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...Jay Sandhaus On Candler Park Neighborhood Organization's Visioning Plan

Candler Park committee looks at future for greenspace, golf course. But plans hit a snag with Park Pride organization pulling out.

A Candler Park steering committee charged with helping shape future of that neighborhood's namesake park could hire a firm to help it create a visioning plan for the 55.3-acre greenspace.

Such a plan could cost between $10,000 and $40,000, Amy Stout, a steering committee member, told residents Monday night at the monthly meeting of the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization.

The move follows Park Pride's decision to part ways with the committee, which sought that organization's help with the visioning plan for Candler Park, which is located at 1500 McLendon Ave. NE.

Founded in 1989, Park Pride, a non-profit group, is a greenspace advocacy group. It helps communities with volunteer clean-ups, maintenance and improvement projects and works with neighborhoods in developing their visioning plans.

"They didn't think the neighborhood was ready," Stout said.

Margaret Connelly, Park Pride's executive director, said the organization feels the neighborhood needs to drive the process, and that her group's role is strictly to be a facilitator, by providing tools and expertise to help develop a master plan.

Park Pride selected Candler Park last year as one of the parks for which it would help create a master plan.

But the 84-year-old Candler Park Golf Course and the controversy surrounding an earlier threat by city parks department officials to close it, just as Park Pride was starting its work with the neighborhood's park boosters, caused a riff.

George Dusenberry, the Atlanta Parks and Recreation Director, was Park Pride's former executive director.

Connelly said that stoked fears about how neutral her organization would be.

She also said some in the neighborhood were not completely clear about Park Pride's ultimate role in shaping the final plan.

"What became clear over the course of several meetings is that there were some unclear expectations," Connelly said. "We really want the community to drive the process."

The door remains open to future help if the neighborhood wants it, she said.

"I think if they spent some time really working on how they want to operate as a community in this process, they could come back to us," Connelly said. "We definitely think the park needs a master plan."

The nine-hole Candler Park Golf Course is in need of sprucing up and at one point, its patrons were concerned it would close.

The city is looking at options for increasing revenue from the golf course and parks officials have said closure is not on the table now.

Still, whatever visioning plan the neighborhood ultimately creates for one of the city's signature parks, would likely have as a key component the neighborhood's ideas for the golf course.

CPNO members voted to authorize the steering committee to continue to meet and eventually develop a survey that would take input from residents regarding their ideas what they'd like to see.

Candler Park isn't alone, of course, in looking to create some sort of master plan or vision for its park.

The Peoplestown community helped guide the renaissance of _, the Grant Park neighborhood, through the Grant Park Conservancy also has been vocal in shaping changes at that community's namesake greenspace.

Inman Park is in the middle of an $85,000 new playground project for its Springvale Park, which is part of a larger master plan for that greenspace.

Having a master plan is critical, CPNO President Jay Sandhaus said, because it allows the neighborhood to focus on the things that will help make it better for users, whether that's sidewalk improvements, or new path installations or refurbishing the pool house.

"A lot of things like that are going to be easier within the context of a visioning plan," Sandhaus told CPNO members.

East Atlanta Patch spoke with Sandhaus on the plan for Candler Park and its importance to the community.

Please click on the video to listen to our interview.

Lin Parent June 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
This sounds like a lost opportunity in the short-term, and this Candler Park resident doesn't feel we should come out of pocket anywhere from $10-40K unless all avenues with Park Pride are closed. I strongly urge the CPNO to start over, with new bargainers at the table.

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