By John F. Schaffner
editor@reporternewspapers.netThe Chastain Park Conservancy (CPC) is in the process of forging a new master plan for 238-acre Chastain Park—the city’s largest park—and wants the help of residents and users of the park in setting priorities and the long-term vision for the park.

To that end, the Conservancy has distributed and put on its website a survey to obtain public input as part of the information gathering aspect of the eight-month study leading up to the development of the new master plan. Survey results will be collected until February 14. The CPC hopes to have a final master plan completed by late summer of this year.

The CPC is a non-profit organization formed by Chastain neighbors to restore, enhance, maintain and preserve Chastain Park. Since 2003, it has signed up over 1,000 members—almost evenly split between residents of Atlanta and residents of Sandy Springs—and has been responsible for a number of park improvements in partnership with the city of Atlanta and the park’s operating partners.

As it moves toward developing a new master plan for the park, the CPC would like to know from residents of the two cities if they visit Chastain Park, what they like about the park, what works and what doesn’t and what would make the park better.

Those interested in participating in the survey can do so by going to the Conservancy’s website:

Chastain Park contains a great diversity of facilities and venues—some of which are independently operated—including a horse park, historic golf course, pool and tennis facilities, arts center, ball fields, gymnasium, walking trails, picnic areas and one of Atlanta’s most popular and long standing concert venues.

The Conservancy was formed in 2003 to restore, enhance, maintain and preserve Chastain Park, and to serve as a forum for all of the park’s stakeholders. Since then, the Conservancy has completed many projects aimed at making the park safer, cleaner and greener.

In cooperation with all the park stakeholders, the CPC installed a severe weather detection and warning system at key locations throughout the park. Severe weather conditions will trigger a loud horn blast that will last 15 seconds and activate strobe lights located on top of the horns that will remain active while under a weather alert. The system then will indicate an all clear when the danger has passed.

The Conservancy also has erected a shelter for protection from inclement weather at the southernmost point of the golf course, which is the furthest point from the golf clubhouse.

In 2006, the Conservancy and the City of Atlanta entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to formally establish the Conservancy’s role in maintaining and preserving Chastain Park. Developing a new master plan is formally part of CPC’s role under the MOU.

The Conservancy has chosen a team to prepare the new master plan. The team is led by the Atlanta office of EDAW, a prominent international landscape architecture and planning firm, and will include Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc., who will head up the traffic management and parking component of the planning. Additional consultants will lend expertise on park operations, architectural design standards and stakeholder involvement.

The last comprehensive Master Plan approved for Chastain Park was completed in 1984; an update was done in 2003, though never fully approved by the city.

The effort will be led by a committee of the Conservancy board which includes Ed Castro, J.P. Matzigkeit, Ray Mock, and Justin Wiedeman. Mock, who is the Conservancy’s director of operations, said the Conservancy seeks to develop a comprehensive vision for the entire park—restoring and protecting its appearance as a historic and green oasis—as well as recommendations regarding land use, programming, architectural and maintenance standards and ways to alleviate recurring traffic and parking concerns and improve pedestrian safety.

Mock, who is a native Atlantan and has been actively involved with Chastain Park for most of his life, has been deeply involved with the city’s parks over many years in his work with Park Pride. He is the lead spokesperson for the CPC’s efforts to inform the city’s neighborhood planning units (NPUs) and other civic groups about the master plan process and goals.

He explains that the master plan will spell out the long-term vision and plan for the park, as well as setting the framework for individual improvement projects so that it all works together. It provides coordination between projects so that the overall results are more cost-effective and harmonious.

At present, the consultant team is reviewing the previous plans, doing some traffic study work and analyzing site conditions. Then the team will work with the CPC and the more than a dozen independent operators to develop preliminary concepts for general park enhancements, traffic, parking and other issues. The online survey and public meetings throughout the process will bring input from park users and the community at large.

The preliminary ideas will be reviewed by the Conservancy, city and all partners and the preliminary plan then will go through a wider review and input from neighborhoods. The plan ultimately will be submitted to the city for approval, and the process should be completed by late summer.

But for right now, Mock and other members of the CPC committee are urging those residents of Atlanta and Sandy Springs who use the park and have an interest in its future development and preservation to participate in the survey online at