We’ve reached our goal!

$97,527 — what it will cost to build Boulevard Woods

$102,463.05 — what we’ve raised in total (less expenses)

$ 0— what we needed to raise by Friday, October 31, 2014 (our fundraising deadline)

$18,998.44— what we’ve raised since Wednesday, October 1, 2014*

4  — number of days ahead of schedule that we reached our goal

We’ve now achieved our fundraising goal. Actually, we’ve exceeded it a little. (It’s hard to suppress using capital letters, boldface and  lots of exclamation marks, so we won’t: YES!!!!!!!)

We won’t do a final reckoning of what we’ve raised until after October 31, which was our deadline for this last fundraising push. Some contributions may still be en route. But not to worry. Everyone who contributes before the end of the year will be listed as a contributor on this web site and on park signage, and all contributions will be used for the park.

Whatever we don’t or can’t spend to construct the basic park, will be reserved in a earmarked fund for Boulevard Woods at the Athens Land Trust, Inc. for use in the future for improvements such as a community-created mosaic or a terraced woodland gathering space.

Thanks to everyone who contributed. You did it, and you did it ahead of schedule!

Wow.

Just wow, everybody!!!

* — As some contributions are still coming in, we’ll update this number again soon.

 

4 Important Project Updates

It’s been a while since we’ve reported on our progress in making Boulevard Woods a reality. But a lot has been happening behind the scenes, including these four developments.

1.  Maintenance costs covered. 

Thanks to efforts from Commissioners Kelly Girtz and Kathy Hoard, there is now support from the commission for ACC to cover the ongoing maintenance costs of Boulevard Woods.

This means that Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. will not have to raise funds for ongoing maintenance of the park (which could have amounted to $4000 annually), and instead those expenses will be covered by the ACC General Fund.

2. $99,999 limit.

ACC has now suggested we limit the cost of Boulevard Woods to less than $100,000. Doing so will allow ACC to arrange to have the park built by a third party without triggering an expensive, time-consuming bidding process.

State law allows local governments to forgo a more elaborate bidding process for some public works projects that cost less than $100,000. If the project cost more, then the normal requirements would kick back in whether a third-party is involved or not.

This means we may have to make some changes to our original plans to reduce costs, but we’ll still be able to build able to build a safe, distinctive and graceful neighborhood park.

3. Athens Land Trust, Inc. offers more help. 

ALT is willing to sign an agreement with ACC to lease the park site for a dollar for construction purposes. When construction is complete, ALT will turn the park back to ACC to maintain as a public park.

Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. and its volunteers will have a role in helping ACC maintain the park, but having a professional, insured organization like ALT take on the responsibilities of overseeing the construction of the park is a big relief.

The construction of the park will be funded by money raised by the Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. and held in an earmarked account at ALT. Thank you, Athens Land Trust!

4. $14,063 left to raise.

To pay for as much of our original plan as possible and yet remain under the $99,999 limit imposed by state law, we’ll need to raise $14,063 as of this writing. Had we still been aiming for our original target of $125,000, we’d be about $35,000 short. We’re so close now! Watch for the announcement of our final fundraising push soon, but if you can’t wait, you can contribute now right here.

 

dogwoods

Boulevard Woods: Key Points

Boulevard Woods is a community partnership to create a distinctive neighborhood park on a vacant county-owned lot.

More than half the funds needed for construction have been raised. It will cost about $100,000 to build the park. Thanks to a $75,000 grant from Riverview Foundation, and ongoing local efforts, we’ve raised more than 85% of what we need. To get the job done, we need about $14,000.

Located in a great spot. The 1.8 acre lot sits at a prominent junction at the top of Boulevard where that street meets Barber St.—a street studded with connections to the local music scene. The site is inside the boundaries of the Historic Boulevard Neighborhood, and within walking distance for many area residents.

Lot is owned by Athens-Clarke County, and is designated for use as a park. The lot was donated to the City of Athens by W.H. Benson in 1967. In July 2012, ACC’s Mayor & Commission voted to allow this lot to be used as a park.

