Park Pride investing $864,000 in parks in Atlanta and DeKalb

By Maria Saporta

Park Pride announced today that it is granting a total of $864,000 to 21 community groups in Atlanta and DeKalb County to fund capital park improvements.

According to a news release, that  means that since 2004, Park Pride has awarded more than $6.6 million to projects that include new playgrounds, bridges and piers, informational kiosks and signage, trails, exercise equipment, community gardens, game fields, pavilions, green infrastructure amenities to help manage storm water runoff, and more.

Park Pride is celebrating its 30th anniversary of engaging communities to activate the power of parks. Through funding capital park improvements and programs focused on building the capacity and cohesion of Friends of the Park groups, the nonprofit supports neighbors as they create parks that meet the needs of their communities.

“Across Atlanta and DeKalb, Friends of the Park volunteers are dedicated to creating great parks,” explained Tina Arnold, Park Pride’s director of community building responsible for the Friends of the Park Program. “I’m proud to work with such committed community leaders, selflessly working to improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods for kids, families, seniors, and anyone who visits their park.”

Park Pride Chapel Hill

Thanks to a 2016 grant from Park Pride, a new fishing pier in DeKalb County’s Chapel Hill Park has just been completed (Special: Park Pride)

Park Pride began making grants in 2004, award varying amounts of funding to community groups to revitalize their neighborhood greenspaces.

Three distinct grants provide awards of different sizes, designed to support Friends of the Park groups taking on larger projects as they grow and develop capacity. Legacy Grants ($50,000 and up) are funded by the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and Community Building Grants ($2,500-$50,000) and Small Change Grants (up to $2,500) are funded by the Home Depot Foundation. Each dollar of every grant is matched by the community and other sources, which, at a minimum, doubles the award’s impact!

Park Pride’s Associate Director, Allison Barnett, expressed appreciation for the grant programs’ funders, stating, “As we enter into our milestone 30th anniversary year, we’re so thankful for our grant program funders who have helped us bring over $6.6 million of investments into our parks since the program began. They are committed to making a positive difference in greenspaces for the families and communities that use them, and we’re so appreciative of their ongoing support and partnership for the greener good!”

Charles Anderson, leader of the Friends of Lithonia Park, was thrilled to receive the news that his Friends group had been awarded a Community Building Grant to install fitness and sensory play equipment in the DeKalb County park. “We are so excited that Park Pride is supporting the Friends of Lithonia Park, the City of Lithonia, and DeKalb County as we work together to revitalize our park!” he stated. “The Music Meadow [sensory play equipment] will help our children—and likely some of us older folks—discover talents and boost creativity. The fitness equipment will provide exercise opportunities to families that do not have equipment at home or who cannot afford gym memberships. We will all get healthier together!”

In 2019, Park Pride’s Small Change Grants and Community Building Grants will be available to communities in the City of Brookhaven and the City of Tucker, as well as in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County. These grants will be funded by The Home Depot Foundation with additional support from Deen Day Sanders.

Keep an eye out for the park improvements below coming to a greenspace near you!

Legacy Grants

Park Pride Legacy Grants (available only to groups within The City of Atlanta) have been awarded to the following:

  • The Friends of Armand Parkwill construct a pavilion overlooking the playground, adding shade, offering extended views and providing a gathering place for neighbors. A raingarden will improve water quality before it reaches the South Fork Peachtree Creek and a low impact, slate trail pathway will provide access to existing trails.
  • Chastain Park Conservancywill expand their playground to include a playhouse and fire station for toddlers. In addition, a sensory tunnel and musical equipment will provide a sensory experience for all.
  • The Friends of Collier Heights Parkwill revitalize an aging play area. This includes the construction of a new retaining wall, new rubber safety surfacing, and new play equipment. The park will also benefit from new fitness equipment and two metal benches.
  • The Grant Park Conservancywill restore several historic elements within the park, including Lion’s Bridge and the Erskine and Milledge Fountains, allowing park visitors to once again enjoy these magnificent amenities.
  • The Friends of Kennedy Parkwill revitalize and reconstruct the park. This will include a synthetic playing field for football, soccer and other sports, and a resurfacing of the basketball court. A paved walking path and fitness equipment will also be installed, in addition to refreshed landscape plantings.
  • The Friends of Mozley Parkwill add fitness and playground equipment to activate the park in play, fitness and outdoor recreation.
  • The Friends of Sara J. González Parkwill add a learning nook that will offer educational opportunities for all members of the community, from kids to seniors. A small playing field will host youth clinics and unstructured play.

Community Building Grants
Park Pride Community Building Grants (available to groups in the City of Atlanta and DeKalb County) were awarded to:

  • The Friends of Lillian Cooper Shepherd Park(COA) will install green infrastructure amenities to manage stormwater and prevent flooding and standing water. This will increase seating space, and improve the safety, accessibility, and functionality of the park. They will also renovate the basketball court, exercise area, and sandbox.
  • The Friends of Lionel Hampton-Beecher Hills Park (COA) will restore sections of the trail and enjoy new trail signage.
  • The Friends of Lithonia Park(DC) will install a one-of-a-kind playscape and a Fitness Forest (equipment) to encourage health and fitness. A Music Meadow of outdoor instruments will provide children and families access to artistic instruments and musical opportunities.
  • The Friends of Melvin Drive Park(COA) will install a new pavilion. Enhancements will also be made for improved ADA accessibility.
  • The Friends of Sidney Marcus Park(COA) will enhance the picnic area with an ADA accessible walkway and two picnic tables for birthday parties and gatherings. Grading and new plantings will further enhance the park.
  • The Friends of South Atlanta Park(COA) will expand the playground’s footprint and add climbing features and a slide for the neighborhood kids to enjoy!
  • The Friends of Zonolite Park(DC) will construct a new boardwalk as well as a bridge. A decorative fence will flank the main park trail and a new drip irrigation system will help ensure the garden’s success.

Additionally, Small Change Grants were awarded to Friends of the Park groups at: Cabbagetown Park (COA), Collier Heights Park (COA), Ira B. Melton Park (DC), LaVista Park (DC), Lithonia Park (DC), Longdale Park (DC), Memorial Drive Greenway (COA), Springbrook Park (DC), and Underwood Hills Park (COA).

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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