The City of Atlanta ranks very low on the list of cities with available parkland. In 2004, planner Alexander Garvin proposed a solution: turn 22 miles of abandoned railroad line that circles 45 downtown and midtown neighborhoods into a redevelopment corridor with trails, modern street cars, and affordable housing. With help from The Trust for Public Land, the Beltline is one of the most ambitious urban-revitalization projects in the country. The "Emerald Necklace" is expected to increase green space by 40%, adding 1,300 acres of new parks and connecting 40 new and existing parks.
In 2006, the city bought a quarry in northwest portion of the city that had been in operation for more than 100 years as part of the project. On Sept. 6, 2018, officials gathered to break ground on what will become the city's largest park and major water-storage reservoir: Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.
The project's first phase includes creating a gateway entrance at the intersection of Johnson Road and Grove Park Place on the park's north side, with lighting and signage that promotes pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Grove Park Place will also be restored, including the removal of invasive species, roadway resurfacing, and rehabilitation of vegetation along the corridor.
Since September 2016, the Department of Watershed Management has been working to transform the quarry into a more than 2-billion-gallon drinking water reservoir that will increase the city’s emergency water supply from three days to 30 days.
"This will change the surrounding landscape far beyond just being the city's largest greenspace,” says Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “The park will become ground zero for some of the biggest economic investments ever seen on the Westside of Atlanta. It will help neighborhoods here thrive and return to their former glory, as well as be the home of an important back-up water source for the entire city.”