By Mary Dodson

Mary Dodson

You may have noticed that many area parks and surrounding municipalities in the metropolitan Atlanta area have begun establishing conservancies. A conservancy is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to the protection and stewardship of the environment and natural resources.

Atlanta parks such as Chastain, Grant and Piedmont, have founded conservancies to partner with the city of Atlanta Parks Department to enhance, preserve and maintain the parks and green space within our city. The work they do really benefits all those living in the community. I encourage you to learn about and support your local park conservancy.

I live in the Chastain Park area and have been involved with the Chastain Park Conservancy for a number of years. Founded in 2003, the Chastain Park Conservancy’s mission is to preserve that which makes the park an oasis of natural beauty, while overseeing ongoing improvements designed to enhance the Chastain Park experience for current and future generations of visitors.

Working in cooperation with businesses, the city and other nonprofits, the conservancy has taken a leadership role in not only developing, but also implementing, a 20-year master plan for Chastain Park. The conservancy has completed several major projects outlined in the plan over the last few years. Recent accomplishments include re-building the tennis center, adding new fields, extending the PATH trail and installing safety cameras.

Tennis Center

In 2010, in partnership with the city, the new Chastain Park tennis center was completed. The 2,600-square-foot facility features locker rooms, a conference room, restrooms located on the exterior for public use and an observation deck. The tennis courts were also resurfaced and fencing was installed. This was the first major project completed in the conservancy’s master plan.

Hilltop Fields

Again, in partnership with the city and other organizations including The Galloway School, Northside Youth Organization and Park Pride, the conservancy shared in the cost of demolishing and removing a rusted storage building and adding two new beautiful fields. The fields are being used by NYO and The Galloway School for sports practices and are available for use by park visitors as well.

PATH Extension

A third project recently completed was the extension of the PATH trail. The extension opened up the north end of the park along Powers Ferry Road from West Wieuca to the Red Parking Lot.

Camera Installation

This year, the conservancy installed five new high-tech security cameras. Locations monitored include the playground area, the Powers Ferry and West Wieuca intersection, the Red Lot, and Hilltop Fields. These cameras will be tied into the Atlanta Police Department central station in Buckhead and have the capability to review the video for up to 30 days.

In addition to these projects, the conservancy also provides regular maintenance and upkeep of the park by overseeing and coordinating the efforts of individuals and volunteers groups.

Future improvement projects include developing a new state-of-the-art playground to appeal to a variety of ages, and redesigning the PATH along Powers Ferry from American Legion to the Tennis Center. This will provide more room and a safer path for walkers and joggers.

As you can see, park conservancies provide many benefits and enhancements to the community. However, organizations like the conservancy rely solely on donations from members and friends. I encourage you to learn about and support your local park conservancy – which will in turn make your community a better place.

For more information or to support the conservancy, I invite you to visit their website at

Mary Dodson is a resident of the Chastain Park neighborhood and a member of the Chastain Park Conservancy.