By Jacob Arnold
Grant Park is well known for welcoming big picnics and gatherings every weekend during the summer season, and hosts more family reunions than any other Atlanta park. The appeal to gather with friends and family and grill out in a shady park is undeniable, and the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) welcomes these gatherings. Up until now, however, the amenities needed to properly host these get-togethers haven’t always been attractive or consistently available.
That is why after many months of planning, fundraising, and working with the City of Atlanta arborists and Department of Parks and Recreation’s design and permit process, the GPC is happy to have broken ground on several of our upgraded picnic spots! These improvements are possible through the generous support of the Waterfall Foundation and Park Pride’s Legacy Grant Program.
Five locations throughout the park have been selected because of their heavy use as family gathering and picnic areas. The current picnic area situation often leads to worn patches and the occasional misplaced trash can or picnic table, so the GPC wanted to provide a permanent spot specifically set aside for these types of gatherings. Alisa Chambers, Director of Operations for the GPC says, “It’s time for our picnic amenities to be as aesthetically pleasing as the environment they reside in! We are thrilled to be able to provide a place where people can go and find the items they need to have a fun and safe gathering in Grant Park, year after year.”
Each spot will feature a decomposed granite or paver pad, depending on the location, with installed picnic tables, trash cans and hot coal receptacles. It is the GPC’s vision that having these improved picnic spots will allow park attendees to host picnic gatherings and will encourage everybody to dispose of their waste in the receptacles provided. In the past, park patrons have moved picnic tables closer to the base of trees, which tramples the ground around the tree and eventually leads to erosion. The new picnic tables and receptacles will be attached to the pads in order to prevent them from being moved. As has always been the tradition, grills will be allowed, and the spots will be available on a first come, first served basis.
The GPC has also purchased additional trash cans and hot coal receptacles that will be installed around the park in other locations. Just as a friendly reminder, improper placement of charcoal after picnic gatherings is detrimental to our park! Not only can these hot coals unintentionally hurt a curious kid or dog in the park, they also shorten the lives of our trees, and could potentially start a fire. Coals that have been placed in the correct receptacles can later be used as recycled fertilizer and help to preserve the beauty of the park. The five locations of Grant Park’s upgraded picnic spots are: Fort Walker, Lemuel’s Landing (Berne Street), Cherokee Meadow Bowl (off Sydney Avenue), next to the playground, and two spots near the Milledge Fountain.
John Sittion, owner of Dimension Works and manager of the project, mentioned some challenges that he has faced so far. “The most challenging part is the logistics around getting the materials to the spots because most of the areas are not located near a road where we can just park and have stage material out. We also have be sensitive to trees and their roots that surround the construction sites so that we don’t harm them. Other than that, construction has been smooth sailing.”
These picnic spots will be available for use as soon as construction is complete. Expect Lemuel’s Landing at Berne Street to be the first area completed. The rest of the spots will be under construction with the majority of them completed by the start of Summer Shade Festival on August 26 and 27. Some spots will take a little longer, but the goal is to have them available for use as soon as possible. Have fun grilling with your family in Grant Park!