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The tree massacre at the Bobby Jones Golf Course a blow to Atlanta

Bobby Jones Golf Course

The remains of the Bobby Jones Golf Course tree massacre (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

By Maria Saporta

Back during the Civil War, the land that is now known as the Bobby Jones Golf Course was a battlefield that witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of the Atlanta Campaign.

Today, the Bobby Jones Golf Course has become a battlefield once again.

But this time, the casualties were more than 800 trees that were cut down to make way for a redeveloped Bobby Jones Golf Course.

Bobby Jones Golf Course

A view of the new Bobby Jones Golf Course under construction (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Sadly, the Bobby Jones Golf Foundation – the entity that is leasing the property from the state and is redeveloping the course from one with 18 holes to one with nine holes and a driving range – did not have to comply with Atlanta’s tree ordinance or stream buffer requirements.


The State of Georgia acquired the property in November, 2016 through a land swap with the City of Atlanta, which wanted possession of a state-owned parking garage next to Underground Atlanta.

State law does not require the state to comply with local laws, and even an attorney with the City of Atlanta agreed that the Bobby Jones Golf Course would “enjoy” the same exemption through its lease with the state.

So now we are left with 130 acres that the Foundation has referred to as “a blank canvas” to create the new Bobby Jones Golf Course.

Marty Elgison, president of the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, defended the redesign – saying the end result will be a wonderful golf course that will live up to the legacy of its namesake.

“It did have a lot of trees,” Elgison acknowledged. “We had an arborist come out. There were 1,182 trees, and only 143 were in good condition.”

Bobby Jones Golf Course

The remains of the Bobby Jones Golf Course tree massacre (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Elgison added that about 40 percent of the trees were not in good condition. While he couldn’t confirm how many trees had been cut down, he admitted that it was “in the hundreds.” But the Foundation never did an exact audit of how many trees were cut down or the amount of tree caliper (the thickness of the tree trunks) that was destroyed.

The City of Atlanta’s tree ordinance requires developers to replant the same amount of healthy tree caliper that was cut down. It would take thousands of new trees to replace the caliper of 800 mature trees (the estimate provided by nearby residents) that were cut down for the new Bobby Jones Golf Course.

“What I want to emphasize is that this project is a lot more than the trees,” Elgison said. “It will be a better piece of property in every single way except for the trees.”

Then Elgison added that the Foundation will plant 100 new trees, a fraction of what the City of Atlanta would have required a private property owner to do.

The Bobby Jones Golf Foundation’s destruction of Atlanta’s tree canopy has upset many.

Rutherford Seydel, an attorney and an environmentalist who lives near the golf course, said community residents were never fully informed about “the degree to which they were going to dismantle the natural capital that had grown up over the last 100 years.

“It was a double-barreled shotgun blow to nature,” Seydel said. “You had all kinds of wildlife there, and the trees were a natural filter for Peachtree Creek. They changed the historical landscape of the entire course.”

Seydel said the project could have been “a win-win” for everybody.

Instead, Seydel is concerned they are “doing the bare minimum to keep soil remediation out of Peachtree Creek.”

Bobby Jones Golf Course sign (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

And the groves of trees on the golf course provided oxygen and cooled the area during the hot summer months.

“They destroyed the local oxygen factory,” Seydel said. “The trees provided our neighborhoods with oxygen. And the climate was made cooler because of the trees.”

Elgison said they have complied with soil remediation requirements so as to protect Peachtree Creek. He suggested I contact Jason Ulseth, the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, to verify that the Foundation was being a good environmental steward.

“We are spending almost $1 million on erosion control,” Elgison said. “I’m committed to doing this the right way. These creeks and streams – Peachtree Creek and Tanyard Creek – are very important. We are going to try to protect them.”

Jason Ulseth responded in an email that the jury is still out.

“In the early stages of clearing and grading for the golf course renovation, we saw some pretty significant impacts from storm water running off of the site and into Tanyard and Peachtree Creeks,” Ulseth wrote. “Most of the causes of those problems have since been rectified, and we are continuing to watch the site following heavy rains to ensure that the proper erosion and sediment controls are effective in protecting the creeks.”

Then Ulseth added: “The stretch of Peachtree Creek along the golf course is heavily eroded and degraded, and we hope that the loss of tree canopy will not add to the degradation. There were some opportunities to enhance and restore the banks of Peachtree Creek during this project that unfortunately were not implemented.”

