If you've ever stepped out of Ormsby's, Bocado or Bone Lick BBQ and felt that something was missing on Atlanta's burgeoning Westside, you're probably not alone. A tremendous wave of commercial development has resuscitated the formerly forlorn industrial district over the last decade, and demand-driven development shows no signs of slowing down. But can Westside's quality of life keep pace with the brick-and-mortar influx without a substantial new green-space soon (not to mention traffic-easing solutions for the nightmare that Howell Mill Road is becoming)? The good news: Neighborhood-altering initiatives — the Beltline's Westside Reservoir Park and grassroots efforts to open the Atlanta Waterworks grounds as a public space — are in the offing. The disconcerting news: Both projects are still concepts at this point and could be years from being outdoor realities. For Outdoors Week 2014, we take a glance at each potential super park and ask which would be more vital to a truly thriving Westside.
ATLANTA WATERWORKS PARK:
Prior to the Centennial Olympic Games, the Atlanta Waterworks property at 17th and Howell Mill Road was a publically accessible park space. Concerns of terrorists poising Atlanta's water supply during the Olympics necessitated fences that have encircled the property ever since. Talk of reopening the grounds has been going on for years, but in recent months real, substantive efforts have gained traction, gathering news coverage and the support of at least one Atlanta City Councilperson. However, as one leader recently told Creative Loafing, the project is still very much in early conceptual stages with no cost estimate. But the initiative to reopen Atlanta Waterworks Park proved the public has its back during a recent "friendraiser" at Monday Night Brewing, tallying $17,000. And its Facebook page has racked up 1,000 "Likes."
WESTSIDE RESERVOIR PARK:
A little farther southwest, at the shuttered Bellwood Quarry, Atlanta's biggest park could one day welcome bicyclists, joggers and stroller-pushers who've traveled there via the Beltline. At 350 acres, the Beltline's Westside Reservoir Park could make Piedmont Park look like a manicured backyard, but it's a monster project (estimated at $100 million) that needs funding in the worst way.
At least the city already owns the property, having bought it for $40 million in 2006. The deep, deep quarry would be transformed into a lake (with one huge wall of granite jutting from the water) and would provide the entire city a 30-day backup water supply. What's more, the proposed park's connectivity could be solid from the get-go; the Bankhead MARTA Station is near the park's southern flank.