$4 million will boost park projects in Atlanta, DeKalb

The Cascade Springs Nature Conservancy plans to use its grant to build overlooks to view the falls at the nature preserve.

Credit: Contributed by Atlanta Trails

Credit: Contributed by Atlanta Trails

The Cascade Springs Nature Conservancy plans to use its grant to build overlooks to view the falls at the nature preserve.

More than three dozen parks across Atlanta and DeKalb County will receive a record-setting $3.9 million in grants this year from Park Pride, an Atlanta-based nonprofit.

Among the projects are new playgrounds, trail signage, accessible parking and walkways — all improvements pitched by community groups interested in sprucing up their neighborhood parks.

Founded in 1989, the group has awarded grants for the last 20 years. The latest round is the largest ever, the result of a capital campaign that has allowed Park Pride to both increase the grant totals as well as expand its investment in historically underfunded communities.

Historically, community groups had to match Park Pride’s grants. The requirement shut out a lot of neighborhoods that didn’t have the resources to fundraise, Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki said.

He said it became clear in 2020 that the nonprofit needed to change its approach. When the pandemic started, people turned to their neighborhood parks as an escape. But it also became clear that not all neighborhoods had access to quality green spaces.

In 2021, Park Pride dropped the matching requirement for projects in neighborhoods where more than half of residences are at or below 80% of the area median income.

”We need to make sure we’re meeting communities where they’re at,” Halicki said. “It’s as much about community empowerment as it is about parks and green space.”

Park Pride’s grants are funded through public and private sources. The City of Atlanta contributes and several City Council members have earmarked additional money for the grants.

“We strive to build a world-class parks system in Atlanta, one that is safe, accessible and enriching for residents and visitors,” Atlanta Parks and Recreation Commissioner Justin Cutler said in a statement. “Park Pride is helping make that happen by working with communities to realize their park plans and dreams.”

This year’s grant recipients have proposed a wide range of projects. Grants will help cover the costs of playground equipment at several parks, including DeKalb Memorial Park, Lang Carson Park and Perkerson Park. Melvin Drive Park is getting funding for a disc golf course, and Phoenix II Park will get pickleball courts.

Other projects are designed to increase accessibility by adding walkways, benches and ADA parking.

“The different improvements are the things that people felt like right now is what we really need,” Halicki said.

Atlanta-based nonprofit Parks Pride has awarded $3.9 million in grants to fund projects throughout Atlanta and DeKalb County. The purple icons represent projects in historically disinvested communities.

Credit: Courtesy of Park Pride

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of Park Pride

Selected parks

  • Bessie Branham Park
  • Blue Heron Nature Preserve
  • Brownwood Park
  • Cabbagetown Park
  • Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
  • Cedar Park
  • Chattahoochee Park
  • Chosewood Park
  • Cleopas R. Johnson Park
  • Coach Charles Rambo Sr. Park (formerly known as Anderson Park)
  • DeKalb Memorial Park
  • East Lake Park
  • Findley Plaza
  • Freedom Park
  • Harper Park
  • Herbert Taylor Park and Daniel Johnson Park
  • Howell Park
  • Jennie Drake Park
  • June Elois Mundy Park
  • Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park
  • Lang Carson Park
  • Lillian Cooper Shepherd Park
  • Little Nancy Creek Park
  • Melvin Drive Park
  • Mozley Park
  • Oakland Cemetery
  • Old Ivy Park
  • Perkerson Park
  • Phoenix II Park
  • Rose Circle Park
  • Sara J. González Park
  • Springbrook Park
  • Springvale Park
  • Thomasville Park
  • The Urban Food Forest
  • West End Park
  • Yonah Park

An earlier version of this story misstated the circumstances where Park Pride has chosen to waive the matching funds requirement. It has since been updated.