Update: M&C Action on Boulevard Woods

During a March 13 Mayor and Commission work session meeting, Mayor Nancy Denson asked staff to prepare a review of the Boulevard Woods proposal. This is an important step forward because it gives ACC staff a clear signal that the Mayor and Commission are interested in our proposal.

Thank you Mayor Denson!

We weren't surprised by Denson's helpful request. But the meeting was interesting for other reasons.

The Mayor's request on our behalf came during a presentation by Leisure Services Director Pam Reidy about future goals and strategies for her department.

Reidy announced that Leisure Services future resources would go first to maintaining and repairing ACC's existing network of parks. This makes sense in a time of tight finances. But she also announced that as a general strategy going forward Leisure Services would continue to prefer larger, multi-use parks located on the outskirts of town and continue to de-emphasize smaller neighborhood parks.

There is a logic behind taking this approach: fewer larger parks are easier and therefore cheaper to maintain than lots of little parks.

But Reidy, who has been very helpful with Boulevard Woods to date, acknowledged that there was lively interest in neighborhood parks, and pointed to Boulevard Woods as an example. Because of this interest and because Leisure Service's strategy will be focused on maintenance and larger parks, she and Deputy Manager Bobby Snipes recommended that a review process be established to evaluate proposals for neighborhood parks.

From a county-wide policymaking perspective, this makes sense, too. No one wants to have parks in places that conflict with better uses for the land; nor in neighborhoods that don't want them; nor ones that will be costly to maintain.

We're confident that Boulevard Woods will pass any reasonable review process: we're located on a parcel that would be hard to use any other way; it's a convenient location serving at least three neighborhoods; it's popular; it's low-cost; it's well-designed and it won't cost ACC very much at all. In short, we've done a pretty thorough review process ourselves already. We're ready and eager to move forward now.

There is a lot of support for Boulevard Woods on the commission. Mayor Denson seems very intrigued by the project. Commissioners Kelly Girtz, Mike Hamby, Jared Bailey and Kathy Hoard are all strong supporters. Others Commissioners also seemed impressed with our work so far.

With their help and yours, we'll be pushing for timely action on Boulevard Woods.

Tell Them You Support Boulevard Woods

If you support Boulevard Woods, it's time to contact the Mayor and your Commissioners to let them know.

At their next work session meeting–Tuesday, March 13–the Mayor and Commission will be discussing the Leisure Service Department and its plans and priorities for the future. The discussion is likely to touch on public support for pocket parks and projects like Boulevard Woods.

Mayor Denson let us know about this, and encouraged us to come to the meeting to hear the discussion firsthand. The meeting takes place at the Dougherty St. Government Building, 120 W. Dougherty St., and starts at 5:30 p.m. There are no opportunities for public comment at work session meetings.

But we can make sure that everyone at that meeting knows about Boulevard Woods.

Please take a few moments to write a brief email message to the Mayor and your commissioners in support of Boulevard Woods. And please feel free to contact other commissioners (not just the ones representing your district) you may know as well.

Here's the email message I'll be sending. Feel free to adapt it as you see fit.

* * *

Dear Mayor and Commissioners:

Please support Boulevard Neighborhood Association's plan to create "Boulevard Woods."

You will likely be hearing more about this plan at the upcoming March 13 work session where you are scheduled to discuss the Leisure Service Department's plans and priorities.

Boulevard Woods is a neighborhood-driven plan to create a neighborhood-funded public green space on vacant parcels currently owned by ACC.

Boulevard Woods won't cost ACC very much at all. Neighborhood residents are asking for about $2000 for a safe pedestrian crosswalk, but are planning to fund all other costs of building the park, and they plan to provide for the ongoing maintenance, too.

Boulevard Woods will be a low-cost, easy-to-maintain public green space open from dawn to dusk. No basketball or tennis courts. No water fountains. No lighting. Just a few seating areas, an improved bus stop, a bike rack, a fence for safety, a trash can or two, a place for neighborhood gatherings, a couple of spots to look into wooded areas, a short ADA-approved paved path on top and a nature trail below. 

If the neighborhood association doesn't raise the funds needed for these features, then Boulevard Woods isn't built–and the lots remain as they are now.

Under the plan being put forward by Boulevard Neighborhood Association, the neighborhood association will partner with ACC's Leisure Services Department to develop and supervise a plan for Boulevard Woods. This will be an arrangement much like the existing partnership between ACC and SOBRA (the Athens Chapter of Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association) for multi-use trails on ACC-owned land in East Athens.

Athens Land Trust is willing to help Boulevard Neighborhood Association do the necessary fundraising.

With just a little help from ACC and some luck fundraising, the residents of Boulevard and surrounding neighborhoods will get a much desired neighborhood green space to enjoy. In return, ACC will have leveraged private resources to create a lasting public asset.

