Mayor Pro Tem Simms and Commissioners:

My name is Dan Lorentz. I live at 325 Lyndon Avenue in Athens. I’m the neighborhood park standing committee chair for the Boulevard Neighborhood Association.

Most of you here tonight already know something about Boulevard Woods.

That’s not surprising: We’ve been working on creating this little park since 2009—actually even before that.   Wow, that’s a long time.

In 2012, the Mayor and Commission designated this parcel for use as a park, approved our concept plan and authorized staff to work with us to develop an agreement to build Boulevard Woods.

Since then, as we got deeper into the details, we’ve had to scale back our ambitions a little, acknowledge some limitations and ask for a bit more help from the county.

And, not least: we’ve had to raise money.

I’m happy to report that:

We now have ACC-approved construction drawings for a small, easy-to-maintain yet graceful and distinctive park. These include a workable plan to continue sharing a driveway with a neighboring property.

We now have Athens Land Trust’s offer to sign a lease agreement with ACC to supervise park construction, and we now have an agreement laying out BNA’s obligations for helping to maintain the park

We now have more than enough money in the bank to cover construction costs. We were lucky to get a $75,000 grant from the Riverview Foundation. But we’ve also raised more than $35,000 from people and businesses across Athens, not just in the Boulevard area.

Getting to this point has taken the work of lots of people.

I want to thank just a few right now who have been especially helpful in this last stretch.

Mayor Nancy Denson, who has supported this project from the beginning—including authorizing a donation for this project from the Mayor’s discretionary fund–has been helpful in prioritizing staff work on this.

Pam Reidy, director of Leisure Services, and her staff, including Daniel Lawson, Kevan Williams and Mel Cochran have been incredibly helpful and supportive.

The same is true of the Manager’s Office, the Planning Department, the Attorney’s Office, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, including staff at Central Services.

On the commission, we’ve been fortunate to have a number of champions. I’d like to thank Commissioners Kelly Girtz and Jared Bailey for their efforts and advice—and, of course, former Commissioner Kathy Hoard, and former Commissioner George Maxwell.

I’m happy to see that one of our reliable park project volunteers—Melissa Link—is now sitting on the commission.

And I’ve been lucky to have spoken with most of the rest of you at one time or another about this project.

Josh Koons and his partners at Koons Environmental Design have done a lot of diligent, creative and quick work in the last few weeks getting the final drawings ready.

Heather Benham and the Athens Land Trust deserve our thanks for a whole bunch of cooperation and collaboration.

And I want to thank Allen Stovall, Marci White and Krysia Haag for their enduring commitment to this project.

Now, with all this help we’ve gotten, with enough money in hand, plans approved and agreements ready to be signed, we’d really like to see the Mayor and Commission move this project forward.

Let’s get it built!

Thank you.