Published on March 19th, 2015 |6
Oops! Donor bricks for Loudermilk Park project will disappear
Although more than 200 of the bricks were sold before the campaign ended, they will not remain in the park, it was announced Wednesday afternoon by Buckhead Community Improvement
District Executive Director Jim Durrett.
BuckheadView posted a story on March 12 (New Loudermilk Park sports bricks bought for project in 2009) with photos of the bricks gracing the arch areas at the base of the new park clock tower.
We had it on good authority that the bricks would be used in the park design, so we headed up to the park, found them in place on the clock tower, and photographed them. But the patience donors showed for six years paid off with only a short moment of pride.
Back in 2009, the Buckhead Alliance—an organization that doesn’t exist anymore—devised a plan to redo Charlie Loudermilk Park and steal a page from the successful marketing of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park by selling bricks to raise funds for the work.
Since then, nothing has been heard about the bricks, the Buckhead Alliance or the original park plan. In fact, the new design and renovation of the park was taken over by the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID).
With the Charlie Loudermilk Park grand re-opening ceremony coming up March 31, BuckheadView reached out in early March to find out if the bricks were actually going to become part of the new park design.
BCID’s Durrett told BuckheadView, “Yes, of course,” but did not elaborate on where or how they would be used in the new park design. An email to BCID board member Robin Loudermilk, who was the head of the Buckhead Alliance for most of the time of its existence, went unanswered.
Finally, Sally Silver, who works in the office of Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook and is actively involved in planning the March 31 ceremony, told
BuckheadView the bricks would be used in the base of the new clock tower that was recently erected in the park.
And, lo and behold, there they were on March 12. But according to a statement by Durrett on March 18, they won’t be there for long.
Silver said she found out the donor blocks were going to be removed from the park during a meeting March 17 with Durrett at the park to discuss plans for the grand re-opening ceremony.
“In 2009 the Buckhead Alliance launched a campaign to raise funds to help make repairs to the original Charlie Loudermilk Park,” Durrett wrote in an email to BuckheadView. “People were given the opportunity to ‘buy a brick’ that would be engraved that would be used to replace bricks that were deteriorating. A little more than 200 bricks were purchased,” he added.
“In 2013 the Buckhead CID decided to redesign the park to create a more attractive and functional gathering place that would benefit the residents, workers, shoppers and visitors in this rapidly redeveloping part of Buckhead,” his statement continued. “The Buckhead Alliance had, by then, closed its doors, and Livable Buckhead, one of the Buckhead CID’s collaborative partners, received the assets and the obligations of the Buckhead Alliance, including the brick program for the old Charlie Loudermilk Park.
“There was no longer a need to replace bricks, and there was no place within the new park design for engraved bricks to really fit with the overall park design,” Durrett’s statement read.
“An effort was made to create engraved blocks that might fit within the archways at the base of the newly constructed clock tower,” Durrett explained. “Upon seeing how that looks, we have decided that it just doesn’t work; it degrades the aesthetic of the tower and there were numerous misspellings and even advertisements of businesses, which we believe is inappropriate, especially within a city park.”
Durrett concluded his email stating, “We were clearly attempting to fit a 2009 square peg into a 2015 round hole. The blocks will be covered and funds will be returned to the donors.”
Since Durrett said that Livable Buckhead had assumed the assets and obligations of the Buckhead Alliance, including the brick program,
BuckheadView emailed LBI Executive Director Denise Starling to find out when she had found out the bricks were not going in the park and her reaction to Durrett’s email about the decision.
“I am not in charge of the bricks program…we simply have the funds for the program from our assumption of the Buckhead Alliance,” Starling emailed BuckheadView.
“The bricks were from the get-go going to the CID for inclusion in CLP (the park),” Starling explained. “LBI was simply passing through the funds to the CID to use in CLP — not administering the program. As Jim said, they had problems with the production and aesthetics and he made the decision to refund the money to the contributors.”
BuckheadView asked Starling if thought had been given to placing the bricks somewhere on the PATH400 trail, another LBI project. “We did discuss putting them in PATH400, but he (Durrett) advised against it for a variety of reasons,” she answered.
Likely the largest single contributor to the brick program was the Buckhead Coalition, of which Charlie Loudermilk was a co-founder more than 25 years ago. The Coalition, which is made
up of 100 Buckhead business executives, had bought a brick in the name of each of its members, according to Coalition President and co-founder Sam Massell.
“We also did the same thing for the new E. Rivers Elementary School facility (in Buckhead) and for Centennial Olympic Park” in downtown Atlanta, Massell explained.
Asked how he felt about the decision to remove the bricks from Loudermilk Park, Massell answered diplomatically, “They decided not to use them and have decided to refund the money to those who bought the bricks.”
Massell maintained his diplomatic posture when it was pointed out that some areas of the new Charlie Loudermilk Park design incorporate the same type of red bricks that were used at Centennial Olympic Park to name those who donated to the park’s fund. He responded, “Yes.”
At least we have the March 12 photos of the bricks. It provides a small bit of pride for the contributions to Buckhead, the park and Charlie Loudermilk, who has given so much to the Buckhead community.