Atlanta to boost flood resilience by creating another ecologically-restorative park

Back in 2016, readers of REVITALIZATION discovered how the Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta, Georgia became part of the city’s flood resilience solution in this article.

Now, the frequently-flooded Boone Park West neighborhood of Atlanta has come up with a similar ecologically restorative solution, and will open in 2019. It will be The Conservation Fund’s (TCF) third Park With Purpose in Atlanta, following the successful completion of Lindsay Street Park and the expansion of Vine City Park.

What the park site looks like today.
Image courtesy of TCF.

Working with residents and grassroots organizations in some of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, TCF is reclaiming and restoring urban lands that have long been neglected.

These new parks not only provide safe places for kids to play and for families and residents to gather, but also reduce the impacts of stormwater flooding.

They also help revitalize the local economy by providing green job opportunities for community members.

The neighborhoods within Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Watershed, including Vine City and English Avenue, have long suffered from the negative effects of combined sewer overflows, economic disinvestment, social and educational challenges, and lack of greenspace.

Working in partnership with Park Pride, a local nonprofit focused on improving Atlanta’s park system and the City of Atlanta Department of Parks & Recreation and Office of Sustainability, TCF is implementing a broad plan (Proctor Creek North Avenue Green Infrastructure Vision, Park Pride, 2010) for the two neighborhoods that uses natural greenspaces as a way to reduce polluted stormwater flooding that greatly impacts these communities.

In order to creating lasting change, these parks are being built through a community-driven process that incorporates and elevates the leadership of area residents. TCF is working with neighborhood based groups, such as Community Improvement Association and the English Avenue Neighborhood Association, and grassroots environmental groups, including the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance.

The goal is to ensure that those who have been most impacted in these neighborhoods are given an opportunity to participate and benefit from improvements planned for their communities. Residents will be involved in the visioning, planning and construction of this new park. Partnerships with Greening Youth Foundation and Georgia Build-Up will provide workforce training and job opportunities that will enhance residents’ skill sets and improve their economic outlook. Environmental education partners including Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, ECO-Action and the University Center Development Corporation will help increase ecological awareness among residents, who will become the environmental stewards of the new parks.

As a Park With Purpose, Boone Park West will provide the following benefits to the surrounding communities:

  • Neighbors will be encouraged and empowered to participate in the planning and redevelopment of their community, ensuring they have a voice in the process;
  • Residents will receive paid training in construction, masonry, landscaping and green infrastructure design, as well as financial literacy and other soft skills. They will be employed in the construction of the park;
  • Rain gardens, constructed wetlands and other green infrastructure features will capture stormwater runoff from adjacent streets, reducing the negative impacts of flooding and improving water quality;
  • Ecological functions will be restored in the one of the lowest lying areas of the upper Proctor Creek Watershed;
  • Community members will participate in environmental education and citizen science opportunities, where they will learn about green infrastructure and urban ecology;
  • Blighted and vacant properties will be transformed into a vibrant community asset, providing an anchor for additional investment; and
  • Native plants will be restored to ensure urban habitat is available for native wildlife, including important pollinators like bees, birds and butterflies that support local food systems.

TCF believes that successful conservation should provide long-term community benefits. In addition to providing land acquisition services for our government partners, they engage the community and help plan, design and implement park projects that balance environmental, economic and social benefits. The Conservation Fund, Park Pride, City of Atlanta and many other Atlanta partners are working to build on their successful model that leverages partnerships, funding, community assets and expertise to create these important Parks With Purpose.

Featured rendering of Boone Park West courtesy of HGOR.

See The Conservation Fund website.

Watch this 20-second video to see what the park site currently looks like.

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