Dobbs Elementary School in Atlanta is one of two elementary school playgrounds chosen for a pilot program that will turn the schoolyards into public parks for general use during non-school hours. AJC file photo taken on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. EMILY HANEY /
Photo: Emily Haney
Photo: Emily Haney

2 Atlanta schoolyards to be public parks; eight more to come

Playgrounds at two Atlanta elementary schools will do double duty as public parks thanks to a new program and big donations.

Parks groups announced Wednesday that Dobbs and Kimberly elementary schools have been selected for a pilot program that will transform their schoolyards into after-hours parks open for general public use.

The groups plan to upgrade and open 10 school playgrounds in the next three years so that they can be used by nearby residents. The idea is to add more green space and recreation areas in neighborhoods that lack parks.

The groups announced $1.5 million has been raised to pay for playground renovations, which could include benches, shade trees and other amenities.

Students and residents will help decide how to redesign the sites and what upgrades to add. Construction work will begin next summer, when Dobbs and Kimberly schoolyards officially will open for public use after school, on weekends and during the summer.

Dobbs is on Jonesboro Road in southeast Atlanta and Kimberly is on McMurray Drive in southwest Atlanta.

“We are thrilled to help hundreds of families within a 10-minute walk of these schools benefit from greater access to safe outdoor recreation areas,” said George Dusenbury, Georgia state director for The Trust for Public Land, in a written statement.

The Trust is one of several organizations supporting the project — called the Atlanta Community Schoolyards program. Other supporters include Atlanta Public Schools, the City of Atlanta, Park Pride and Urban Land Institute Atlanta.

Over the next three years, Delta Air Lines will donate $500,000 and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will give $1 million to help pay for the project. Organizers want to raise a total of $1.8 million for Atlanta schoolyard projects and $1.5 million for projects in other school districts.

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