Save the Trees of Grant Park, Inc.  |  savethetreesgp@gmail.com

© 2019.  Save the Trees of Grant Park, Inc.
 

WHY IT MATTERS

Unreplaced and Irreplaceable Trees
  • Atlanta's tree conservation ordinances require recompense or replacement of healthy trees only.  Therefore, although about 400 trees are to be cut down for the zoo expansion and parking deck, replacement plans only require the city to consider replacement of 2/3 of the trees being removed.  What's worse, the replacement plan does not account for the fact that a portion of the replacement trees will die. The City requires only that these trees live for one year.

  • The Grant Park Gateway project does not convert the entire Boulevard lot into greenspace, a point which is frequently misunderstood. The greenspace of the Grant Park Gateway project is the grass-covered top of the parking deck and only accounts for about 2.5 acres of the Boulevard lot. The current terraced Boulevard lot is approximately 7 acres. The remaining 4.5 acres will be developed by non-greenspace functions: a parking lot for buses, entry/exit access roadways into the parking deck, and a restaurant.

  • Specimen trees are trees known for their large size or species. Such trees are highly valued and not easily replaced. Extra care is usually taken to spare them from destruction.  The Grant Park Gateway parking deck includes the removal of trees which meet the definition of a specimen tree per Atlanta's tree conservation ordinances.

  • Young, smaller, replacement trees will not mature for decades. They will not contribute to cleaning the air, reducing noise and rainwater runoff, and supporting abundant wildlife like the existing trees do during our lifetime.

  • Mature trees are literally worth more.  In Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia, mature trees positively influenced home sale prices. Homes sold for nearly $105,000 more in neighborhoods with mature trees. (University of Georgia, 2002)  Other studies have also shown that people place a higher value on mature trees and are therefore willing to pay more for them.  We must conserve the treasure that is the mature trees of Grant Park.

       

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Public Health
  • A mature tree can sequester over 40 lbs of carbon dioxide a year.  Together the trees marked for removal in Grant Park sequester over 100 tons of carbon dioxide every 6 years (about 17.7 tons/year).  These trees improve public health by keeping pollutants out of our lungs by trapping and removing dust, ash, pollen, and smoke with their leaves.

  • The plans for Grant Park Gateway not only eliminate at least 131 healthy trees from within the park but they also invite in more than 1,000 carbon-dioxide generating vehicles. At a time when the City planning commissioner is working to identify solutions to take more cars off the roads and build sustainable transportation options, this parking lot seems counterproductive.

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Heritage
  • In its listing for the Grant Park Historic District, the National Park Service notes that mature trees line the streets in the Grant Park neighborhood.  Many of these street trees also form a border around the park. Notably, most of the trees lining Boulevard are on the chopping block under current development plans. This plan not only infringes upon the identity of the historic area but also stands to diminish area home values.

  • Olmsted believed that materials, construction and forms in a park should be governed by a naturalistic concept so as to be harmonious and inconspicuous in the landscapes. With its imposing multi-story structure, flat terrain, 7,500 capacity entertainment venue, and a modern restaurant, Grant Park Gateway is out of sync with the Olmsted vision.

  • Grant Park is an historic park based on plans re-created in the early 1900’s by the architectural landscape firm of one of America's foremost park designers, Frederick Law Olmsted.  Olmsted designed New York's Central Park and Atlanta's Piedmont Park, among many others.

  • Olmsted placed importance on mature trees and installed thousands of them in New York's Central Park.  In his designs, mature trees serve a vital role in establishing the landscape’s character.  (U.S. National Park Service, Clippings, “Field Notes”) We should also be seeking to maximize public enjoyment of this Olmsted park for all generations. 

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Environmental Impact
  • Mature trees in large areas (such as Grant Park) capture rain in their canopy which reduces stormwater runoff.  The plans for Grant Park Gateway add insult to injury in Grant Park by cutting down the trees around the pond in order to expand the pond's capacity for retaining additional stormwater runoff from the parking deck.

  • Mature trees offset increased temperatures generated from concrete and asphalt by generating cool air through a process known as evapotranspiration, which is when they release water through their leaves. According to the EPA, "Evapotranspiration, alone or in combination with shading, can help reduce peak summer temperatures by 2–9°F (1–5°C). The grass-covered space on top of the parking deck will not only be subject to direct exposure from the summer sun,  but also hotter than park areas under the shade of the tree canopy.  

  • According to a presentation by Trees Atlanta and the Georgia Conservancy, “The Importance of Trees,” lawns have the same environmental effect as concrete. The added “greenspace” will be a 2.5 acre lawn on the deck rooftop that will require massive amounts of chemical treatment to keep green.

  • A group of trees can reduce noise by up to 50%. With the addition of the permanent bandstand and the rooftop space on top of the deck that accommodates 7,169 occupants, the deck will be the new venue for live bands.  The noise generated from a live band on top of the parking deck will be heard throughout the neighborhood.

  • The mature tree canopy maintains a rich wildlife of birds (woodpeckers, cardinals, owls, hawks, etc.), squirrels, and other creatures.  Because of the size of the area being clearcut, these animals will be displaced and their habitats are expected to be lost. There are birders and naturalists who seek out Grant Park for its diverse species. Were they consulted or even considered during this process?

Public Process
  • The City of Atlanta has great ideas for sketching a smarter city plan for Atlanta that include several core values, one of which is to allow equitable participation in Atlanta’s prosperity.  This core value was ignored in the development of the Grant Park Gateway. 

  • No public meetings were held to engage the community during the development phase.  Prior to the RFP being released, the only public meeting held where the city presented the idea of a 1,000 car parking deck was a meeting to get input for a parking study that was poorly advertised (May 2016 rec center). The parking deck was never presented at the NPU-W (neighborhood planning unit for the contiguous neighborhoods).  

  • There was no formal input by organizations that have historically held events in Grant Park, like House in the Park or the Bronx Day reunion. Instead, Zoo Atlanta and select leaders of the Grant Park Neighborhood Association and Grant Park Conservancy determined the fate of this public park.  

  • Grant Park, while it may be the geographic and spiritual center of the Grant Park neighborhood, does not belong to its immediate neighbors. As Atlanta’s oldest public park and a regional park, Grant Park draws visitors from all over the city, the state, and the world.  Many groups have historically held their events in the Park, drawing visitors year after year who do not live nearby but who love Grant Park for its natural setting. For its trees.