By David Pendered
After years of discussion, the Historic Mims Park, in Vine City, is to be designed and built at no cost to the city through an agreement Atlanta has reached with The Trust for Public Land.
TPL has agreed to raise the money necessary to design, develop and build the park planned along Joseph E. Boone Boulevard. The 16-acre site is a few blocks northwest of the future Falcons stadium. Though the park has long been called Mims Park, its official name has not been established.
TPL also has agreed to acquire about seven parcels that have long been associated with the park, but are not part of the 13.1 acres now owned by the city. These tracts encompass about three acres.
A construction timeline is not included in the memorandum of agreement the Atlanta City Council approved at its Dec. 7 meeting. The agreement states that TPL can opt out if it can’t raise the necessary funds.
The agreement addresses an historic sticking point regarding the planned park – flooding in the Vine City neighborhood. The agreement specifies that the park, “will not materially impede and/or diminish,” a sewer capacity relief facility the city intends to build on a portion of the park property.
The Department of Watershed Management is now conducting a remediation of soil at the park site under a voluntary remediation program that’s overseen by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Park construction isn’t to begin until after the remediation has been completed.
The plan also requires that area residents be involved in planning the park.
This is a significant step, in the context of Atlanta moving ahead with efforts to sell Turner Field even before a master plan for the ballpark and its community is complete. The Atlanta Regional Commission provided $212,000 for the plan through its Livable Centers Initiative. Atlanta matched the grant with $63,000 in city funds.
Here is the language in the memorandum of agreement regarding community involvement:
- “TPL and the City shall work together in conducting appropriate local community engagement in order to inform the public about the Park and gather input regarding desired amenities for the Park.
- “TPL and the City shall work together and coordinate efforts in making any announcements, issuing press releases, or conducting public events related to the development of Mims Park and the implementation of this Agreement.”
The agreement recognizes the planning for the park that’s been conducted by the National Monuments Foundation. “To the extent practicable,” the city and TPL have agreed to consider the conceptual plan the foundation have completed. But they will not be bound to the previous plan.
The city and TPL also agree, “where practicable,” to consult with the foundation on elements of the Olmstead Linear Design of the former Mims Park. All features and amenities of the park are to be approved by two commissioners – for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Watershed Management.
TPL has a long history of helping to acquire land for public use in Atlanta.
Most recently TPL has been involved in buying land in the corridor of the Atlanta BeltLine, including Historic Old Fourth Ward Park, Boulevard Crossing Park (the first fully assembled new park on the BeltLine), and the Bellwood Quarry/Westside Park.
Starting in the late 1970s, TPL helped buy more than a dozen properties for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. The purchases helped protect the historic integrity of the neighborhood where King was born.