FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Catherine Spillman
ATLANTA MEMORIAL PARK CONSERVANCY PRESENTS REVERSIBLE 9 HOLE/PRACTICE FACILITY DRAFT MASTER PLAN AT CITY OF ATLANTA’S 2ND ENGAGEMENT MEETING
Atlanta – June 2, 2015 – On Monday evening, June 1, 2015, the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy presented its 9 hole/practice facility draft Master Plan followed by a Q&A. A second presentation from a member of the Friends of Bobby Jones Golf Course proposed maintaining the existing 18 hole course with minor improvements.
In the AMPC presentation, AMPC board President, Kirk Billings, and AMPC Executive Director, Catherine Spillman, gave an overview on the formation of the Conservancy, discussed the current issues in the park and how the draft Master Plan resolves those issues. Also discussed were the recent accomplishments by AMPC to improve Atlanta's 3rd largest park.
Formed in 2011 as a 501(c)(3), the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy has nearly 600 members and has raised over $400,000 in donations and pledges to date. Spillman stated that AMPC's efforts are focused on seeking better ways to utilize one of Atlanta's greatest assets, Atlanta Memorial Park, for the greatest number of users. Citing the Trust for Public Land, Spillman shared that Atlanta has less than half the park space of comparable metropolitan areas so it is imperative that the City fully leverage what it already has.
Issues needing to be addressed within the park include:
- Watershed/creek conditions
- Passive park conditions
- Safety both off and on the course
- Youth programming
Spillman explained that the Department of Watershed's Peachtree Creek Improvement Plan, once completed, will allow the Conservancy to apply for EPA's 319h Grant to target drainage and water quality improvements along Peachtree Creek. With additional land to work with under the 9 hole plan, these improvements to our watershed can become a reality.
Spillman also addressed the need for enhanced connectivity. With the PATH Foundation's new Beltline Connector Corridor to the Northwest Beltline Corridor in Tanyard Creek, the future GDOT PATH width sidewalks on Northside Drive and Park Pride's grant award to AMPC to study walkway and trail improvements in Memorial Park, progress has begun make the park safer for pedestrians and better connected to other neighborhoods.
Restoring and revitalizing the passive greenspace is another key component to the Conservancy's plan. Working with the Memorial Park Civic Association, AMPC understands the neighborhood's desire to keep the greenspace passive. By improving the existing walkways and trails, removing DDH (Dead, Dying or Hazardous) trees, invasive species, and restoring the landscape with native materials, the park will maintain its passive state but will be safer and more enjoyable for its users.
Safety both on and off the golf course continues to be an ongoing issue for the park. Billings commented that the existing golf course, sitting on only 128 acres of land, is not safe based on current safety guidelines. In addition, with the modern golf ball traveling so much further than it did when the course was built more than 80 years ago, fellow golfers and pedestrians are at risk of getting injured, as well as vehicles traveling on Northside Drive. The 9 hole option, in contrast, provides for an improved golfing experience with 9 full-length holes built to modern code. Under the 9 hole plan, no unsightly netting is needed on Northside Drive.
Billings also discussed how youth programming is enhanced under the 9 hole/practice facility for both tennis and golf. With 6 additional courts and the relocation of all of the hard courts from the floodplain, the thriving tennis programming run by UTM (Universal Tennis Management) will only get better with the improvements proposed. Under the 9 hole/practice facility plan, the "wee links" course, practice facility and chipping/putting greens will provide ample opportunities to enhance programming and lessen the barriers of entry for all ages.
Access to these amenities will be improved with the proposed new entry on Northside Drive. If the 9 hole/practice facility is approved, AMPC will request that a study be conducted by GDOT, along with neighborhood input, on the best solution for access to the new, consolidated and concealed parking area for the new clubhouse and existing tennis center. Providing safe, pedestrian friendly access to golf & tennis areas and PATH-Beltline is also important to further connect the surrounding neighborhoods. The existing clubhouse will be restored and repurposed for park and community use.
Billings shared with the audience that AMPC's outreach to the donor community shows that there is significant support for the 9 hole/practice facility. Furthermore, if AMPC's draft Master Plan is approved, fundraising efforts will be kicked-off with a $500,000 commitment from GSU and another $250,000 commitment from US Kids Golf Foundation. In closing, Billings read a letter of support for the 9 hole/practice facility plan from Bobby Jones' grandson, Robert T. Jones IV.
Both presentations were followed by a Q&A. All questions and answers will be posted on the City of Atlanta's website with details on the next meeting provided by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
To learn more about the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy and its ongoing efforts to renovate, restore and preserve Atlanta Memorial Park, please visit www.atlmemorialpark.org.