Planners envision airport-area riverside park

By Maggie Lee

It’s commonly thought that Georgia’s Flint River starts under Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, though its path to the Gulf actually starts a little further north. Now there’s a move afoot to knit the uppermost Flint and its headwater channels into a network of parks and trails, turning areas around the airport into green destinations.

A proposed vision for new green spaces north and south of the airport includes a more free-flowing Flint River in several places including alongside the Delta Flight Museum, as in this sketch. Credit: ARC

It’s a vision right now, said Chris Faulkner, principal planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission, after he presented an idea entitled “Finding the Flint” to an ARC committee on Thursday.

The plan reimagines parts of today’s Flint both above and below the airport not in narrow ditches or treeless concrete channels, but loosed to flow a little more naturally amid riverside parks and paths.

The point is to bolster the health of the river as well as quality of life for people.

The vision looks familiar to fans of Atlanta’s Bellwood Quarry or Charlotte’s airport overlook park. There’s an idea to fill an abandoned quarry at with water as part of a park between Interstate 75 and State Route 85 south of the airport. And another to put a multiuse trail alongside the airport for planespotters.

“It’s amazing when you give folks an opportunity to go be a ten-year-old again and watch airplanes take off and land again, they’re happy to do it,” Faulkner said.

The vision is just that right now — a sort of imagining unconstrained by costs.

The next step is find to champions — public or private partners who want to take on nuts-and-bolts planning and fundraising for the plan or parts of it.

The work started with nonprofits American Rivers and The Conservation Fund, which were looking for a regional partner in natural resource and water planning, Faulkner said after the meeting.

The ARC is an intergovernmental coordination body that covers a ten-county region centered on Atlanta.

Check out the presentation slides for maps and more sketches.

4 replies
  1. Greg says:

    The Flint actually has it’s start in East Point in a field alongside Willingham Drive, just east of the old Tri City Plaza location. From there, the stream begins its flow south towards the airport and beyond.Report

    Reply
    • Maggie Lee says:

      I left out details about the start of the river because I found different sources that said different things! 😬 Maybe this is a good spot for conversation. Lots of little tributaries, I guess???Report

      Reply
  2. Greg says:

    Thank you Maggie, for this article. Although I haven’t lived in Ga. for a number of years now, I am very familiar with this area….having grown up in East Point. About a year ago, Woodward Academy constructed a track and field complex along Willingham Dr. It is in the field right beside of this complex (just to its east) where the Flint (yes, a little tributary) begins to ‘rise’.. Goggle earth shows this area quite well. Indeed, this small stream runs through open areas and culverts as it makes it way south through neighborhoods and around hotels. After flowing under Virginia Ave and I-85, it passes right by the two newly displayed airplanes at the Delta Museum ( as noted in the article) in an open straight line culvert before disappearing under the airport. Guess this is all peanuts compared to the possible creation of a riverside park….but I certainly hope it will come to fruition. Thanks again for publishing this. Cheers.Report

    Reply

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