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Published on March 23rd, 2016 |

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Buckhead park, residents featured at Park Pride conference & awards

The Chastain Park Conservancy has raised $11,000 in just three weeks through sales of personalized pavers. The proceeds will help fund the purchase of

Buckhead resident Esther Stokes is presented a 2016 Park Pride Inspiration Award by Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki.

Buckhead resident Esther Stokes is presented a 2016 Park Pride Inspiration Award by Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki.

equipment and experiences for the new Play Chastain 40,000-square-foot playground.

Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh made that announcement Tuesday as part of her “Play Themed Parks” session presentation during the daylong Park Pride’s 15th Annual Parks and Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

The theme for the 2016 conference was “Parks & Play, a Conversation for All Ages.”

Along with a full day of principle speakers and even more breakout sessions, Park Pride also presented its 2016 Inspiration Awards to seven recipients, including a Buckhead resident, a woman who was instrumental in the design of the Play Chastain playground and a woman who has been a parks champion for about 15 years in neighboring Sandy Springs.

South Buckhead resident Esther Stokes was presented an Inspiration Award for “her involvement in parks and green spaces spanning 18 years, over which time she served on the board and as board chair of both Park Pride and the Piedmont Park Conservancy.”

She also served on the boards of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and the Atlanta Audubon Society.

“Esther is a firm believer that all Atlantans in all neighborhoods should have access to quality parks, and she has relentlessly pursued her mission to this vision through to fruition,” read the

Play Atlanta founding director Cynthia Gentry is presented her Inspiration Award by Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki.

Play Atlanta founding director Cynthia Gentry is presented her Inspiration Award by Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki.

program notes.

Cynthia Gentry is the founding director of Play Atlanta, a nonprofit that advocates for play, helps communities set a vision for a playful environment, advises developers on integrating play spaces throughout project, educates about the importance of play and was instrumental in helping the Chastain Park Conservancy with the scope, design and execution of Play Chastain.

Her program award notes said, “Atlanta’s local play expert is a defender of children’s right to play. After a terrible accident struck her neighborhood, Cynthia found her calling through her first project of raising funds for a memorial playground, Since then she has dedicated her life to researching play, encouraging play and playing with her grandkids.”

Award recipient Linda Bain of Sandy Springs emerged as a “champion of the Sandy Springs Conservancy in 2001 when she served as a founding board member and then later went on to serve as executive director until her retirement in 2015,” according to the program.

“Her collaborative attitude has forged a cadre of friends and volunteers for the Conservancy and has made Linda the go-to person for counsel on green space in Sandy Springs for the media, land and homeowners, elected officials, schools and civic groups and more.”

(Personal note: BuckheadView’s editor met Bain when he was the founding editor of the Reporter Newspapers and began covering Sandy Springs. She was an invaluable resource of information and guidance and was and is a friend.)

Bain joined McHugh and Kansas AARP Associate State Director Adrea Bozarth on a panel discussion of the creation of three very different and playful park spaces—Chastain Park’s 40,000-

Former Sandy Springs Conservancy Executive Director Linda Bain is presented her 2016 Park Pride Award by Michael Halicki.

Former Sandy Springs Conservancy Executive Director Linda Bain is presented her 2016 Park Pride Award by Michael Halicki.

square-foot playground, the Sandy Springs Abernathy Greenway’s Playable Art Park and Wichita’s Grandparents Park in Kansas.

It was during McHugh’s discussion of the creation of Play Chastain that she announced the $11,000 raised in the first three weeks of selling personalized pavers to be used in the playground area. The pavers—priced at $150, $250 and $500—will fund the next phase of playground equipment.

Asked when McHugh expected the next phase of equipment to be put in place, she answered, “When we raise the money.”

McHugh also mentioned Cynthia Gentry during her presentation on Play Chastain and said, “If you work with Cynthia Gentry, you get a tree house.” A tree house for all ages and all levels of mobility is part of the new Play Chastain playground.

(To read BuckheadView’s coverage of the March 19 grand opening of the Chastain Park playground, click here.)

Switching from Chastain Park’s playground designed by kids for kids, the next speaker on the panel was Kansan Bozarth who explained that her grandparents park actually started out as a plan for a roundabout to calm traffic around a neighborhood school.

Instead they found two acres near the same location that the city owned and decided to make it into a Grandparents Park with walking trails, three-sided exercise station and finally added a playground for children under age 7, where of course they could play with their grandparents.

The total cost of the park was $21,000, which was picked up by the state’s AARP chapter. Yes, the park was designed for people over 50.

Chastain Park Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh talks about Play Chastain playground during her participation on a panel discussion about Play Themed Parks.

Chastain Park Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh talks about the new Play Chastain playground during her participation on a panel discussion about Play Themed Parks.

Finally, Bain described the process of finding an answer to deal with a GDOT project to widen Abernathy Road in Sandy Springs—to facilitate Cobb County traffic headed to Georgia 400—and to make it an amenity.

The answer was a lineal park along the road, gaining the space from the 44 homes that GDOT had to purchase for its road widening. Since this was going to be seen by thousands of motorists each day, it was determined to make everything placed in the park a piece of art.

Bain explained that every piece of art in the park is a custom-designed piece of playable equipment for children. Sandy Springs is promoting art in a public greenspace, but made it a play area for children as well.

Bain explained that child safety was the most difficult thing to deal with in having artists design and build custom pieces of playable art. She said it all was the result of a $300,000 grant from the Northside Hospital Foundation.

From the pictures Bain showed during her presentation, the Abernathy lineal park certainly seems like an experience worth visiting with children or grandchildren. It apparently attracts many thousands of parents and children during warm weather months and is also active in the winter.

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    One Response to Buckhead park, residents featured at Park Pride conference & awards

    1. Thank you for bringing attention to the wonderful Park Pride conference on parks and play. They did a fantastic job educating all about the enormous value of play.

      On a personal note, I am a Buckhead resident, too! I even grew up here.

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