Elgison said the Foundation actually is improving the environment by removing two-and-a-half acres of impervious surfaces (the tennis courts and a parking lot) that were in the floodplain and replacing it with the new golf course.

Bobby Jones

Earth moving equipment regrades the Bobby Jones Golf Course (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

The Foundation is protecting a 25-foot buffer next to Peachtree Creek (the state’s requirement) rather than a 75-foot buffer (the city’s requirement). But he said the golf course will act like a buffer.

The tree massacre at Bobby Jones does raise lots of questions. Land that is owned by public entities – be it the State of Georgia, the City of Atlanta or the Atlanta Board of Education – should comply with the strictest environmental guidelines that exist. They certainly should not be exempt from environmental laws.

“The state should definitely respect the local laws,” Seydel said. “The Foundation dismantled 100-year old trees. They need to come up with the money to replant the number of trees to fit with the city’s tree ordinance. They need to do what’s best for the community.”

Elgison said the Foundation has raised $18 million, and it still needs another $6 million to complete the project. As it now stands, the budget only includes the planting of 100 new trees.

“Please try to look at it holistically,” Elgison said. “This is not a finished, final product. This will make Atlanta a better city. We are going to use this course to make golf more accessible to more people – especially kids.”

We cannot bring back the trees that were cut down. But going forward, we must be far more forceful to insist that we can redevelop land (build a great golf course) AND protect our tree canopy. It’s not an either-or equation.

At the very minimum, the Bobby Jones Golf Foundation can replant the same amount of tree canopy as it destroyed.

This was the second column in a two-part series. To read the first column about the Atlanta Public Schools’ plans to cut down trees for the renovation of the David T. Howard Elementary School, please click here.

Bobby Jones Golf Course master plan

The newest master plan for the Bobby Jones Golf Course (Special: the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation)

Bobby Jones

Orange mesh fencing lines large portions of the Bobby Jones (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Bobby Jones aerial view

An aerial view of the Bobby Jones Golf Course before 800-plus trees were cut down (Special: Bing Maps)

Bobby Jones golf course

Bobby Jones Golf Course redevelopment with the new PATH on the right (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones Golf Course redevelopment under construction (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

trees at Bobby Jones Golf Course

Fragments of cut down trees at the Bobby Jones Golf Course (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Bobby Jones

The Bobby Jones Golf Course has been turned into red clay and mud (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

Bobby Jones historical markers

Historical markers describe the Civil War battles that were fought on the site of the Bobby Jones Golf Course (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Maria Saporta

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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  1. Melanie Bass Pollard March 12, 2018 6:15 pm

    This is so very appalling to read and see. The Property was once a Memorial Park honoring a horrific battle. The wooded section of the grounds were possibly part of the only pristine undisturbed battleground remaining within Atlanta Memorial Park. It was also a pristine forest of huge trees. The archaeological site deserved to be studied with an inspection before the land was erased. Land swaps like this one and Piedmont Park are just more smoke and mirror trades for profit by the city on the disappearing beauty of Atlanta’s trees.

    I’m quite saddened by the lack of understanding of the true impact and no consideration at all for the wildlife that resided there and are now homeless. At whose expense? The community and taxpayers? I would love to see some algorithm predictions developed on the impact of wind now to be unharnessed on the surrounding overstory trees that surround the community. The stormwater problems that will be unleashed onto streets with incalculable soil erosion and movement in the decades to come. Those roots were connected underneath the soils by a vast network of mycorrihizae- the living life of our plant organisms and “wood wide web” now destroyed for centuries.

    When approached by the community who were trying to stop the denuding, the Executive Director of AMPC, was quoted as saying:

    “I wanted to clear up some confusion generated on the Nextdoor Neighbor site, and to direct everyone to the appropriate parties. When the City and State entered into a land swap back in November 2016 and the State took control of the golf course, AMPC was no longer involved in the decisions for that part of the park. Since the golf course hasn’t been within AMPC’s purview since then, all concerns and inquiries should be directed to the State and the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation which was created after the land swap to raise funds for and renovate the new golf course. The president of that foundation is Marty Elgison. You can reach him by email at info@bjgcfoundation.org.

    As for the AMPC, we are focused on 3 key areas – Connectivity, Greenspace, and Watershed – and are looking forward to the groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow for the sidewalks around Memorial Park (west of Northside Drive) which is referenced below. The sidewalk project is a city project under Renew Atlanta’s domain that has included many partners including Trees Atlanta. AMPC has enjoyed working with Trees Atlanta on this project which first began with a feasibility study funded by Park Pride and neighborhood donors back in 2015. The sidewalk project not only includes 5′ sidewalks to get pedestrians off the street, but it also includes improved drainage and an invasive species mitigation component.”

