FRIENDS OF PIEDMONT PARK
Position on the Parking Deck
Summary of Position
Friends of Piedmont Park opposes the plan by the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Piedmont Park Conservancy to build a six-story, 800-car parking deck in the heart of Piedmont Park. The location of the proposed parking deck makes no sense, would significantly damage the Park, and is contrary to the Piedmont Park Master Plan. There are good alternatives that would make Piedmont Park more accessible for all people and that would protect the Park for today's park users as well as future generations.
The Atlanta Botanical Garden Parking Deck Proposal (See images here)
The proposed parking deck:
- Would be 6 stories tall, with almost 800 parking spaces
- Would be located in the interior of Piedmont Park
- Would permanently destroy at least 80 mature trees, historic land forms, wildlife habitat, and green space
- Would generate thousands of new car trips inside the Park each week
- Would be accessed from Monroe Drive by a 1/2 mile road which would cut through the Park
- Would be accessed from Piedmont Avenue by a 1/4 mile road which would change the existing pedestrian path at The Prado into a two-lane road for cars
- Would charge approximately $1.75 per hour for parking, with special event rates probably higher
- Would cost at least $16 million
- Would require an extensive system of roads, turnarounds, drop off lanes, payment turnstiles, fencing, nighttime lighting, and other support systems in and around the Park.
- Was proposed by the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Piedmont Park Conservancy
- Was approved by the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Shirley Franklin
Detailed Positions of the Friends of Piedmont Park
Point 1. The proposed location of the parking deck is wrong, even if the Atlanta Botanical Garden wants a parking solution.
- It is unacceptable to convert public green space to concrete to accommodate Atlanta Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park Conservancy high-end special events.
- The destruction of parkland, trees, wildlife habitat, green space, and historic land forms will be irreversible and an extreme solution.
- Traffic within the Park will become a daily hazard and annoyance for park users.
- A fee-based deck will be an economic burden for many park users.
Point 2. Access to Piedmont Park should be improved for all park users, including those who want to drive to the Park. But there are far better ways to improve access than the Atlanta Botanical Garden parking deck and using a combination of them would make the Park more accessible for today's park users while protecting and improving the Park for generations to come. Friends of Piedmont Park does not support one specific access plan for the Park. Rather, we think the citizens of Atlanta should make the decision about what is best for Piedmont Park. But following are just some of many options and ideas that are readily available and logical:
New Non-Motor Vehicle Access to Piedmont Park
o MARTA and intown shuttles should be included as key parts of the new access solution. MARTA recently began the Tourist Loop, which serves major downtown destinations, and specifically serves Piedmont Park and the Botanical Garden
o Pedestrian, trail, and bicycle access to the Park should be enhanced. These options cannot alone solve the access issue, but they can make a real difference.
o Top priority must be given to high quality connectivity to the Park via the Belt Line, which goes through Piedmont Park. The Belt Line will result in a substantial amount of new commercial and residential buildings next to and near the Park.
This will result in many new parking opportunities that should be used to improve access to the Park.
o Full use should be made of commercial parking lots near the park, especially on weekends and during large events.
o Additional on-street parking should be allowed near the Park (e.g., Tenth Street), especially on weekends and during large events.
o If new parking is built in Piedmont Park, it should be located at the edges of the Park to lessen vehicle intrusions, reduce damage to the Park, and lessen safety and health risks.
Parking and Access for the Atlanta Botanical Garden
o The Atlanta Botanical Garden leases 33 acres in the Park, ample land on which to build a parking deck. In 2000, the Botanical Garden received approval to build a parking deck on its own site. The Botanical Garden could put several stories of parking completely underground on the site of its present parking lot.
o Shuttles successfully moved tens of thousands of Botanical Garden visitors in 2005 for the Chihuly Exhibit, and the Botanical Garden is currently using a shuttle from Colony Square for its Niki in the Garden exhibit.
Point 3. Construction of the Atlanta Botanical Garden should be postponed until issues and options are properly addressed. The parking deck proposal should be sent back to the drawing board for objective study and review.
o Halting construction of the parking deck will improve the chances of selecting the best location for new parking at Piedmont Park, rather than relying on the decision of a small group of people.
o More time will allow the decision of how to improve accessibility to Piedmont Park to account for new transit, trails, and parking spaces along the Beltline.
o Pausing construction will give time to evaluate serious public health and safety risks in the parking deck plan. What evaluations have been done about the dangers to park goers due to the large numbers of cars in the Park going to and from the parking deck? What analyses have been done regarding how the thousands of cars crossing the Belt Line to get to the Parking Deck will impact safety of people using the Belt Line? The road which would serve the parking deck from Monroe Drive now is exclusively used as a service road for the Sewage Treatment Plant. Hazardous materials (including chlorine and sewage) are regularly delivered to and removed from the facility. What studies have been done to assess possible safety and health risks when cars going to and from the parking deck are regularly passing the trucks handling these hazardous materials? These and many other critical questions were never considered during the decision making process. They are too important to be treated as "details" to be resolved later.
Point 4. The Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Piedmont Park Conservancy, and the City of Atlanta must use existing contracting and competitive bid procedures to select firms to build the parking deck, as required by Georgia laws that apply to public works projects.
o The Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Piedmont Park Conservancy are violating the Georgia Open Records Act. They are withholding information relevant to potential safety and health risks involving the parking deck.
o The City of Atlanta violated the Georgia Constitution's "Gratuities Clause" by conveying parkland and revenue opportunities without receiving fair value in
o Implementing the plans of the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Piedmont Park Conservancy would constitute an unlawful conversion of public parkland into non-public, non-park uses.
Point 5. The Atlanta Botanical Garden Parking Deck is not Consistent with the Piedmont Park Master Plan.
The Piedmont Park Master Plan was adopted and approved in 1995. It is flexible and forward-thinking and "seeks to establish a balanced course, one which addresses the current needed improvements and, at the same time, prepares [Piedmont Park] for the expected changes in the City and future park usage." (p. 9) It is "intended to guide the growth, improvements and changes expected to occur within, and adjacent to, the park over the coming decades." (p. 9).
The Piedmont Park Master Plan contains key principles which access and transit developments affecting the Park must support:
- Improving accessibility to and within the Park, especially through public transportation and non-motorized vehicle options (pp. 22-23, 27-28)
- Enhancing open green spaces (pp. 20-21, 23-24, 25, 27)
- Minimizing vehicular conflicts with pedestrians (pp. 22-23)
The Atlanta Botanical Garden parking deck would not promote any of these principles and would violate the express recommendations in the Master Plan to:
- "Reduce and ultimately eliminate automobile access into the park." (p. 23)
- "Reduce the existing interior parking to 50 spaces dedicated to serving the Piedmont Park Tennis Center." (p. 23)
- "Develop a 117-to-150 space, secured pay parking facility as part of the [Combined Sewage Overflow] Treatment Facility [off Monroe Drive]." (p. 23)