Atlanta BeltLine, the Chattahoochee River Corridor Greenway and Georgia Green.
“I am privileged to have been part of the TPL team and celebrate the great work of our talented staff, dedicated volunteers and good partners,” Tapp said. “Together we’ve been able to assemble the land for new and expanded parks in the City of Atlanta and Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Carroll counties…”
Tapp said the organization also was able to “secure irreplaceable historic properties, like Hyde Farm, a home in the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic District, and civil war sites at Kennesaw Mountain, Moore’s Bridge and Resaca; and protect significant natural areas as diverse as critical land at the headwaters of the Chattahoochee, Bakers Rock in Snellville, and major tracts for the Oconee National Forest and Bond Swamp Nature Preserve.”
Tapp added that as the organization gets ready to launch its next phases of its Chattahoochee project and its urban initiatives, it “is a great time for me to had the reigns to someone who will help to write the next chapter of the TPL story in Georgia,” she said in a statement
David Martin, president of TPL’s Georgia Advisory Council, said that Tapp’s “outstanding leadership, dedication and energy have been one of the driving forces behind success and growth of the Trust for Public Land over the last few years.”
Tapp also received praise from Will Rogers, president of the national organization — the Trust for Public Land.
“Helen has led TPL-Georgia through very difficult economic waters an created an efficient, flexible organization better able to seize new opportunities and maximize on-going campaigns,” Rogers said. “She will be difficult to replace.”
Bob McClymonds, TPL’s Southern Division Director, will become the interim state director. The Trust also is conducting a national executive search.
Tapp has been a long-time player in metro Atlanta’s planning and development circles. Beginning 32 years ago, she began her career with the Atlanta Regional Commission. She then served as founding director of the Council for Quality Growth and the Regional Business Coalition.
Most recently, Tapp was a vice president and corporate director of the Jordan Jones & Goulding engineering consulting firm. She also has served as chair of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and was one of the initial members of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.
The Trust for Public Land, which aims to protect land for people, is involved in 47 states where it has protected 2.8 million acres.
The Georgia office of the Trust for Public Land has been especially active, conserving more than 20,000 acres. TPL also was one of the early believers in protecting green space along the Atlanta BeltLine, acquiring more than $40 million worth of land along the urban development corridor.
When Tapp succeeded Jim Langford as TPL’s Georgia director, the organization was holding $25 million worth of land along the BeltLine. In all, it has conveyed nearly $33 million of property to the City of Atlanta, sold off some of the parcels, and continues to own about $9 million of land along the corridor.