Trails, Paths and the Passive Park (west of Northside Drive)
AMPC is moving forward at the request of the Department of Parks and Recreation to make a difference on the passive green space west of Northside Drive. The current state of this 37 acre Park reflects decades of public neglect and deterioration: trees are dying, invasive plants are increasing and walking trails around the Park have either eroded or are nonexistent, leaving pedestrians to run and walk on the street with vehicular traffic – a hazardous and dangerous combination. The portion of Peachtree Creek that runs through Memorial Park is an environmental and ecological hazard to wildlife and people and is prone to periodic and damaging flooding and erosion.
With the support of individuals and groups who care about Memorial Park, AMPC is revitalizing this area by embarking on the following projects described below.
What is the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study?
The Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study addressed enhanced connectivity, tree canopy preservation and restoration of the native plant communities for the passive side of the park, on the west side of Northside Drive, commonly known as Memorial Park.
What were the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study Goals:
- – Enhance walkability and connectivity
- – Assess, preserve and restore tree canopy
- – Restore native plant communities along Peachtree Creek and the trail system
- – Improve user experience and provide connection to park amenities
- – Address erosion, drainage and flooding issues along the trail system
What were the Memorial Park Walkways Project Findings and Recommendations?
Refer to AMPC’s November 5, 2015 Press Release.
Please explain the scope of services provided by HGOR.
HGOR was contracted to provide perimeter walkway and trail design services for the Memorial Park Walkways Project. The project area consists of approximately thirty-seven (37) acres on the west side of Northside Drive and is bound by Wesley Drive on the south, Woodward Way to the north, Howell Mill Road on the west and Northside Drive to the east. The Trails and Connectivity Master Plan prepared by HGOR serves as the basis for design.
How was the Memorial Park Walkways Project funded?
The Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study was funded by a $50,000 Legacy Grant awarded to AMPC from Park Pride plus $50,000 in matching funds raised from private donations.
What is the latest update on the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study?
On December 10, 2015, AMPC presented the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study findings and recommendations to the City’s Park Design Review (PDR) committee. For an overview of the recommendations, please click here.
The PDR committee reviewed the proposal and is in support of the concept for the improvements to the passive side of the park. In December 2015, the perimeter sidewalk plans were forwarded to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for their initial review and comment. DPW reported back to PDR that they reviewed the plans and did not have any concerns with the conceptual design. With that news, AMPC’s landscape architect firm, Hughes, Good, O’Leary and Ryan (HGOR), is moving forward with the construction document phase.
What is the project schedule for the Memorial Park Walkways Project?
- – Project Kick-Off Meeting/Site Reconnaissance: April 22, 2015
- – Tree Assessment and Topographic Survey Phase: April 2015 through June 2015
- – Feasibility Study Phase: April 2015 through December 2015
- – Construction Document Phase: January 2016 through March 2016
- – Office of Parks and Urban Design Commission Review Phase: December 2015/January 2016 through March 2016
- – Submit Land Disturbance Permit (LDP) plans to Office of Park Design for review/receive comments: July 2016 through August 2016
- – Submit LDP plans to Bureau of Buildings, Watershed Department, State EPD: September 2016
- – LDP review period: 3 – 6 months
- – Bidding and Negotiation/Construction Phase: Thanks to funding from the City of Atlanta, the bidding process is underway with the construction phase estimated to begin in the spring of 2017.
Provide more detail about “raising tree canopy” in the nature area.
Several trees in the park have low hanging, dead limbs that pose a hazard to users of the park. The intent of AMPC when it discusses “raising the tree canopy” is to identify those trees with dangerous, dead limbs that need removal. Other trees may be pruned for the health of the tree or to provide better visibility in areas such as the playground where site lines are important for safety reasons.
Any pruning would be conducted by a certified arborist after receiving the necessary approval from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Furthermore, the tree data that was collected by the arborist (hired by AMPC in 2015 for the Memorial Park Walkways Project Feasibility Study) provides valuable information about the canopy of trees in the park. As mentioned below, AMPC seeks to maintain and enhance the rich and diverse heritage of trees in the park. The tree study, required by the DPR as part of the 2015 Feasibility Study, provides tangible information that can guide decisions for proper tree care so that this treasured tree canopy can be better maintained for park goers to enjoy for generations to come.
How would AMPC maintain improved trails after flooding [as witnessed in January 2014]?