Please join fellow commissioners in supporting Boulevard Woods.

Learn more about Boulevard Woods at http://boulevardwoods.net.

Sincerely,

Dan Lorentz

* * *

Email addresses for the Mayor and Commissioners:

Mayor Nancy Denson nancy.denson@athensclarkecounty.com

District 1–Doug Lowry doug.lowry@athensclarkecounty.com

District 2–Harry Sims harry.sims@athensclarkecounty.com

District 3–George Maxwell george.maxwell@athensclarkecounty.com

District 4–Alice Kinman alice.kinman@athensclarkecounty.com

District 5–Jared Bailey jared.bailey@athensclarkecounty.com

District 6–Ed Robinson ed.robinson@athensclarkecounty.com

District 7–Kathy Hoard kathy.hoard@athensclarkecounty.com

District 8–Andy Herod andy.herod@athensclarkecounty.com

District 9–Kelly Girtz kelly.girtz@athensclarkecounty.com

District 10–Mike Hamby mike.hamby@athensclarkecounty.com

Dear Mayor: We Need Your Help

Here's a letter we've just sent to Mayor Nancy Denson asking her to give permission to ACC staff to help us work together to move the Boulevard Woods project forward.

Mayor Denson has already replied: she says she's looking into the logisitics of how she and ACC may be able to help.

This is good news. But it can't hurt to have the Mayor hear from a bunch of us that we need her help now.

Email the Mayor–at nancy.denson@athensclarkecounty.com–and encourage her to let ACC staff continue to work with us on Boulevard Woods.

bnalogoMarch 5, 2012

Mayor Nancy Denson
Athens-Clarke County Unified Government
301 College Ave.
Suite 300
Athens, GA  30601

Re:  Proposal for “Boulevard Woods”

Dear Mayor Denson:

I’m writing on behalf of the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. to ask for your help in creating "Boulevard Woods".

"Boulevard Woods" is a proposal by the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. (BNA) to partner with Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services to establish and maintain a 2.3 acre public green space on three vacant county-owned lots located off of Barber Street where Boulevard ends.

We are proposing a low-cost, easy-to-maintain public green space that is a convenient place for neighbors to relax, bring kids to play safely or take a stroll along a nature trail.

BNA intends to raise the funds and, under the supervision of ACC's Leisure Services Department, coordinate the use of contracted work, volunteer labor and donated materials to build "Boulevard Woods" as well as to provide for its ongoing maintenance.

Please note that we're proposing to make the construction of "Boulevard Woods" contingent on a successful fundraising campaign. If we fail to raise sufficient funds by a certain date, we will not begin construction, and the lots will simply remain vacant as they are now.

In many ways, the framework of our proposal is similar to the recently executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Athens Chapter of Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SOBRA) and ACC's Leisure Services Department that allowed SOBRA–under supervision by Leisure Services–to construct and maintain multi-use trails on county-owned property in East Athens. Like SOBRA, we're seeking an agreement with ACC Leisure Services to establish a partnership to create and maintain "Boulevard Woods."

We've already invested a lot time and work into this project for our neighborhood. To move forward at this point, we need your help.

Specifically, we'd like to ask you to direct ACC Leisure Services staff and the staff of any other relevant departments (e.g. Transportation and Public Works, Planning, Attorney’s Office and Athens Transit) to continue assisting Boulevard Neighborhood Association in developing (1) an appropriate plan for "Boulevard Woods" and (2) a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a "Boulevard Woods" partnership between BNA and ACC Leisure Services.

To date ACC staff from multiple departments have been very responsive in answering our questions and helping us address planning challenges. We've been advised that they need a green light from you to continue helping us. (While we've already done much of the work, there are few details involving, for example, a crosswalk and a bus stop will require closer cooperation with ACC departments to complete.)

When the time comes, we would also like to ask for your help in making sure "Boulevard Woods" is put on the agenda for any required consideration or action by the Mayor and Commission.

For more details about "Boulevard Woods," including a concept drawing, please refer to the attachments to this letter. You may also want to visit our web site for the project at boulevardwoods.net.

We're ready and eager to take the next steps with this project. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you so much for your consideration. Please let us know if you have any questions or other concerns.

Sincerely,

Dan Lorentz, Chairperson
Boulevard Neighborhood Association
325 Lyndon Ave.
Athens, GA 30601

cc: Pam Reidy, Director, Leisure Services Department
      Kelly Girtz, Commissioner
      George Maxwell, Commissioner
      Mike Hamby, Commissioner
      Jared Bailey, Commissioner

Attachments

Download Bw key points

Download Bw concept drawing 3-4-12