    While sidewalks are needed, the trees are needed much more. It is without doubt, the most unique and natural asset we have. And which gave us something no other city had: Old growth remnant forest canopy. This canopy is quickly disappearing before our very eyes – on our generations watch – and cannot ever be replanted back to their same size and health once the life within the soils is destroyed– so well illustrated here by the photos that document another sad story for the City in the Forest. Our trees and canopy will continue to get smaller and smaller as we plant back in more disturbed soils until “the big ones” will be the 30″ DBH – not the 60-70″ DBH of the 19th and 20th centuries only visible in photos for future children.

    Events where we can talk about this and our disappearing canopy start tonight: https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaProtectsTrees/posts/2072735112963386Report

    1. Jay Clark March 13, 2018 10:34 am

      My wife and I walked the site before the bomb went off 60+ days ago when they cut down all of the trees. I’m a developer with most of our work inside the perimeter. We would have had our job stopped, penalized and persecuted by the neighbors….. They did have a tree survey as I saw the numbers on the trees. I understand they are immune from the local laws, but logic would dictate they need to be obligated to replace more than 100 trees and all trees should be at least 10″ caliber trees. This is expensive, but it should be given what they did. They cut down a large number of healthy 100+ year old oak trees. The irony of all of this is the City traded the golf course for the underground city parking lot that got flipped to a parking operator to enable the buyer of underground to finance the underground acquisition. Sad. Somehow either the State or a local push needs to insure the tree canopy gets greatly improved from the 100 tree verbal obligation with no other details provided.Report

    2. Michael Lewin March 14, 2018 7:27 pm

      Please see Gail’s reply further down in the comment thread. She said it so well. This IS AMPC’s plan. They own this project. Board members from AMPC created BJGCF so that they (AMPC) could continue passing themselves off as a conservation group and continue to raise money. I’ve said from Day 1 that the ‘C’ in ‘AMPC’ really stands for ‘Construction.’ Now, others are starting to see this too (but it’s too late). Perhaps a reporter could also look at the connections between past and present board members and those getting the construction contracts for this destruction of our park. On the bright side, it’s nice to see reporting on this that goes beyond repeating AMPC and BJGCF talking points.Report

    3. YardioYvonne March 15, 2018 10:50 am

      Yes, Way to go Melanie! Yvonne Vance WadeReport

      1. Melanie Pollard March 15, 2018 1:01 pm

        Bruce Dutcher tried to stop this: Read his post on APT.

        I’d love to see a public rally on this. With the “taking of our parks” we can no longer wait. The city is funding the infrastructure needed on the Westside by selling off our existing parks they have no stake in. Needs to stop NOW.Report

      2. Melanie Pollard March 15, 2018 1:04 pm

        Yvonne! contact me on Facebook. Or write to info@AtlantaProtectsTrees.org. I’m working in that group to spread awareness and network those who want to DO something. You can read the comments on the Saporta Report that are shared there. For this community, it’s important to cross-share every possible avenue to let everyone know what has happened here.

  2. LAWRENCE J FOGEL March 12, 2018 7:08 pm

    I hope what we call the “alphabet agencies” out here will come together and replace all the lost trees. One of Atlanta’s finest features is its trees. Let’s have more, never less!Report

  3. Kristi Eide March 13, 2018 9:19 am

    I agree with the sentiment. So sad that folks are disconnected from Life. May this golf course fail. The grading of the soil is a crime. By grading the soil, you all have made the land sterile of the rich mycelium that was there, that was the seed for all life in that area, including the trees. So dumb.Report

  4. Patricia Redmon March 13, 2018 9:56 am

    It’s not just about the tree ordinance. Georgia permits development in so many ways that harm the environment. We need stronger controls on removal of trees, reshaping of the physical landscape, and altering drainage in harmful ways. Nothing seems to stand in the way of the developer’s profit in Georgia. And, all too often, development without adequate infrastructure leaves a bill for taxpayers or the absence of services for residents.

