The Mayor and Commission are scheduled to vote on a plan that would allow us to move forward with creating Boulevard Woods at its regular session meeting this coming Tuesday, July 3, beginning at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
We'll definitely need folks to come out, speak up and show support at this meeting.
Here, for your convenience, are talking points in favor of Boulevard Woods. Stay tuned for more alerts and reminders.
Our proposal in brief. "Boulevard Woods" is a proposal by the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. (BNA) to partner with ACC Leisure Services to establish and maintain public green space or park on long vacant, county-owned land off of Barber Street where Boulevard ends.
Low-cost, passive public green space. We are proposing a low-cost, easy-to-maintain public green space that is a convenient place for neighbors to walk or bike to in order to relax, bring kids to play or take a stroll along a nature trail.
Funding source is BNA. BNA intends to raise funds, and under the supervision of Leisure Services, coordinate the use of contracted work, volunteer labor and donated materials to build "Boulevard Woods" and to provide for its ongoing maintenance.
No money = no park. If we fail to raise the needed funds and resources, the park will not be built.
Design is based on neighborhood feedback. A concept design for the park was based on two surveys of residents and a public charrette. Using feedback from the surveys and the charrette, a volunteer design team–whose membership included UGA landscape architecture professors, a locally practicing architect and a professional landscape designer–developed the concept drawing.
This project is driven by lots of neighborhood volunteers. There are eight volunteers on our design team. There are nine volunteers on BNA's Park Committee There have been eight organized volunteer work days on the site. More than 82 people have together volunteered at least 2,200 hours of time for this project.
Need for a neighborhood park. In its Prince Ave corridor study, ACC's Planning Department notes the lack of pocket parks or greenspace near the corridor. The study mentions our site as an example of a "greenspace connection" that would enhance the corridor. There are no parks within convenient walking distance in our neighborhood. The school playground at Chase St. School is only open during non-school hours and does not allow dogs.
Making a stronger, safer neighborhood. Studies show that properly placed, properly designed neighborhood parks that are well-cared for and popular help build community ties that produce stronger, safer neighborhoods. Boulevard Woods will be a very well loved park. (See City Parks Forum Briefing Papers, How cities use parks to create safer neighborhoods, published by the American Planning Association and The Benefits of Parks: Why American Needs More City Parks and Open Space, by Paul M. Sherer, published by The Trust for Public Land, 2006.)
Backed by enduring organizations. "Boulevard Woods" is a project of the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc., which has been actively advocating to protect and improve Boulevard since the 1980s. BNA has entered into an agreement with Athens Land Trust that establishes a fundraising partnership for "Boulevard Woods."
We've done a lot of outreach. We've surveyed neighborhood residents twice. In the first survey, out of 193 respondents, 91.2 percent said they would like to have a public park or public green space in the neighborhood. In the second, residents told us what they liked and didn't like about the proposed site and what they'd like to see there. In July 2010, 35 residents participated in a public neighborhood meeting about design preferences and issues at the ATHICA gallery space. Residents provided feedback on design concepts to the project's design team. Every house in the neighborhood, including the streets surrounding the site, was invited via a flyer. We've met with neighbors many times. We've maintained a publicly accessible web site about the project since January 2010.
We're ready to get to work now. BNA has voted to amend its bylaws to create a permanent "neighborhood park" steering committee. BNA and Athens Land Trust have already signed an agreement that will allow BNA to use ALT's non-profit status and professional staff to help administer a fundraising campaign. There's already a framework and precedent for doing what we're proposing: ACC signed an agreement with the Athens Chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association to construct and maintain trails on county-owned property in East Athens. We're asking for a similar kind of agreement. Let us get to work now.