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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Psst — Historic Fourth Ward Park, the newest Beltline greenspace, opens

Historic Fourth Ward Park, a new — and dare we say pretty damn cool? — Atlanta Beltline greenspace near the Masquerade and City Hall East quietly "opened" over the last few days. Word is spreading that the fences are gone, the construction crews have left, and folks are checking out the five-acre park, the first phase of a much larger greenspace that will ultimately connect to Ralph McGill Boulevard and include the city's first public skate park.

We say "opened" because officials with Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit organization tasked with planning and developing the project, haven't formally announced the park's free to explore. A Beltline spokesman a grand opening is being planned for later this spring to coincide with the unveiling of H4WP's remaining 17 acres. But in the meantime, you're welcome to visit.

What you'll find if you mosey that way: The centerpiece stormwater retention pond surrounded by tall granite walls, a 350-seat natural amphitheatre, and chairs carved from stones by local artist Maria Artemis, among other interesting features. The park, a joint project between ABI and the city department of watershed management, not only creates a green amenity — it also helps Atlanta meet a federal judge's order to overhaul the city's aging sewer system. (Here's a wonk-tastic, detailed October post by Maria Saporta explaining how the pond's able to do that.)

The public can access the park via Morgan Street, Dallas Street and Edith Street. Rankin Street will be another access point, but it's being paved this week. Wheelchair access to the pond is available at the intersection of Garden Park Drive and Morgan Street. (Here's a Google Maps link to check out the streets.) There currently is no direct access between the greenspace and the Beltline corridor, which is scheduled to soon see construction of a 2.5-mile bike trail connecting DeKalb Avenue and Piedmont Park. Don't be surprised if you encounter work crews ironing out final kinks.

We're locked in a basement where we're typing up Very Serious Articles™, but we hear it's a nice day out. Report back if you visit the park.

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