    We can learn lessons about tree preservation from Tallahassee — but it took a lot of passion to establish the limits that exist now.Report

  5. Ken Bleakly March 13, 2018 9:58 am

    Am I reading this right, they are taking an existing golf course and reducing the number of holes from 18 to 9 and it will cost $2,000,000 per hole to do that? Outrageous! Who approved this budget? Something doesn’t compute.Report

    1. Michael Lewin March 14, 2018 7:13 pm

      This article is a good start but only tells part of the story. Most of that budget is going towards a huge double-height parking deck. They excavated one of the most beautiful parts of the old golf course, destroyed every tree in that section, and removed a hill in order to make way for the parking deck. Moreover, this deck, which is across the street from homes, will be lit up at night and topped with tennis courts – creating a nuisance to nearby home owners. AMPC and BJGCF could have located the parking deck away from homes (or not build it at all) but chose to ignore community members and bypass the normal approval processes.Report

  6. Craig Pendergrast March 13, 2018 10:07 am

    A clarification about City code compliance. I’m a lawyer, and I was initially told and believed that the State as owner of the golf course was exempt from City ordinances. While I’ve never believed that any such exemption applied to the Bobby Jones Golf Foundation, Inc. as the lessee and developer of the property, I have now done legal research that has caused me to conclude that neither the State as owner nor Bobby Jones Golf Foundation as lessee/developer is exempt from applicable City code requirements such as the City’s Tree Ordinance and Special Use Permitting process.Report

    1. MERRITT HUBER March 14, 2018 11:30 am

      Exempting govt from the tree ordinance and other permitting processes is plainly wrong. Why should govt be given a pass especially in regard to this historic property and rich in-town natural resource? Ptree Creek will be muddied even further and run off will make it’s way to the Chattahoochee. Having grown up in the neighborhood I am troubled by what has been made of the course and especially the hi-jinx that went on in the trade of property so Underground Atlanta can be set up to fail as a destination entertainment spot yet again.Report

      1. Craig Pendergrast March 15, 2018 8:23 am

        Exactly. The golf course developer should be treated and behave no differently than any other developer under the law.Report

    2. Steve Herlihy March 14, 2018 12:45 pm

      Thanks Craig for digging into this!!!
      We appreciate your effortsReport

      1. Craig Pendergrast March 15, 2018 8:22 am

        t’s not too late to get them to do things right(er). Make your voice heard in the neighborhood and elsewhere.Report

  7. Jb March 13, 2018 11:30 am

    Can’t wait to play the new golf courseReport

  8. Ruth March 13, 2018 12:15 pm

    Thanks, Maria, for bringing this travesty to everyone’s attention.Report

  9. Bobby Jones March 13, 2018 1:04 pm

    This indeed is a travesty. As the entire Atlanta area gets chewed up slowly for more townhome associations and shopping centers, it’s not surprise that this is happening. Just wish it would stop.
    So many problems here
    Bitsy Grant is going to be a nightmare for parking

    Does anyone remember playing the back 9 at Charlie Yates?
    That might have been one of the best 18 hole executive courses in the entire nation when it has 18 holes.
    they chopped off 9 for residential or something
    Now bobby jones is going to be another 9 hole mess – super overcrowded , with a tiny driving range
    bring your helmets!Report

    1. You are not Bobby Jones March 13, 2018 2:54 pm

      The back 9 of Charlies Yates became Drew High School. The East Lake Foundation owned the course and is using that section to stop the poverty cycle in the East Lake community. There is another 27 holes of golf still available for play.Report

  10. Kathleen L March 13, 2018 2:46 pm

    This is SO Atlanta: cut down beautiful, old, irreplaceable trees for something new and sterile. All in the name of . . . golf? It’s shameful.Report

    1. LAWRENCE J FOGEL March 13, 2018 8:22 pm

      Yes it is shameful, and ignorant!

  11. Anna Tillman March 13, 2018 4:37 pm

    It is particularly shameful when the Atlanta office of Resiliency spends an enormous amount of time and tax money to promote “clean energy” while at the same time other City of Atlanta offices allow developers to clear cut thousands of trees. The tree canopy is being decimated at an alarming rate – preserving the canopy would do more for reducing CO2 emissions than anything the office of resiliency will come up with. Of course the office of resiliency isn’t addressing the real problem of EPA nonattainment air quality (cars, planes, and trucks), they are only addressing electricity that is not generated in Atlanta – absolute insanity. City of Atlanta residents lose all the way around!Report

  12. Carolyn H. Rader March 13, 2018 8:06 pm

    This is appalling. It is as appalling or more so, due to the age and size of some of these trees, as the State of Georgia’s tree massacre on I-16 and I-95, lying to the public saying it is for highway safety, not for billboard advertising, which is the real truth. No public input, no plan, no data to back up their claim of how dangerous trees are to motorists. Clear cut medians are causing sediment filled run off.Report