Maintenance plans will be designed specific to location and materials of individual improvements. In addition to the actual implementation of each phase, sustainability programs will be designed by each team. AMPC was founded with the intent of existing in perpetuity so that the proposed improvements are sustained in a manner appropriate to each phase.
Were surrounding neighborhoods included in the decisions on final width of and materials used for any trail or path?
The Memorial Park neighborhood which is directly impacted by improvements to the passive parklands west of Northside Drive currently has 3 members of the Memorial Park Civic Association on AMPC’s Parks Committee to provide input and feedback during the Memorial Park Walkways Project. The six neighborhoods adjacent to the Park as well as the Castlewood neighborhood also enjoy permanent and active representation on AMPC’s Board to provide additional feedback. AMPC regularly updates all board members and Parks Committee members so that they can communicate with and be a conduit for their respective neighborhood.
Will residents continue to have input to help ensure the park’s passive use?
The mission of the Parks Committee of the Conservancy includes this specific function. AMPC is also working in conjunction with the Memorial Park Civic Association (MPCA). MPCA is represented on the board by one neighborhood representative from Memorial Park. In addition, 3 MPCA members are members of AMPC’s Parks Committee. In 2014, MPCA adopted resolutions to provide guidance for the implementation of the proposed AMPC Master Plan as it relates to Memorial Park which is a guiding tool for AMPC as it studies improving the paths and trails in Memorial Park. In 2014, 78 of the 88 MPCA members that responded to a survey conducted by MPCA supported the draft Master Plan.
After a period of heavy rains in 2013, most of the sewer lids surrounding Memorial Park were ‘bubbling’ over into the park, playground, and creek. Do you know if this was recorded and documented to help designers fully appreciate the ebb and flow of flooding, erosion, and sewer leaks that impact our part of Memorial Park in particular?
This particular issue has been front and center for the Conservancy. Thanks to three very active neighbors we have outstanding video footage and stills of that rain event and the consequential sewage overflows. This was submitted to the master plan firm and was a part of the January 16, 2014 presentation as well as part of the document submitted to DPR.
Memorial Park Walkways Project – Tree Survey Questions
What do the silver markers with red tape on many of the trees in Memorial Park indicate?
The tags are a unique identifier for each tree that corresponds with both the information AMPC collected as well as a specific location captured in the survey. AMPC and DPR now have the resources to not only see a tree in the field, but can now look up the species and size, if desired. The tags and nails are aluminum so they will not corrode and may only cause the damage equivalent to a paper cut.
The City required at least all trees that might be impacted by any trail improvements be surveyed (sized and located at a minimum). Again, by knowing the what and where of the trees, trail improvements can be planned in a way that minimizes the impact to the trees and ideally those impacts can be mitigated. If any trees must be removed it is only those that might be hazardous so the park can be safely enjoyed for years to come.
Who tagged the trees in Memorial Park?
The passive portion of Memorial Park was surveyed by a professional engineering firm in concert with an arborist who is certified through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and is a Registered Consulting Arborist. The arborist placed specific tags on park trees based on tree size and tree location within the park as captured by the survey.
Why are some trees tagged and others are not?
The City of Atlanta requires that all trees 2.5″ in diameter and greater that are within 25 feet of an existing or a proposed walkway or nature trail be surveyed and tagged. Now that these trees have been identified, trail layout and improvements can be planned in order to minimize any impact to the trees in the park.
What trees are going to be cut down in Memorial Park?
If any trees must be removed, it is only those that might be hazardous, dead, dying or diseased. The City of Atlanta must permit any removal of these trees. The arborist has assessed the health condition of all of the tagged trees as noted in the response to “Tell me more about the surveying of the trees?” below.
What is being done to preserve the tree canopy in the passive portion of Memorial Park?
The tree data that was collected by the arborist provides valuable information about the canopy of trees in the park. Tree size, location and health have been recorded. AMPC seeks to maintain and enhance the rich and diverse heritage of trees in the park. The tree study provides tangible information that can guide decisions for proper tree care so that this treasured tree canopy can be better maintained for park goers to enjoy for generations to come.
Tell me more about the surveying of the trees?
Within public property in Atlanta (parks, right of way, etc.), all trees over 2.5” in trunk diameter are protected. If a tree is determined to be unhealthy or structurally unsound and the City agrees, the City will issue a DDH (Dying, Diseased, or Hazardous) permit and allow for the removal without the need to plant new trees.
