By Clare S. Richie

St. Patrick’s Day weekend, revelers dressed in green filled North Highland Avenue, while more than 100 neighbors and supporters celebrated the Grand Opening of New Highland Park.

Located at the corner of North Highland Avenue and St. Charles Place, the park was purchased by the Virginia-Highland Civic Association in 2008. Since then, thanks to fundraising efforts led by Pamela Papner, the nonprofit has raised more than $200,000 toward the land purchase and $150,000 for the recent construction. Founding donors will soon be recognized on a park plaque and personalized bricks can already be found on the surrounding sidewalks.

Pamela Papner started the dedication, recognizing key players in park’s creation. Paul Burks shepherded VHCA through the process of becoming the first nonprofit to secure financing through the Georgia Environmental Financing Authority. Sandy D’Aprile donated her real estate services. Peter Hughes, a civil engineer, and Peter Frawley, a landscape architect, teamed up on the design that includes a “self-watering” rain garden. Atkins Park neighbors took on the park maintenance prior to construction. Park Pride, represented by Allison Barnett, provided a key $50,000 grant that expedited park construction. City Councilman, Alex Wan, closed the dedication by pledging his commitment to the ongoing success of the park.

On March 16, it was as if spring had arrived early just to celebrate with those gathered at New Highland Park. Osteria 832 and Atkins Park provided a delicious lunch and dessert. And VaHi’s own Darin Seldes and his son rivaled the local taverns with their music.

After the festivities, I headed over to Ten Thousand Villages to make a purchase that would benefit the park. For the rest of March, this local merchant is donating 10 percent of proceeds to the park if you present their ad from Page 6 of the March edition of Atlanta INtown or an In-store flyer.

You can still join in the celebration. Visit the park, make a purchase at Ten thousand Villages, and check out vahi.org to show your support.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.