By John Schaffner
For the second month in a row, the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods discussed the balance of parks and green space in two Atlanta City Council districts and a study Dist. 7 Councilman Howard Shook has initiated to find opportunities for additional green spaces in his area.
At the April BCN meeting, North Buckhead Civic Association President Gordon Certain told the group about the study Shook had arranged to have done to inventory existing park and green spaces in District 7 and to identify ways the amount could be expanded.
At that time, Certain said District 8 also lacked adequate park and green spaces and should be added to the study, which is being conducted for the Buckhead Community Improvement District by BATMA (Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association).
Shook claims District 7 is last in park and green space acreage among all of the council districts with only about 70 total acres. By comparison, he points out that District 8 has 502 acres, which includes Chastain Park, the largest park in the city, and Atlanta Memorial Park.
Responding to a phone call he received from Shook, Certain again brought up the issue during the May 13 BCN meeting. During that meeting, he also said 4,000 high-rise condo units had been added to Buckhead and said there is not even space for these residents to walk their dogs.
Certain has since sent an e-mail correcting the number to about 2,000 condo units. However, a large number of those units remain unsold at this time and some of the condo buildings have included dog walks on their property for residents’ use.
BATMA Executive Director Denise Starling said there were initial thoughts of having the Green Space Action Plan—as it is being called—include all of Buckhead, “but there were issues of cost and focus. The focus is more on urban issues with green space” in high-density development areas, she said.
Starling reported on May 19, “We have received proposals from several very qualified teams. The proposals are very strong and I am pleased with the quality. It is going to be a tough choice! What a great problem to have! We have a selection committee evaluating those proposals and will conduct interviews of the short-listed teams in early June.”
She said BATMA has engaged organizations with green space experts such as Park Pride, the Trust for Public Land and the city’s Parks and Recreation staff “to help guide us in this effort. We have not formally put together the steering committee for the effort and have not even identified the funding for the effort yet,” she added. “We will, of course, be asking the CID for some funding, but they will be looking for other sources of funds to come to the table to support the effort as well.”
During the May 13 meeting, BCN President Jim King said that although Chastain Park is listed as having over 250 acres, 160 of those acres is taken up by the golf course. He said, “Only about 25 to 35 acres are accessible for public use. That park serves the whole north end of Buckhead. With the golf course, it looks like we have a lot, but we don’t really have a lot that is accessible to the public.”
The golf course at Chastain Park is a public facility, as are the tennis courts and the ballfields and recreation center.
King said there is a lot of land within the golf course that they have been talking about trying to free up—principally that controlled by Watershed Management for a maintenance operation.
Certain told the neighborhood representatives there are a number of measures as to whether parkland is adequate. “For instance, if you can’t get to the park” it is not useful, he said. “A park should be within a half mile in order to be useful.”
Certain urged each BCN neighborhood to take an inventory of the parkland available within a half-mile of residents.”
“Certainly there is no money available for buying parkland now,” Certain said. “But my experience is that every so often money does become available. If you have a plan you have a better chance of getting that money.”
In other action, the BCN heard from a south Buckhead resident about concerns of a possible relocation of the ladder truck from Fire Station 29 on Armour Drive to the new fire station at Atlantic Station.
The resident explained that the problem is that the coverage area of Station 29 goes all the way up Piedmont Road to Pharr Road, which includes a large section of Neighborhood Planning Unit B territory.
He said Station 29 also the second responder for the high rise condo buildings along Peachtree Road north of Pharr Road.