Mayoral Candidates Support Parks, Trees, Trails and Watersheds
by Michael Halicki, Park Pride’s Executive Director
Last week, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Mary Norwood participated in a Mayoral Forum on Greenspace that was held at Georgia State. The forum, moderated by Thomas Wheatley with Atlanta Magazine, focused on parks, trees, trails, and watersheds. Atlanta voters are presented with a choice of two very different candidates on December 5th and each candidate raised specific ideas that resonated with the audience. However, both candidates expressed support to:
- Maintain Atlanta’s 48% tree canopy coverage
- Increase funding for park maintenance
- Secure local funding necessary stay on track with the goal to complete construction of the Atlanta BeltLine park system by 2030
- Convene a Parks and Greenspace Task Force like the task force convened by Mayor Shirley Franklin 15 years ago
- Continue the work of Atlanta City Design and the Urban Ecology Framework
- Explore ways to fund the acquisition of forests in the city
- Leverage partnerships with park conservancies and neighborhood Friends of the Park groups
- Invest in park improvements across the city in ways that address issues of displacement and equity
- Honor the federally-approved consent decree for the city’s overhaul of its sewer system
You can view live-stream coverage from the event on Park Pride’s website.
The 11 organizations who hosted the forum included: Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia, Piedmont Park Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Georgia Conservancy, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Greening Youth Foundation.
For these organizations, last week’s event represented a culmination of a year of engagement working with each other in a concerted effort to educate Atlanta’s mayoral candidates. Efforts included a Mayoral Forum on Greenspace in July and in-depth issue discussion meetings with each of the mayoral candidates.
In past years, Park Pride had attempted to garner support from candidates for park-related issues by asking them to sign a concisely worded “Park Pledge.” This year, a broader set of groups (those listed above) came together to advance a wider range of environmental concerns. The groups stressed dialogue and discussion on complex environmental issues over tightly worded policy positions. In the place of the Park Pledge, candidates articulated their views on parks, trees, trails and watersheds in their own words by providing written responses to questions developed by the group that remain posted on the Park Pride and Trees Atlanta websites.
Following the election, the groups are hopeful that the next Mayor will continue to advance these issues and will look to these groups for help and support.
Featured photo (above):
Thomas Wheatley discusses parks, trees, trails, and watersheds with Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta’s runoff mayoral candidates.