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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vandals target Beltline park, remind us why we can't have nice things

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  • Atlanta Beltline Inc./Flickr
Well, this is just wonderful. D.H. Stanton Park, a southeast Atlanta greenspace along the Beltline that recently opened after a $4.5 million renovation, has already become a target of local vandals. Via David Pendered of the Saporta Report:

The graffiti apparently isn’t of a nature that can be considered urban art.

“It’s F— You,” said Atlanta Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd. [...]

The park’s recent destruction is beyond that of neighborhood pranksters, based on comments from city parks Commissioner George Dusenberry.

“It’s breaking glass walls and windows, tearing water fountains off walls,” Dusenberry said. “It is vandalism — thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.”

In addition to broken glass, says William Teasley, chair of the Friends of Peoplestown Parks, residents have noticed spray-paint on a bike sculpture and water fountain and evidence of an attempted break-in at D.H. Stanton's press box.

"It's a new park," Teasley told CL. "Anything you see is upsetting. We came together and said, 'We need to own this, be more visible, get out, and talk to the residents and users.'"

In addition to cleaning up the vandalism, Teasley says, residents have since coordinated volunteer patrols throughout the day and contacted police about activity in the park after 11 p.m. He thinks the vandalism will taper off at D.H. Stanton, which he says has been embraced by community members and surrounding neighborhoods.

Mike Dobbins, a Georgia Tech professor and former Atlanta planning commissioner who attended the Council meeting when the vandalism was discussed, told CL on Tuesday that Beltline officials should have considered creating a program prior to the park's opening to train nearby residents to provide security for the park. The move would've provided jobs and helped the community invest in the new park, he argues.

According to a Beltline spokesman, construction crews who built the park are still responsible for its maintenance and will address acts of vandalism until it's turned over to the city.

"We've been in constant communication with Councilwoman Carla Smith, APD and members of the community," Davidson told CL. "There's an invested group of stakeholders who are upset and want to stop it. We're working with them to accomplish that. It's not going to happen overnight. But with a concerted effort by everyone we'll hopefully get through this initial period."

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