Atlanta, GA, Oct. 15, 2008 – Thirty-five acres of blighted industrial lowland across North Avenue from City Hall East are a step closer to transformation into Historic Fourth Ward Park after a groundbreaking ceremony today at the future park site. Construction of a detention pond as part of the Clear Creek Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Capacity Relief Project will pave the way for the development of the first park in the emerald necklace that will ultimately be Atlanta’s BeltLine. Land for the park was first secured by the Trust for Public Land in 2004.
“The City of Atlanta is thrilled to be part of this exciting development,” Mayor Shirley Franklin said. “This park will provide vital greenspace and improve the quality of life for our neighbors in the Historic Fourth Ward.”
Initially, the City had intended to address CSO overflow problems in the Old Fourth Ward area of the Clear Creek Basin by constructing an extension of the West area CSO tunnel. But with construction of the detention pond, the City is reclaiming what was once a wetland and creating a centerpiece for the future park at a cost that is lower than the cost of the tunnel extension. The park will connect several historic neighborhoods and downtown, which have long been separated by racial, economic and physical barriers.
“This is one of those rare public projects that has captured the imagination of everyone involved,” said Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall. “The year-long design process brought residents, stormwater engineers, and landscape architects together as equals around a common table. Because the process respected the core values of the Old Fourth Ward – diversity, innovation, and a commitment to social justice – one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods is now home to its most forward-thinking park.”
The collaborating organizations that are making the Historic Fourth Ward Park possible are:
The BeltLine, which will combine greenspace, trails, transit and new development along 22 miles of historic rail segments that encircle Atlanta, is a solution to the challenges that threaten to limit Atlanta’s health and prosperity: traffic; lack of greenspace and recreation opportunities; and uneven economic development.
“Historic Fourth Ward Park is a shining example of how the BeltLine can facilitate more holistic consideration of our greatest urban infrastructure challenges,” said Atlanta BeltLine Inc. President and CEO Terri Montague. “Beginning with passionate members of the community and continuing through the collaboration with government entities and leveraging of diverse public and private funding, we are delivering urban redevelopment.”
The Department of Watershed Management, which is using the Clear Creek CSO Capacity Relief Project to create an amenity that will be enjoyed by residents in the area, is spending $4 billion to overhaul long-neglected water and sewer infrastructure. The project will help reduce overflows in the low-lying area near City Hall East and provide additional combined sewer capacity for the rapidly growing community.
“This project not only helps eliminate a serious problem, it also provides an attractive and functional amenity,” DWM Commissioner Rob Hunter said. “In 2006, we built a similar retention pond in the Collegetown community of Southwest Atlanta, and residents have been very happy with the results.”
The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs enhances the lives of City of Atlanta residents and visitors by offering programs, services and activities that encourage participation in recreational activities, leisure services and cultural experiences. The department strives to deliver quality customer service through the development, operation and maintenance of the city’s public parks, recreation and cultural affairs facilities to create an environment that is deemed safe, affordable and enriching for all.
“We are looking forward to the development of the park, and working with the Historic Old Fourth Ward Park Conservancy to fulfill the vision for the community,” said Commissioner Dianne Harnell Cohen.
Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states.
The Park Area Coalition is a group of developers, property owners and neighborhood leaders committed to the development of Historic Fourth Ward Park as the centerpiece of a larger, higher density, sustainable urban neighborhood. It was convened as a response to the anticipated significant densification of the Old Fourth Ward and surrounding neighborhoods.
“The BeltLine is the most potentially city-changing project that has ever been undertaken in Atlanta,” said Bob Bridges, Executive Vice President, The Simpson Organization and founding PAC member. “Because of development patterns for intown Atlanta, HFWP is likely to be the most heavily used park that is created as a result of the BeltLine.”
The Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy was formed in 2008 as the non-profit support arm for the Historic Fourth Ward Park. The Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy’s mission includes developing, enhancing, and maintaining the Park to the benefit of the citizens of Atlanta and its many visitors. The Conservancy will provide support beyond that provided by the City of Atlanta, the BeltLine Partnership, Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and other organizations. Funds for adding amenities will be raised through memberships, events and other programs toward making Historic Fourth Ward Park a best-in-class public greenspace.
“Beginning in 2003, the Historic Fourth Ward Park has been a vision that evolved from a singular solution focused on storm water detention to a catalyst for transforming an area to a higher density, higher quality, sustainable urban environment,” said John Perlman of Adams & Co. Real Estate Company, the Acting Chair of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy. “Our initial efforts focus on planning to enhance the City’s maintenance and security of the park through direct contributions. In addition, we hope to raise funds for adding amenities through memberships and other fundraising programs.”
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.