By Louis Mayeux

The Chastain Park Civic Association board at its Oct. 26 meeting rejected a proposal to preserve parking spaces at the park’s green lot for Chastain Amphitheater promoters.

The new proposal was developed by the amphitheater promoters and the Chastain Park Conservancy. Conservancy board member and Chastain Park neighborhood resident Brian McHugh presented the new plan to the board.

Under an original Conservancy proposal in the park’s master plan, the green-lot space would be totally converted to recreational use under what McHugh called a “meadow concept.” A graffiti-covered tin warehouse would be removed. One field would be used for soccer, lacrosse or rugby, and a smaller one would be dedicated to free play. Park Drive would be used for concert parking.

But McHugh said the amphitheater promoters objected that using Park Drive for parking would be impractical. Live Nation and Woodruff Arts Center’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra are the main amphitheater promoters.

Instead, the revised proposal would preserve 100 to 150 parking spaces in the green-lot area. The promoters, under their contract with the city of Atlanta, now receive receipts from 76 parking spaces in the green lot.

Chastain Park Civic Association President Jim King said the revised plan had not been presented to the board until 4 p.m. the day of the meeting. He and other board members accused the amphitheater promoters of using their political and financial power in an effort to preserve the parking revenue.

The issue, King said, is “a venture making money off parking, versus the public good. … The venture does not have the right to land where there is supposed to be ballfields.”

King disclosed that he found no specific mention of the 76 parking spaces in searching the contract between the city’s parks department and the promoters.

In reaction to this, the board unanimously approved a motion by Bill Kasper to clarify how many parking spaces the promoters receive and that the promoters lose their right to the parking spaces.

Kasper and King said that the promoters have moved up their negotiations with the city for renewal of their contract to get a deal done before a new city administration takes office. The negotiations were supposed to begin next year, but they have been moved up to this year, they said.

After the board voted to reject the conservancy’s revised proposal, King appointed a committee of the board’s land use and planning experts to develop a comprehensive plan for the north side of the park, including the green lot space.

The board’s proposal, which would incorporate its desire to make Park Drive a pedestrian mall, was to be completed within a week and voted on by e-mail.