Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The BeltLine is Happening: Historic Fourth Ward Park Breaks Ground

PRNewswire/ -- Thirty-five acres of blighted industrial lowland near City Hall East will move closer to transformation into Historic Fourth Ward Park after a groundbreaking ceremony at 10:30 a.m., Wed., Oct. 15: approximately 695 North Avenue, 30308. Construction of a detention pond, part of the Clear Creek Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Capacity Relief Project, will pave the way for the development of the first park in the "emerald necklace" that will ultimately be Atlanta's BeltLine. Land for the park was first secured by the Trust for Public Land in 2004.

"This park will provide vital greenspace and improve the quality of life for our neighbors in the Historic Fourth Ward," Mayor Shirley Franklin said.

Initially, the City intended to address CSO overflow problems in the Old Fourth Ward area of the Clear Creek Basin by extending the West area CSO tunnel. Instead, the City is reclaiming a former wetland and creating a centerpiece for the future park at a cost lower than the cost of the tunnel extension. The park will connect several historic neighborhoods and downtown, which have long been separated by racial, economic and physical barriers.

"This is one of those rare public projects that has captured the imagination of everyone involved," said Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall. "The year-long design process brought residents, stormwater engineers, and landscape architects together as equals around a common table. Because the process respected the core values of the Old Fourth Ward -- diversity, innovation, and a commitment to social justice -- one of the city's most historic neighborhoods is now home to its most forward-thinking park."

Other organizations that are making the Historic Fourth Ward Park possible are:

The BeltLine, which will combine greenspace, trails, transit and new development along 22 miles of historic rail segments that encircle Atlanta, is a solution to the challenges that threaten to limit Atlanta's health and prosperity: traffic; lack of greenspace and recreation opportunities; and uneven economic development.

-- "Historic Fourth Ward Park is a shining example of how the BeltLine can facilitate more holistic consideration of our greatest urban infrastructure challenges," said Atlanta BeltLine Inc. President and CEO Terri Montague. "Beginning with passionate members of the community and continuing through the collaboration with government entities and leveraging of diverse public and private funding, we are delivering urban redevelopment."

The Department of Watershed Management is using the Clear Creek CSO Capacity Relief Project to create an amenity that will be enjoyed by residents in the area. The project will help reduce overflows in the low-lying area near City Hall East and provide additional combined sewer capacity for the community.

-- "This project not only helps eliminate a serious problem, it also provides an attractive and functional amenity," DWM Commissioner Rob Hunter said.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs

Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 45 states.

The Park Area Coalition is a group of developers, property owners and neighborhood leaders committed to the development of Historic Fourth Ward Park as the centerpiece of a larger, higher density, sustainable urban neighborhood.

-- "The Beltline is the most potentially city-changing project that has ever been undertaken in Atlanta," said Bob Bridges of The Simpson Organization and founding PAC member. "Because of development patterns for intown Atlanta, H4WP is likely to be the most heavily used park on the BeltLine."

The Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy was formed in 2008 as the non-profit support arm for the Historic Fourth Ward Park.

-- "Our initial efforts focus on planning to enhance the City's maintenance and security of the park through direct contributions," said John Perlman of Adams & Co. Real Estate Company, Acting Chair of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy. "We hope to raise funds for adding amenities through memberships and other fundraising programs."

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