Ron Grunwald, with the Loring Heights Neighborhood Association, shows off a park the neighborhood is renovating.

The Loring Heights neighborhood will this fall be able to play in a renovated park where currently the only visitors are turtles and bullfrogs swimming in the pond.

It’s all part of the plan.

Ron Grunwald, a member of the Loring Heights Neighborhood Association, said when the Atlanta City Council in April adopted a master plan for the community, it firmly established some top priorities. The plan gives the community more control in zoning matters and gives residents a stronger voice in projects that affect them.

“Part of the reason we did the master plan is to identify priorities in the neighborhood,” Grunwald said.

Loring Heights includes parts of Buckhead and is part of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods. Its boundaries are Northside Drive to the west, 1-75 to the north, and the Norfolk Southern rail line to the south.

One of the top priorities was renovating Loring Heights Park, a 1.87 acre city green space at the corner of Loring Drive and North Garden Lane. It was built in the 1940s and the pond was built as a means to capture rainwater runoff.

Soon it will have a playground, and the pond will be an integral part of a neighborhood gathering spot. The project began in June and is expected to be finished by October.

Grunwald said the park plans have been around for three years. Having the master plan helped grease the wheels, he said.

“It helped that we identified this,” Grunwald said as he gave a tour of the park. “This became a top site. We got more funding and this became a priority.”

Loring Heights has spent $220,000 thus far and there’s probably another $150,000 to go, he said. Some of the money came from a settlement from the developers of Atlantic Station after the neighborhood learned a proposed pedestrian bridge wouldn’t be constructed. Money from the settlement also went to develop the master plan.

District 8 Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean provided grant money from her office funds and Grunwald said there’s a Google executive in the neighborhood who has also pitched in.

There are more projects Grunwald and other Loring Heights residents are anxious to complete.

One of the neighborhood’s goals is to implement traffic calming measures and a streetscape on Deering Road, which is in walking distance of south Buckhead neighborhoods. The plan will also protect the community’s interests as the city eyes industrial space and a path for its BeltLine project. The current corridor would take the BeltLine through the northern part of the neighborhood.

Brian O’Neill, president of the neighborhood association, said the master plan also provides residents an objective voice about which projects are most important and will benefit the most people.

He said with development projects such as the BeltLine on the way, it became important to develop a blueprint outlining the community’s needs. While the park project shows a more immediate impact of the plan, he said the plan will continue to benefit Loring Heights in the long term.

“The master plan will help guide us in our conversations with future development,” O’Neill said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com