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Parks And Wrecks

Brownwood Park could use a little love from more of the community

When you're young you feel like you can change the world. You listen to punk rock, okay — Don Henley — and National Public Radio and vow to always be proactive. Then you have kids, a job and laundry, you become your own charity case. A clean-room activist.

Sadly, I don't really have the time or energy to change anything but diapers. However after changing up our hangout spots, I hear that ol' familiar call to action.

Strolling through different parks in our area brought to my attention that the needles strewn about are not commonplace. The dead grass and falling gates are not to be expected at everyone’s neighborhood park.

Now I am on a mission to discover why other parks get so much more love. By love, I mean more money than the park in East Atlanta Village.

Now, I am overwhelmed by all the effort and time and money it takes to have green grass and stone sidewalks for a park.

A call to the parks department taught me to call somewhere else if you want to beautify the park. If you have maintenance issues, like broken sidewalks, you contact customer service at the Office of Parks: 404.546.6813. They will put in a work order and one day, perhaps it will get done.

There are 348 parks in the city of Atlanta. The Office of Parks currently maintains 226 of these parks, so it could take them a while to unclog the water fountain.

In 1989 some folks got tired of waiting for the Parks Department to show up so they started Park Pride. They are a grassroots effort, coordinating more than 60 "Friends of the Park" to make the work volunteers do matter.

They offer a few different kinds of grants and help to get people involved. They and getting other people to do something.

From what I can tell, Brownwood Park is trying to get some friends. Beautifying this park is going to take a lot of time and effort from the community. It has its share of pot-smoking teenagers and dozing homeless, but it's worth the effort.

Talking about getting involved and Googling what can be done are not substitutes for action. Maybe this time, with the follow-through I am learning as a parent, I will actually get involved.

Revolution!

Chris Murphy November 09, 2011 at 11:45 AM
While I'm sure that more cash could help solve some of Brownwood's ills, no amount of money will change the behavior of some of those that haunt the park (yes, I said haunt, not use, the park). If civilized folks used the park more often, if they demanded that rules be enforced, if they reported the behaviors that make their use of the park untenable, and kept pushing until better behavior was taken for granted, then something would happen.
Péralte Paul (Editor) November 10, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Chris, I agree. I use the park and I know Jessica and others use the park a lot, too. Part of the problem is response time can be slow. I called 911 once last year when I saw a group of kids set fire to a pile of rubbish on the basketball court. It took 20 minutes for the fire station 4 blocks away to come. I know because that's how long I walked my dog that night. Like others, I would walk through clouds of marijuana as people puffed away on the swings. By the time the police would come, they were long gone.
Jill Sieder November 10, 2011 at 06:55 AM
While I share the concerns stated here about undesirable behavior from Brownwood Park visitors, I am more aware of the many responsible park users and local activists doing great things to make the park a safe and active place. To wit, last September 130 community volunteers spent 3 days planting, mulching, building benches, renovating bulletin boards, expanding the community garden, installing erosion control materials in both ends of the park (see this article and some nice photos here - http://theporchpress.com/?p=1073 ). At the EACA meeting last night we heard about new efforts to restore a walking trail on the south end. Both of these projects are supported by Park Pride & volunteers from EACA's Parks & Beautification Committee. So know there is already a local grassroots effort you can join. As director of the East Atlanta Kids Club, which is based at Brownwood Park Recreation Center, I am always vigilant about potential criminal activity in the park, where our kids play 3 or 4 days a week. I am dismayed when I find little baggies and used condoms about. But these are not our predominant experiences of the park. What prevails is a lush canopy of beautiful, mature oak trees, grassy areas where games of kickball are played, teens pursuing hoop dreams and talking smack on the basketball court, small children frolicking on the playground, a circle of benches that form a relaxing outdoor study and reflection space, bird song, fresh air. Eye of the beholder, I suppose.
Chris Murphy November 10, 2011 at 11:23 AM
I think your eye would behold different things if you weren't an official at the park, and/or were there at different hours. I gave up bringing my kids there: any time we were there to use the playground, it was taken over by older teenagers and adults. When I'm Dad, I can't play Enforcer, so we'd just leave. I suppose I should have made the connection between the playground being orderly and the Kid's Club being open, as those were the few times our kids had access to the equipment. Thanks for doing your part. Please ask the Friends of the park to publicize any clean-ups or projects to the SAND neighborhoods, and we'll see if we can take part- my daughters are just getting good this season with rakes ; >. I'd like to be able to just send them off to the park, as we're only 4 blocks away, our dog would like a walk in the woods, too. It is a great setting, and it is fairly large, especially for our neck of the woods.
Jill Sieder November 10, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Hey, Chris, I'm not really an official at the park; I lead a nonprofit for children that is based in the rec center, which affords me the opportunity to step out of the building and enjoy the park several times a day. I also live nearby and walk my dogs in the park several nights a week. I too wish the city would do more to maintain and patrol the park. I was primarily responding to Jessica's lament that not enough community people and groups are involved in the upkeep of the park, as I'm aware of a great deal of effort by local citizens and corporate groups to improve and beautify Brownwood. I'm sure that Mary, Laird and other Friends of Brownwood Park folks would love to have you and your daughter join in on their cleanup days and other activities (including plantings and parties in the community garden). You can reach them at parks@eaca.net.
Mary Yetter November 10, 2011 at 04:04 PM
I have worked on the Friends committee (past 4 years) and now co-chair the parks and green space committee and during this time we have advertised in newsletters at community meetings for assistance on work days many times and have had little to no help particularly from the many new young families with children. While it is regrettable that some simply cannot behave and as we live in a large urban city with a multitude of attitudes and behaviors some pleasant and some not so pleasant rather then complain use your energy to participate and make things better. As parks co-chair and friends participant we will make more efforts to advertise work days however we encourage you to contact parks@eaca.net to put your name in. In the mean time I would like to point out that there has been an amazing amount of work done by a very small group of people in the park over the past year (s)(new trail, new bridge, community garden expansion, trees planted, weeding, mulching of trees, erosion control, a-dopt a stream program, and much more. For further information or better yet support please contact parks@eaca.net. Regards, Mary Yetter Co-Chair Parks and Green Space EACA

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