  13. Paige Bridgman March 13, 2018 10:57 pm

    Please do a better job of explaining and outlining the the exact plans that are in place for re-planting of trees and new foliage.Report

    1. Craig Pendergrast March 15, 2018 8:29 am

      The only tree planting plan they have is to plant trees along Northside Drive on the edge of the new tennis courts and along the edges of the new entry drive that will extend due east from the Northside Drive/McKinley/Wilson intersection. They have no plans to plant any replacement trees anywhere on the golf course, the driving range, along the creeks, or elsewhere. As for any possible additional tree replacement, they’ve said something to the effect of “maybe, some day, if we feel like it.”Report

  14. eleanor ringel cater March 13, 2018 11:12 pm

    “What I want to emphasize is that this project is a lot more than the trees,” Elgison said. “It will be a better piece of property in every single way except for the trees.”

    —–Marty Elgison, president of the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation

    This may be my favorite quote of the year.


    1. BARBARA March 18, 2018 2:36 pm

      Truly. Brainless.Report

  15. Tom Findley March 13, 2018 11:28 pm

    isnt Rutherford Seydels son the head tree hugger for the city? If so why didnt HE tell his dad about what was going on. I knew what was happening and it went like this Kasim Reed needed to make another couple million before he left office. this was to come from the underground deal. But first he needed parking so he horse traded (probably tied into MB Stadium) Chris Riley and Nathan deal for the parking lot. Nathan Deal who never plays golf and Chris Riley who hates Buckhead didnt give two hoots what happened to the course cause they dont live here but Arthur Blank needed parking and Chris and Nathan needed Arthurs $$$ so the swap was made. it was that simple.Report

    1. Chris Johnston March 18, 2018 10:42 am

      The son is the Director of Sustainability in the Office of Resilience in the City.Report

    2. Chris Johnston March 18, 2018 11:21 am

      The son has a degree in politics and communications, and fancies himself a shaker and mover. As Director of Sustainability he should have a degree in science or engineering.Report

  16. Gail Driebe March 14, 2018 2:19 am

    The AMPC distancing itself (quoting the unnamed spokesperson in Melanie Bass Pollard’s post above) is disingenuous, as usual. Marty Elgison was a founding board member of AMPC. He and other board members felt the City’s approval process was taking to long, and taking too much public opinion into account, so they cooked up the swap scheme with Lt. Gov. (and candidate for Governor) Casey Cagle and then-Mayor Kasim Reed.The BJGCF plan is essentially the same as AMPC’s: 9-hole course, a driving range, kiddie course, multi-level parking deck, new clubhouse in the center of the project. I was at a meeting when Catherine Spillman said, and I am almost quoting, “If the trees get in the way of playing golf, the trees have to go.” There isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between AMPC and BJGCF, just different favored developers.The only parts of BJGC’s plan not in AMPC’s original plan is an absurd golf museum, a concept that failed abysmally in Augusta. (If you can’t support a golf museum in Augusta, you can’t do it in Atlanta.), and a “State Golf Headquarters.” I will have my head handed to me for saying this, but golf is not that important now and will be less so as the years go by.

    Now the AMPC (again, as said by the anonymous AMPC representative in Melanie Bass Pollard’s post) is turning it’s digging and dozing equipment on the natural park on the west side of Northside Drive.They will destroy more trees for a completely unneeded impervious sidewalk and paved interior trails, ALL in the flood plain, all within in the stream bank buffer, all in violation of the law. Their “improved drainage” will increase storm water run-off and flooding, not mitigate it. AMPC has zero concern for the environment, pollution of our water and flooding of homes in the flood plain. They’re hell-bent on developing a very environmentally sensitive area that was never meant for paving and building. They have schemed and planned covertly since 2011. Remember, the 9-hole golf course was their plan, and they pressed relentlessly, manipulating neighborhood associations, the news media (who are culpable for their feckless support of the drivel put out by AMPC).Trees Atlanta has tragically put their weight behind a plan to use Round-up, Element One and other carcinogenic substances in the wetlands and creek banks. None of this is legal under the City’s flood plain protection laws. It isn’t legal under Federal law or State law. It is horrifying that AMPC was given free reign by the previous administration and not re-examined by the current one because of something they called a “Feasibility Study” which was a misnomer It was a construction plan.They have been selling a false notion that Wesley Drive is dangerous because some people walk on our very quiet street. Others prefer the unpaved trails around and in the park. There will no longer be a choice for walkers and runners wanting to protect their joints on soft surfaces.They plan more construction and tree loss in the flood plain. It will hurt those neighborhoods downstream as much as those in the immediate area.

    People are waking up too late to Bobby Jones. It’s almost too late for Memorial Park. AMPC has nonsensical reasoning (“we need more green space”,although their plan decreases green space). Another is that Wesley Drive and Woodward Way are very dangerous. “Children will be killed, and if you’re against paving, you really want dead children!” There hasn’t been a pedestrian accident since 1948 when the neighborhood was built. It is a low speed, low traffic street, the perimeter of the park has plenty of room, and this area will be even less used by pedestrians and runners as the trails on the east side are completed. Park Pride has allowed its reputation to be sullied by supporting this group.The Watershed Management Commissioner has abdicated her responsibility. WM is interested only in multi-million dollar construction projects, not in clean waterways.The Office of Resiliency, as Anna Tillman said, has zero concern for preserving our CO2 uptake and rainwater absorption assets. AMPC has quietly seen to the loss of many healthy trees on Woodward Way (Westside) already with more to come down. They won’t even leave a dead tree for the use of birds and bats because they don’t understand anything beyond their personal aesthetic.Report

    1. Supporter of the park March 15, 2018 8:50 pm

      From someone who personally knows Catherine Spillman, the executive director of Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy (AMPC), I have the upmost respect and admiration for her character, steadfast work effort and leadership to help improve the park. The personal insults and attacks are completely unfounded and wrong. These claims and statements are false and hurtful, and they should cease.

      Separately, my family has been thrilled with the improvements at the park and I believe a lot of credit should be directed to AMPC and Catherine. The new playground installation was spearheaded by AMPC in a partnership with the City of Atlanta parks department, Park Pride and private citizens. Remember the old playground that was contaminated periodically with sewage? Additionally, AMPC has been working with the Department of Watershed to find ways to reduce flooding and sewage contamination, e.g., the trucks on Wesley Drive have been siphoning debris from two overflow pipes, watershed is relining the 96″ Peachtree sewage trunk pipe that runs through the park to reduce overflows, AMPC aided watershed in obtaining a federal grant to help improve the eroding stream banks along Peachtree Creek and AMPC notifies Watershed every time logs and debris are stuck underneath Northside during and after high rains. AMPC is a non-profit organization working with the community to improve the park.

      Lastly, the redo of the golf course is a totally separate matter. The Bobby Jones Golf Foundation group should be held accountable. They are the author of these golf course changes and they should abide by all rules and regulations. As a community and neighborhood, we should hold them accountable and that goes for all of us.Report

      1. Gail Driebe March 15, 2018 11:47 pm

        Actually, in the 13 months since the new playground has been open, it has been contaminated at least twice by sewer overflows.Report

        1. A Park Neighbor March 17, 2018 1:27 pm

          Fake news, once again. The new playground HAS NOT been contaminated since opening. Some of the land around it was affected during some flooding, but not the playground – clear evidence that the efforts to move the playground to higher ground were sound. Further, NO SPILLS have occured in the park since Dept of Watershed, working with AMPC and other helpful citizens on the Technical Advisory Group, began work to clean out the overflow pipes. This is part of a massive effort designed to ELIMINATE ALL SPILLS in the park.Report

    2. Supporter of the park March 16, 2018 8:12 am

      From someone who personally knows Catherine Spillman, the executive director of Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy (AMPC), I have the upmost respect and admiration for her character, steadfast work effort and leadership to help improve the park. The personal insults and attacks are completely unfounded and wrong. These claims and statements are false and hurtful, and they should cease.

      Separately, my family has been thrilled with the improvements at the park and I believe a lot of credit should be directed to AMPC and Catherine. The new playground installation was spearheaded by AMPC in a partnership with the City of Atlanta parks department, Park Pride and private citizens. Remember the old playground that was contaminated periodically with sewage? Additionally, AMPC has been working with the Department of Watershed to find ways to reduce flooding and sewage contamination, e.g., the trucks on Wesley Drive have been siphoning debris from two overflow pipes, watershed is relining the 96″ Peachtree sewage trunk pipe that runs through the park to reduce overflows, AMPC aided watershed in obtaining a federal grant to help improve the eroding stream banks along Peachtree Creek and AMPC notifies Watershed every time logs and debris are stuck underneath Northside during and after high rains. AMPC is a non-profit organization working with the community to improve the park.