Neighborhood residents want a park. Apart from a school playground that’s off-limits during school hours and doesn’t allow dogs, there are no parks in the neighborhood. When area residents were surveyed in 2009, 93% of 193 respondents supported creating a park. ACC’s recent study of the Prince Avenue corridor mentions this site as a location for sorely needed public green space.

There’s a neighborhood/county partnership moving the project forward. The Boulevard Neighborhood Association, Inc. is leading the volunteer effort to create the park, and is working closely with ACC’s Leisure Services Department to design a park that meets public standards.

The park will be a public park. While the idea to create the park came from neighborhood volunteers, Boulevard Woods will be an ACC Leisure Services park when complete—a park open to everyone.

Plan is for a simple, graceful and easy-to-maintain park. Boulevard Woods will be a place for people to come to relax and play with their kids and friends in a garden-like and tree-filled setting. Beautiful stone walls will provide both architectural structure and seating for the park. Taking advantage of the topography of the site, an overlook will offer a view into dense tree canopy. A hiking trail will allow visitors (and their dogs) to stroll through a wooded area.

Incorporating community creativity. During a second phase of development, we plan to incorporate more expressions of community creativity into the park, including a mosaic, a metalwork archway sign, ornamental gardens and a community of birdhouses.

The park will be built and maintained at little cost to county taxpayers. In addition to designing the park at its own expense, BNA will be raising the funds required to construct the park. And, under an agreement with ACC, BNA will—with volunteer labor—help with ongoing maintenance.

Contributions are handled by Athens Land Trust, Inc. and are tax deductible. Under an agreement between BNA and Athens Land Trust, Inc. contributions to the park project are directed to an ALT fund that’s earmarked for Boulevard Woods. Contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law. ALT is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

This project is serving as a pilot project for other neighborhood parks. The effort to create this park is generating valuable lessons that may help ease the way for other neighborhood parks. ACC is now developing criteria to evaluate future proposals, and there’s now support for establishing a fund to help cover maintenance costs for neighborhood parks.

Timeline. Our goal is to present our ACC-approved plan to the Mayor & Commission for final approval in Fall 2014. If we’ve raised sufficient funds by then and the Mayor & Commission vote to accept our plans and funds, we expect construction of Boulevard Woods to begin in Spring 2015.

BNA/ALT Fundraising Agreement is Signed

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Athens Land Trust, a locally trusted 501(c) 3 non-profit with professional staff, will help Boulevard Neighborhood Association administer fundraising for the Boulevard Woods project.

The agreement, officially called a memorandum of understanding, between the two organizations has been signed and is ready to go into effect.

BNA, which is spearheading the Boulevard Woods effort, sought the agreement with ALT because BNA does not have official non-profit status and wanted to be able to offer potential donors to the project the ability to claim tax deductibility for contributions.

The agreement means that we could–if we wanted to–start fundraising for the project right now.

But we've decided to start the fundraising drive only after we've gotten the official green light from the Mayor and Commission to create Boulevard Woods.

We're hoping the Mayor and Commission will give us permission to create Boulevard Woods as long as we raise a certain amount of funds and donated materials by certain date. Doing it this way reduces the risk for Athens-Clarke County and for us. 

For ACC, making the permission contingent on sufficient fundraising, protects them from us starting the project but failing to raise enough to complete it. And, for our part, we won't have to be raising money for a project that may or may not be approved in the end: if we reach our goals, then we'll be able to build Boulevard Woods. This will give our fundraising campaign a sense of urgency, and our donors more confidence.

When will the Mayor and Commission give us a thumbs up or down? We don't know exactly yet, but should have a solid timeline later this month. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Nancy Stangle, Matt Bowers and Heather Denham and everyone at Athens Land Trust for their willingness to help us!

Donate

We’re not ready yet to accept contributions of money, but we’re working on it.

When the time comes to start raising money and accept donations of materials, we’ll be partnering with Athens Land Trust to give contributors the opportunity to claim tax deductions. Athens Land Trust is a local non-profit dedicated to land conservation, affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization, and they’ve agreed to help us administer our fundraising efforts.

Stay tuned for further details. But if you simply can’t wait, please contact Dan Lorentz, this web site’s editor, at lorentz.d@gmail.com.