In the shadow of Atlanta's City Hall East, a lot of new construction is under way. What is now a construction site will soon become Fourth Ward Park, one of several new parks being built along the Atlanta BeltLine. Phase one of this park will open later this year; it will include an amphitheater, picnic shelters, a walking path and an overlook pond that will act as a storm water basin, able to handle 500 year flood waters.
The Atlanta BeltLine Forth Ward Park Renderings Rendering of the Atlanta BeltLine's Newest Park in the Historic Fourth Ward Park Beltline Historic Forth Ward Forth Ward Atlanta City Hall East BeltLine Trail
"We have right now here in the middle of 2010, basically four parks under construction. Our goal is to add to that over the next few years," said Brian Leary, BeltLine CEO.
Leary told Channel 2 Action News that phase two of the Fourth Ward park will be completed in the spring of 2011, less than one year from now. It will offer Atlantans a multi-use field, splash pad and skate park. The park will also be a part of miles of hiking and biking paths connecting parks, schools and neighborhoods along the BeltLine.
The Atlanta BeltLine Historic 4th Ward Park Master Plan Picture Park Historic Trail
"You can bring greenspace and a place for the people in a very unique design concept. That is what we should expect from the Atlanta BeltLine," said Leary.
With two parks and three-and-a-half miles of trails completed, the Atlanta BeltLine is continuing to expand. In a city with some of the longest commutes in the country, the BeltLine aims to change the way Atlantans move around.
"The trails are gonna really change the way you think about the city. You're gonna be able to ride in from Stone Mountain on the Freedom Park Trail, go around the Beltway and head out on the Silver Comet Trail and ride all the way to Alabama!" said Ryan Gravel, the creator of the Atlanta BeltLine. He designed the project for his master's thesis at Georgia Tech.
"I wanted to live in a place where I can walk to transit, where I can walk to the store, to restaurants; where my kids can walk to school, to the park, that's the kind of place I want to live," said Gravel.
Compared to other major cities, Atlanta lacks greenspace. It's a necessary investment in order to keep Atlanta competitive in the 21st century. "The Atlanta BeltLine complete makes Atlanta much more competitive place for residents and jobs. People will move to Atlanta just to be in proximity to this amazing quality of life infrastructure," said Leary.
The Atlanta BeltLine Reservoir Park Renderings Reservoir Park Rendering Atlanta Georgia BeltLine Trail Belt Line
Mayor Kasim Reed said this investment is vital, "that's why in a very tough budget year, we made the decision to invest $1 million in greenspace maintenance for the Atlanta BeltLine."
That money, in addition to millions in federal dollars and private donations from organizations like the Path Foundation, will go to fund the development of Atlanta's greenspace.
"By creating an atmosphere of greenspace for people to be active and healthy, their quality of life will improve. It makes Atlanta immediately competitive, much more competitive overnight," said Leary.