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Atlanta parks get low marks in national survey | News

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Atlanta parks get low marks in national survey

From a traffic circle with one tree and a bed of flowers to the sprawling esplanades of Piedmont Park, the city of Atlanta boasts more than 300 green-spaces where people can relax and play and just take a break from city life.
Despite that, the Trust for Public Land lists the city's parks in the bottom half of the 40 it surveyed across the country recently.
So to get our own picture of the state of our parks, we went out to talk to the experts.
"It's awesome!" exclaimed six year-old Hannah Paulson, as she ran through Historic Old Fourth Ward Park. "Because we're really not that far away."
In fact, little Hannah is exactly right.
Accessibility to the parks was a major criterion in the ranking, and Atlanta scored points in that category.
"The first time I came over here, I was shocked. I was really amazed; I had no idea they had built all this. It's really amazing." That was Jonathan Coryell's reaction when he first visited the Old 4th Ward Park, one of the city's newest.
"My kids love it," he added. "I come down here all the time. I work downtown. We come down here as often as we can. The water is perfect in the summer, and they've got a great playground."
While locals heap high praise on the park system, the trust believes Atlanta needs much more park land.
But the city counters that assertion. Parks Commissioner George Dusenbury says "it's the quality not quantity" that's the true measure of a good park system.
Others agree.
"We moved just before Christmas, and we have loved the playgrounds and parks," said Amy Paulson, whose family relocated here from Chicago. "We were actually in the west suburbs, a really nice area, and they don't hold a candle to what we have going on here."
Chicago ranked number 14 on the list.
Many Atlanta residents want to see the parks incorporate more urban gardens like the one near Wheat Street Baptist off Auburn Avenue. The organic crops are being grown on private property but could easily be adapted to grow on public land.
"It's really trying to look at land in a creative way," said Tatille Jackson of the Truly Living Well Center, which runs the garden. "No matter how it's currently being used or un-used there's always a use for it."
The Trust for Public Land did note that under Mayor Kasim Reed, the park land has actually grown significantly.
Enough in fact for several Piedmont Parks.