In Atlanta’s tree ordinance, a specimen tree is simply an exceptionally large tree. These are over 30” trunk diameter for canopy trees (oaks, pines, hickories) and over 10” trunk diameter for understory trees (dogwoods, cherries, etc.). The City prefers all efforts be made to conserve these trees.
The assessment currently underway in Memorial Park is technically a Canopy Dynamics Study. It allows for AMPC and DPR to continue the rich heritage of trees in the park and provides additional information that can guide decisions for tree care. Because of the ongoing study, AMPC and DPR now have hard data on at least a portion of the trees in Memorial Park. With this, AMPC and DPR can determine the following:
• Species distribution to help make decisions about which trees are represented and what might be the most appropriate species to plant.
− 55 different species are represented, but 25% are pines (221).
• Size (age) distribution that may help shed light on how the population is likely to trend over the next 10-15 years.
− 63 canopy trees are over 30” diameter (large specimens).
• Tree health distribution
− 28.5% Excellent (248)
− 34.3% Good (298)
− 25.1% Fair (218)
− 11.5% Poor (100)
− .6% Dead (5)
According to AMPC’s arborist, the above is a good distribution. However, the number of Fair trees is slightly higher than normal. Some of those Fair trees could be returned to Good or Excellent condition. Others are growing very closely with another tree and this “shared base” is not a good long term spacing.
The tags are a unique identifier for each tree that corresponds with both the information AMPC collected as well as a specific location captured in the survey. AMPC and DPR now have the resources to not only see a tree in the field, but could then look up the species and size, if desired. The tags and nails are aluminum so they will not corrode and may only cause the damage equivalent to a paper cut.
Finally, the City required at least all trees that might be impacted by any trail improvements be surveyed (sized and located at a minimum). Again, by knowing the what and where of the trees, trail improvements can be planned in a way that minimizes the impact to the trees and ideally those impacts can be mitigated. If any trees must be removed it is only those that might be hazardous so the park can be safely enjoyed for years to come.
What is the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy (AMPC)?
The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission to restore, enhance and preserve Atlanta Memorial Park, making it a beautiful, connected and sustainable urban green space for the enjoyment of all.
AMPC’s ongoing efforts and committed focus are on three key areas within Atlanta Memorial Park:
– green space
Why was the AMPC formed?
In 2011, Atlanta Memorial Park was one of the few regional parks within the City of Atlanta that did not have a master plan. Implementing restoration efforts in collaboration with pending and approved municipal work done in the area ensures the community has a park that is highly useful to their needs with the assistance of a public/private partnership for funding.
Who is spearheading AMPC?
The Board of Directors consists of one permanent liaison from the six neighborhood associations contiguous to the Park as well as at large members.
In April of 2014, the Board of Directors hired an Executive Director.
What would happen if the community were to keep status quo of the park & its facilities?
The current state of Atlanta Memorial Park reflects decades of public neglect and deterioration: trees are dying, invasive plants are increasing, and walking trails around the park and golf course have either eroded or are nonexistent. The portion of Peachtree Creek that runs through the Park is an environmental hazard and prone to periodic and damaging floods and erosion. Due to limited municipal funding appropriated for upkeep, the Park is experiencing degradation due to use and time. As the park degrades overtime it becomes less of an amenity to the surrounding community.
Who has the ultimate authority to make decisions regarding Memorial Park and what will their decision be based on?
The City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation is the ultimate decision maker on issues regarding the Park.
Can you clarify who the stakeholders are that comprise the Conservancy and how residents can participate or feel directly engaged in the conversation?
The stakeholders are the six neighborhoods adjacent to the park property as well as additional neighborhoods in the immediate areas. They are currently Memorial Park, Springlake, Collier Hills, Collier Hills North, Peachtree Battle Alliance, Brandon, and Castlewood. Residents may communicate directly with their neighborhood board liaison and/or any neighbors that serve on specific committees. Residents may also communicate directly with the Department of Parks and Recreation.
What can I do to help?
What is the best way for me to be involved?
Volunteering for an upcoming clean up day and supporting AMPC financially are two great ways to start. To volunteer, contact AMPC by clicking on “contact” at the bottom of the home page. To donate, click on the “Donate & Join” tab in the top right corner of the home page. Financial support is welcome at any level:
- $25 Supporter
- $100 Family
- $250 Patron
- $500 Charter
- $1000+ Legacy
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, the Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy, Inc. is a Georgia non-profit company that has been granted 501(c) (3) status. The Conservancy is also eligible for matching corporate funds and accepts stock donations.