Each month, City Parks Alliance recognizes a “Frontline Park” to promote and highlight inspiring examples of urban park excellence, innovation, and stewardship across the country. The program also seeks to highlight examples of the challenges facing our cities’ parks as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures, and urban neighborhood decay.
Though not as large or well known as nearby Piedmont Park, Historic Fourth Ward Park has quickly become a symbol of Atlanta’s changing downtown, and is currently the most visible component of the Atlanta BeltLine. Formerly a flood-prone brownfield dotted with abandoned warehouses and parking lots, this 17.5-acre park serves a stormwater retention facility, event space, and community greenspace for the surrounding neighborhoods.
The park, which opened in 2011, is the result of years of hard work between a variety of partners, including citizen activists, public officials, property owners and business leaders, The Trust for Public Land, the Atlanta BeltLine, and city departments. Rather than develop the area with a stormwater management building, stormwater activists convened in 2003 and developed a concept plan that featured a 35-acre park with a sustainable stormwater detention facility as a central feature. The following year, the Trust for Public Land began to secure land parcels that would be crucial to the development of a new park. Old Fourth Ward neighborhood residents and business owners formed the Park Area Coalition, which has since evolved into the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy. Ground was broken in 2008 for the park with funding support from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Capital Campaign, the Department of Watershed Management, Park Improvement Bonds and the Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District, and more land was donated by Wells Fargo, Georgia Power and BB&T. The stormwater retention lake, the park’s most visible and recognizable feature, was built through a partnership between Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the Department of Watershed Management, saving the City more than $15 million from the original plans to build a traditional storm water facility.
The second phase of the park opened in 2012, adding a world-class skate park, an athletic field, and another playground to the list of park amenities. Even though the park’s primary function is to alleviate flooding issues, the space that was created has jump-started private development in the area and provided a wonderful park to a community.
For more information on Historic Fourth Ward Park, please visit: