Park advocates pushing Atlanta to invest in neighborhood park maintenance

Advocates would like to see community parks receive similar attention to bigger, showcase parks like Piedmont and Chastain Park.
Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 7:03 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Park advocates are calling on the Atlanta City Council to invest more money into park maintenance, specifically for smaller, neighborhood parks.

“I think there is some inequity just in terms of how the parks are taken care of,” said Denzel Peoples, who lives in southwest Atlanta near Perkerson Park.

Peoples would like to see community parks receive similar attention to bigger, showcase parks like Piedmont and Chastain Park.

Those parks are managed in part by a conservancy and private donors.

A spokesperson for the Piedmont Park Conservancy told Atlanta News First they invested $3.5 million in park maintenance and programming in 2022.

“I think in some respects we’re living in a tale of two cities,” said Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride.

“The biggest thing we can do for all of the parks, and for those parks that don’t have conservancies, is to raise the bar so that everybody goes to a park that is safe, clean, and well maintained,” said Halicki.

Residents near neighborhood parks told Atlanta News First the biggest issues they see are mounting trash, delays in repairing park equipment and inconsistent mowing of the grass.

“I think our neighborhood deserves better, and I think our neighborhood is in a part of the city that is often neglected and forgotten,” said Christie Holben, who lives in southwest Atlanta.

When asked about the current staffing levels of the Parks and Recreation department, a spokesperson did not provide an answer. The spokesperson also did not react to the call for more funding.

Here’s the statement from the City provided to Atlanta News First:

“The Department of Parks and Recreation continues to increase its maintenance staff to ensure a safe and well-maintained experience for park visitors. The department has received more applicants for open positions in 2023 than in the past three years allowing DPR to fill open positions more easily. DPR invites those interested in joining its staff to apply at”

Halicki would like to see the Council invest at least $2 million more to add more maintenance workers to the parks department.

In Mayor Andre Dickens’ first year as mayor, the City added more than 260 acres of parkland.

Advocates have given public comment at council meetings in recent weeks calling for added maintenance for neighborhood parks.

“How can we get a permanent line item for park maintenance,” asked one community member during a recent meeting.

Atlanta ranked 27th out of 100 cities analyzed for their parks, according to Trust for Public Land.

In this report, Atlanta scored lower statistically around issues of equity and parks.

“Residents living in lower-income neighborhoods have access to 33% less nearby park space than those in higher-income neighborhoods (42 points out of 100),” according to the 2022 report.

The Atlanta City Council will begin hearings around the 2024 budget in May.