Recommendation: Move Forward with Boulevard Woods

As expected, Athens-Clarke County's manager and director of Leisure Services are recommending that the Mayor and Commission give us a green light to move forward with the project. 

Specifically, staff is officially requesting that the Mayor and Commission:

 1. Designate the largest of the three parcels that comprise the Boulevard Woods site for use as a "passive park area. (According to the staff review, ACC's final ownership of the other two parcels hasn't been officially established yet but that if and when they are, they could be included again in the Boulevard Woods site.) 

2. Approve our neighborhood-developed concept plan for Boulevard Woods (minus the two smaller parcels) 

3. Give staff the authority to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between ACC and Boulevard Neighborhood Association to build and provide on-going maintenance for Boulevard Woods. 

 4. Give the Mayor and staff the power to implement the MOU once approved by the county's manager and attorney. 

The staff request for Boulevard Woods is very close to the proposal we made. If approved, we'll finally be able to start fund-raising with confidence that Boulevard Woods will be built–if we raise the needed money (and material and labor donations). 

Here's what happens next: On Thursday, June 21, at its agenda-setting meeting, the Mayor and Commission will be voting on whether to include the Boulevard Woods proposal on the agenda for the July regular session vote. If they vote to include it, the vote to approve Boulevard Woods will happen at M & C's regular session on July 3.   

The fact that staff is recommending approval is a big step forward, but we definitely need to keep showing strong support from the neighborhoods for this.  

Please stay tuned for action alerts this week. 

After that, we'll work with staff to develop the Memorandum of Understanding and launch a fundraising campaign. 

If you're interested in reading the official agenda item report on Boulevard Woods, you can find it here: http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/10029

 

Mayor Requests Expeditious Proposal Review

At the very beginning of Tuesday's Regular Session of the Mayor and Commission, Mayor Nancy Denson requested that Athens-Clarke County Manager Alan Reddish to direct appropriate ACC staff to review our proposal for Boulevard Woods. And she asked that the review be done expeditiously. At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Jared Bailey noted that we've done a lot of work preparing our proposal and the site already and echoed the Mayor's request for quick action.

Thanks Mayor Denson and Commissioner Bailey!

We'll be contacting staff soon to get a sense of a timeline and to offer our help in answering questions and explaining our proposal.

BNA Amends Bylaws to Create Park Position

At its annual business meeting yesterday, Boulevard Neighborhood Association (BNA) voted by acclamation to amend its bylaws to create a "neighborhood park/public green space standing committee."

The new committee, with an elected standing committee chairperson, is charged with coordinating with county departments and other organizations to manage and maintain Boulevard Woods and to fulfill any park-related obligations BNA may accept under agreements with Athens-Clarke County and Athens Land Trust (ALT), which has agreed to help BNA administer fundraising.

Earlier BNA created a temporary committee to help lead the push to gain ACC approval. That committee will remain in place until the plan for Boulevard Woods is approved, and when that happens (knock on wood) the new standing committee will take over.

In related news, discussions with Athens Land Trust about a memorandum of understanding outlining how they would help BNA administer fundraising are nearly complete. Which means we'll be technically ready to start fundraising, though we'll likely wait until ACC gives the green light for the project in February (we hope!).

BNA Moves to “Adopt” Boulevard Woods

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"Get a neighborhood group or non-profit organization that's been around a while and has a solid reputation to stand behind your park."

That's the advice we've been getting from Athens-Clarke Co. commissioners and county staff. They say that ACC is more likely to give a green light to a volunteer-driven neighborhood park project like Boulevard Woods if there's an organization with longevity and credibility backing it up.

Recently, we've taken some big steps to follow that advice.

The steering committee for Boulevard Neighborhood Association, a formally organized neighborhood group with bylaws and officers that has been working to protect and improve the neighborhood since the early 1980s, voted last week to begin what one might call the "adoption process" of Boulevard Woods. First, the steering committee created a temporary BNA committee to help guide the Boulevard Woods project through the next few months as it heads to the Mayor and Commission for consideration. 

BNA also gave its chairperson–that's me, Dan Lorentz–the go-ahead to draft agreements with Athens Land Trust, a locally well-known and respected non-profit, to handle fundraising for the project and, when the time comes, with ACC to organize the construction and maintenance of the park. The draft agreements are subject to approval by BNA's steering committee.

Finally, BNA members will vote on Dec. 4 at their annual membership meeting on a amendment to BNA's bylaws that would create a permanent "neighborhood park/public green space standing committee" if and when ACC approves Boulevard Woods. If the amendment passes (and if ACC approves the park), the chair of the park committee would be a regular member of BNA's steering committee.

In one sense, BNA adopted the three parcels that comprise "Boulevard Woods" a couple of years ago under the "Adopt Athens" anti-litter program. But these recent votes mean that BNA is adopting the park project as its own.

For most users of the future park, all this behind-the-scenes bureaucratic stuff isn't that interesting. What is important about what BNA is doing is this: it's sending a signal to ACC that the Boulevard neighborhood is serious about wanting to create Boulevard Woods and about its longterm commitment to it.

