By Mariann Martin, contributor
Atlanta city officials unveiled two major park projects Friday, with plans to expand Atlanta’s public greenspace by hundreds of acres.
After it is completed, the planned Westside Park will be the city’s largest park with about 280 acres, while a land purchase at the north end of Piedmont Park will add about 5 acres to the city’s premier existing park. Mayor Kasim Reed, whose last day as mayor will be Tuesday, made the announcements in two back-to-back press conferences at Atlanta City Hall Friday afternoon.
The announcement of Westside Park and Bellwood Quarry has been years in the making, with the city buying the quarry in 2006. Reed said the city will begin Phase I of the construction in the first part of 2018. The first phase, which will cost about $26.5 million and will take about 24 months to complete. The funding has already been approved by city council.
The park will see two additional phases to add more developments and will be open at the end of the first phase.
It will have extensive trails and a view of the city. It will have a northern gateway into the park at Johnson Road and Grove Parkway. Reed said one of the challenges was finding a way not to fence in the quarry. The quarry will have a protective barrier, but the waterway will be “beautiful, open and attractive,” Reed said.
The park will also connect to the BeltLine’s Westside Trail and the Proctor Creek Trail.
“I believe the grand overlook of Westside Park and Bellwood Quarry will offer some of the most spectacular views of the capital city of the state of Georgia,” Reed said. “With this project the city of Atlanta is transforming historic properties on the Westside and bringing something incredible that all of you deserve. We are taking another step to world class in Atlanta.”
The city of Atlanta is connecting the Bellwood Quarry to the Hemphill Water Treatment plant and the Chattahoochee River in order to fill the quarry with a 30-day supply of water for the city. The drilling – done by a machine named Driller Mike – began over a year ago. It reached the halfway mark of the 5-mile tunnel in October.
During a second press conference, the announcement to expand Piedmont Park came as a surprise. The 185-acre park is currently the largest park in the city in the heart of Atlanta. The expansion will include about five acres at the north end of the park at the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.
Reed said the negotiations to buy the park were completed late Thursday evening, showing the two signed contracts. The expansion will be the largest in the park’s history.
The project is expected to cost about $100 million, with the city putting in $20 million. The other $80 million will come private and public donors.