Grant Supports Preliminary Study for Atlanta Urban Ecology Resource Center in Vine City

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Invest Atlanta has given a $100,000 grant to Community Improvement Association, the lead partner for the Atlanta Urban Ecology Resource Center (AUERC) Collaborative. The grant will fund a feasibility study for the creation of the Center and will be sited near the soon-to-be-developed Boone Park West in the English Avenue neighborhood in NW Atlanta.

The Center will provide environmental education for students of all ages, host events, provide employment opportunities, and be a valuable resource for the Westside communities within the Proctor Creek watershed.

“We see the Center as being able to deliver a variety of positive outcomes for the local community, including environmental education, workforce training, and employment opportunities,” said Shannon Lee, the Urban Conservation Manager at The Conservation Fund. “In addition, by siting this facility in English Avenue, AUERC offers a chance to reconnect this community with downtown and deliver additional benefits to local residents.”

The feasibility study grant will enable the AUERC Collaborative to build out future programming, and to work hand-in-hand with the community to identify the Center’s long-term goals and objectives. The study will also outline funding, operational, and capital campaign requirements this project will need to ensure long-term sustainability.

“This is looking at the idea of building an environmental resource center that’s focused on K-12 education, but also plays a role in terms of hosting jobs training events and other activities along those lines,” said Michael Halicki, Executive Director of Park Pride. “It’s really trying to provide something that’s more than a park and helps to lift up the community in a meaningful way.”

The Collaborative performing the study consists of several community groups and non-profits, including the Community Improvement Association, ECO-Action, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WASA), Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, and University Center Development Corporation of the Atlanta University Center.

The idea of creating the Atlanta Urban Ecology Resource Center came from Tony Torrence of the Community Improvement Association, a grassroots organization based in English Avenue. While on a trip to Milwaukee sponsored by The Conservation fund, Tony saw the benefits their Urban Ecology Center had within the Riverside Park neighborhood. He quickly brought the idea back with him to Atlanta.

All of this is part of a larger effort to provide the Westside with additional greenspace to beautify and improve the quality of life in these neighborhoods.  Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park have recently opened, thanks to the support of Invest Atlanta, Park Pride, The Conservation Fund, the Arthur Blank Foundation, and others. Boone Park West is set to be built soon. Once open, Boone Park West will not only create a safe place for kids and families to gather, but it will also reduce the impacts of flooding by providing nearly 300,000 gallons of additional stormwater storage capacity.