Read more about the next steps for the project here.

Boulevards Woods is a Rivers Alive Project

Riversalive

This year Boulevard Woods is a participating site in the Rivers Alive volunteer effort.

Rivers Alive is an annual volunteer day organized by Hands On Northeast Georgia. This year's event takes place Saturday, Oct. 15.

As always, the focus of the event is keeping the waterways in Athens clean. Even though Boulevard Woods doesn't contain a waterway, the site is immediately adjacent to a streambed–and so they've invited us to participate.

Which is great because we've got a bunch of work that needs doing, including spreading mulch on trails. We'll also be hauling debris and picking up trash.

Here's the schedule for Saturday, Oct. 15:

8-9am – Rivers Alive Volunteer check-in at Dudley Park (coffee and juice will be provided)

9am-12noon – Clean-up project at Boulevard Woods

12noon-1pm – Back at Dudley Park for prizes, lunch, band performance, kids area and games.

For more information and to register as a volunteer for the Boulevard Woods Rivers Alive project, go here.

We’ve Got ACC Liaisons

About a week ago we got word that ACC manager Alan Reddish asked Pam Reidy, director of Leisure Services, to serve as a liaison with the Boulevard Woods project team. In turn, she's assigned two Leisure Service staff people–park services division administrator Dan Magee and Greenways supervisor Mel Cochran–to help us develop and bring forward a project concept for eventual consideration by the Mayor and Commission.

A few of us will be meeting with Reidy, Magee and Cochran at the site next week to start figuring out what we need to do next.

This is a big step forward for the project. We now have people on the "inside" who've been given official permission to help us with the park project.  This doesn't mean that ACC has approved a park at the site yet, but it does mean that they know we're serious about moving forward.

We owe thanks to District 5 Commissioner Jared Bailey, and Super District Commissioners Kelly Girtz and Mike Hamby for their efforts in making this happen. We also owe thanks to Roger Cauthen at ACC's landscape management division for his continuing helpfulness and accessibility.

Park Design Charrette Generates Lots of Feedback

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Kevan Williams, a member of the Barber St. Park Project Design Team, gives neighborhood residents a quick orientation to four alternative park concepts at the start of a neighborhood feedback meeting held at the ATHICA gallery space. 

About 35 people participated in our neighborhood charrette last Monday at the ATHICA gallery space in the Tracy St. warehouses.

A charrette (pronounced shuh-ret) is a meeting or conference devoted to a concerted effort to solve a design problem or plan something. And that’s exactly what neighborhood residents did: they helped our design team to figure out the best plan for a potential park at the East end of Boulevard at Barber St.

Neighborhood residents listened to design team members explain their concepts, and then we gathered lots of feedback on the four alternative concepts that were presented.

Take a look at the concepts and other context materials here. It’s not too late to comment.

In the next step, the design team will digest the feedback on the concepts and develop a single proposal. Once that’s done, we’ll take it to the Athens-Clarke County Commission and seek approval to build our park at this site. At this stage, we may have to modify our plans, but we’re flexible. Of course, there will be lots of work to do after that, too. But we’ll take this one step at a time.

Stay tuned for more updates.

 

onlookers1

One participant at the charrette writes a comment while others look on. 

***

onlookers2

Taking in the four park concepts.

Neighborhood Charrette* Scheduled

BLVDWOODS
Legend box from draft concept #1. Image by Kevan Williams.

The Barber St. Park Project is moving forward, and we need your input.

Our design team has developed four alternative design concepts for a possible park or public green space at the Barber St. site. We need you to take a look at these concepts and let us know what you think about them.

You can inspect and comment on the designs at a neighborhood charrette — or design input session — on Monday, July 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the ATHICA gallery space, 160 Tracy St. Unit 4. (Find ATHICA here.)

Input at this event will be crucial in developing the final proposal we'll present to the county.

Please come, exchange views with your neighbors and tell our design team what you think. There will be refreshments, too.

___ ___ ___

* What's a charrette? Here's what Wikipedia says.

Tree Inventory & Assessment Report is Complete

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Two UGA urban tree management students have prepared a well-illustrated 21 page report about the trees on the top west end of the Barber St. site–the part of the site most likely to be used as a park or public green space.

The report–entitled Barber Street Park Project: Tree Inventory & Assessment--identifies 52 individual trees and recommends care for them. Aluminum tags will be affixed to the 21 of these trees (those with diameters of 15-inches or greater) with numbers that correspond to a tree inventory map that's included in the report. (As of this writing, some of the trees on the north side of the site have been tagged.)

In addition to an entry on each of the 52 trees, the report also includes general tree maintenance guidelines with tailored recommendations for professional-level care and for volunteer-level care, and much else.

Lindsey Hutchison and Allison Dublinksi wrote the report. Download Barber St Park Tree Inventory_051110.pdf (2350.0K)

The Barber St. Park Project owes them a big thank you: THANK YOU!

Here are a couple images of pages from the report:

 
trees 12&13

site inventory