      Lastly, the redo of the golf course is a totally separate matter. The Bobby Jones Golf Foundation group should be held accountable. They are the author of these golf course changes and they should abide by all rules and regulations. As a community and neighborhood, we should hold them accountable and that goes for all of us.Report

  17. Wormser Hats March 14, 2018 12:07 pm

    Once again, what was once “the city too busy to hate,” has become too self-absorbed to care. ..and the outrage always happens too late. Why?

    Many of our politicians and bureaucrats are so incompetent that they fear the power of proactive public involvement.

    The recent loss of so many trees at the hands of public officials is the “canary in the coal mine.” Atlanta is threatened by a far greater menace than mere gentrification. Our citizenry really must lead at a grassroots level in their respective communities, if we’re ever to transcend the arrogance of elitism that threatens our city with perpetual mediocrity.Report

  18. blackcatprowl March 14, 2018 1:17 pm


  19. ProtectOurTrees March 14, 2018 9:42 pm

    This is a travesty just like the destruction undertaken to build the new Mercedes headquarters office. We are ruining the heritage and uniqueness of Atlanta. Pretty soon, this city will look just like Dallas — a big, sprawling, ugly city that no one wants to visit. It will be ten degrees hotter, too, because old-growth trees help keep the temperature down.

    Maybe it’s time to move.Report

  20. The outrage and fury at what has been done is certainly justified. However, what is needed now is coordinated action to put pressure on the BJGF, the State and the Mayor, to compel BJGF to remedy the situation to extent possible.

    Craig Pendergrast has done a great job of mobilizing concern. I would suggest that he now be asked to help organize a petition for all of us to sign, together with our neighbors and other interested groups. The petition would call on BJGF to take responsibility for replanting as many trees and native plants as feasible on the golf course itself, and equally importantly, around the perimeter, even though BJGF has said they have no responsibility for the surrounding areas. The 100 trees in their plan is clearly inadequate.

    The AMPC, the PATH Foundation and Trees Atlanta, have already been involved and need to be a part of the process. It would also be necessary to have a golf course consultant to verify any proposal that BJGF puts forward, since they have certainly not been straightforward or forthcoming up to now.

    An addition to the petition, may be a law suite, but I defer to Craig in that regard.Report

    1. BARBARA March 18, 2018 2:43 pm

      Here hereReport

  21. Cedric Suzman March 15, 2018 9:50 pm

    I completely agree that AMPC has been doing an excellent job of improving Memorial Park and is also playing an important role in the Peachtree Creek boundary of the golf course and old club house. Catherine Spillman has been a strong leader in the conflict with BJGF and will I am sure work to ensure that the creek is protected.Report

  22. A Park Neighbor March 16, 2018 8:59 am

    I want to speak up on behalf of Catherine Spillman. The attacks on her character are entirely unfair. She is dedicated to making Atlanta Memorial Park a green and connected park with vastly improved watershed. We are very fortunate to have her leadership.

    Not only have the personal attacks been factually incorrect, they should be recognized for what they are: a victimization by a small-minded individual intent on spreading misinformation about her and the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy. This is wrong, and really needs to stop.

    Ms. Spillman and AMPC are doing good work for our park. The State of Georgia is responsible for the golf course and the tree removal, and should rightfully be held to account.Report

    1. Supporter of the park March 16, 2018 9:30 am

      That’s exactly right. Right there with you, “A Park Neighbor.”Report

  23. A Park Neighbor March 16, 2018 10:07 am

    Thank you Maria Saporta, Craig Pendergast and Catherine Spillman!Report

    1. A Park Neighbor March 16, 2018 5:20 pm

      … and others who are trying to help.Report

  24. Maria Saporta March 16, 2018 10:56 am

    Dear readers, thank you all for sharing your thoughts and ideas about what brought us tothis point. A special thanks to all of you who are focused on improving the situation going forward. I would like to remind readers that SaportaReport encourages civil discourse. Let’s try to focus on the issues rather than making personal attacks. Let’s take pride in advancing the conversation in a respectful way. And let us figure out how we can stop this from ever happening again. Thank you all. MariaReport

  25. John R. Adams March 16, 2018 6:10 pm

    Several people have raised questions about the Pruning Project. You can see the documents on the AMPC FAQ page; look in section 9 of the FAQ for the question “Tell me about the Tree Pruning Project on the passive (west) side of the park.” http://atlmemorialpark.org/faq/Report

  26. CBoyd March 16, 2018 10:14 pm

    AND, let’s please don’t forget the ultimate tragedy of Piedmont Hospital’s expansion. A pitiful site!!Report

  27. Jessica Moore March 17, 2018 1:45 pm

    Maria, thank you for the story and for encouraging us to focus on improving this matter and discussions moving forward.

    Neighbors, readers and commentators alike, keeping conversations focused on the matters at hand, alive, and civil is exactly what is going to improve this and future situations and hopefully deliver a win for as many stakeholders as possible in each and every instance.

    Personal attacks are nothing more than an individual’s frustration coupled with a lack of ability to express and articulate it in an informed or appropriate way. The Internet has made it easier than ever to namecall and mud sling. It is a lot easier to point fingers and make fun of someone online than to sit across the table from (or God forbid next to) them, look them in the eye, and work out solutions to a problem.

    It seems to me that a reasonable solution to the “Bobby Jones tree massacre” is still possible if we can get everyone together to figure it out. I do acknowledge and recognize the trees that have been taken down are gone and it is too late to undo the sad decimation of so many beautiful old trees.

    Since multiple people have spoken out on behalf of Catherine Spillman, I would like to put in a good word for Marty Elgison. He is a long-term resident of Atlanta and deeply involved in the Buckhead community. I am positive he is more than willing to work with others to bring about an outcome that benefits as many people (and trees) as possible.

    A special shout out and thanks to Gail Driebe who remains informed and involved in issues that impact our community and takes the time to explain situations to those of us who don’t have the knowledge or time to research an issue.

    We are where we are and this is what it is at this point. The best thing we can all do is make the most of the situation we are in and work toward the best possible outcome for this matter.

    What that outcome is should depend on the input of more than a handful of political stakeholders, whilst not dying on the vine with an eternal decision by committee process.

    “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.Report

  28. Hank March 18, 2018 8:56 am

    How ironic that the story quotes ole Ruthafuhd Seydel, an expert in losing things near and dear to Atlantan’s hearts as he was complicit in the departure of the Thrashers. I’m sure he and his old suhthuhn money hillbilly, buhbuhn-swilling ilk will be first to try out the new links. LOLReport

  29. Bob Cupp March 18, 2018 9:50 am

    Few things in life and our community are less important than golf.

    The only people who care about golf is the shrinking population of golfers.

    Bobby Jones was a golfer. A great golfer. But he didn’t walk on water. If the desecration of one of Atlanta’s Gems is what it takes to to build something “that lives up to the Bobby Jones name” then congratulations.

    I’ve got koozie’s and an ugly polo shirt that are also tarnishing the Bobby Jones name. I use the shirt for yard work and the koozies to cool my beer. Thanks Mr. Jones.

    Jones surviving disciples have succeeded in showing us what the real face of golf and a few backroom elites looks like: Self-absorbed idiots with too much influence and money.

    You should have just taken your precious “Bobby jones” name off of one of Atlanta’s most beautiful public parks and just left it at that, for the rest of the non-golfers to enjoy. It would have saved millions of dollars and 1000 trees. The legacy that is created here is just another “great course” that only a few citizens will enjoy or care about. Great design Bob Cupp. Would it have killed you to leave a few trees? Oh wait, you died just after designing this sanctuary for hybrid Bermuda grass. The curse of Bobby Jones.Report

  30. Tom Scardino April 22, 2018 9:11 pm

    The news organizations in this city should file a Freedom of Information demand for the arborist’s report to see and publish the tree inventory and health. How the very government we elect to enforce tree laws can so easily – even cynically – go around those same laws makes us all look like fools.

    The anger at the Bobby Jones tree clear-cut is not abating. We attended the meetings, we wrote emails, we contacted our politicians. Did any of it make a difference? No, it did not.

    Even if they replaced the 800 trees with 10″ caliper, as they absolutely should, those new trees wouldn’t have the character or majesty of a 100 or 150 year old tree. Even if a tree that large and old is diseased, it’s still beautiful to many of us taxpayers and voters.

    Having golf for more people and more kids is fine, but it misses the point. We value the trees AS MUCH AS the golf. And so do the golfers.

    Wake up. Vote for people who honestly see the real value of stately, heritage trees, and not view them as enemies to bull dozens. A creative golf course architect would have saved many of those trees and laid out a 50 year plan for the care and planting of even more.Report

  31. Cedric Suzman April 23, 2018 12:27 am



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