Willis Park renovations may wait a little longer

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 22, 2015
An updated rendering for proposed renovations to Willis Park in Avondale Estates.

An updated rendering for proposed renovations to Willis Park in Avondale Estates.

This story has been updated. 

Avondale Estates has been talking about renovating Willis Park off and on since 2011.

A city consultant discussed the latest renderings for the project during the City Commission’s Jan. 21 work session, and it quickly became clear that the city needs to keep talking. The project’s proposed $815,000 price tag and community complaints that the park is being overused by students from the nearby Museum School were among the top concerns. There’s currently no money in the city’s budget for the project, City Manager Clai Brown said.

Giager said the commission should consider it at a future meeting.

“What I would ask is that we study this individually,” Mayor Terry Giager said. “If there’s questionable things as far as price, let’s circle them and at least at our next work session let’s sit down and see what we can get done.”

Cost estimates were not provided with the agenda work packet, but some of the individual line items discussed during the meeting got a rise out of the audience.

Commissioner Lindsay Forlines said the benches cost $2,500 each, and two drinking fountains would cost the city $7,000.

Brown said if commissioners were to approve the project and start the RFP process in September, the project could be completed by April of 2016. It didn’t look like commissioners were in any hurry to get the project done.

The park’s proposed design has been updated since it was last discussed in August. The price has come down from an estimate of $1.1 million. The consultant, jB+a Planning and Landscape Architecture, removed grills and a boccie ball court. There will be no golf cart parking. A proposed entrance design was made less ostentatious.

But the fundamental concerns remain, residents said.

One of the biggest concerns of residents at the meeting is the park’s use by students of the Museum School. One resident said the the Museum School has a green space that is underutilized.

Another resident, Lisa Shortell, asked what the city is going to do to make sure the park is properly maintained. She said she had concerns about a new entrance area on the corner of Dartmouth that includes a seating area outside of the park. She said that is a dangerous place for children to play because of the nearby traffic.

“I would make it, as much as possible, to get people into the park and less possible to have it as a hangout place for everybody after school,” Shortell said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story did not provide the proper context for one of the quotes in this story. This story has been updated to more accurately convey the intent of the person being quoted. 

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • Thank you for bringing that my attention. I regret that due to a prior obligation I had to leave early and was unable to follow up with you afterward. Based on your comment I have updated the story and included a correction note at the bottom to make your intent more clear for our readership.

    • PN

      There is still a mention of complaints by neighbors that the park is being overused by the children of the Museum School. So, is that the case? Please have LS clarify. (she’s the one who’s constantly yelling at these children on a weekly basis btw… for no reason) I feel you should know this Dan. Thanks

      • Yes, that was what I heard at the meeting. Lisa is only speaking for Lisa, but I heard comments to that effect last night and heard comments in previous meetings.

        • PN

          Amazing to me that people can find it within themselves to complain that children are actually using the park and playground. Children who are residents of Avondale Estates. Wow. Too much…

          • LS

            I think there is a misunderstanding about what people were saying in the meeting. I will make a stab at clearing it up. A better way to explain what people are complaining about is that opening a gate between the school and the park has caused an impact on the overall health of the park. No one is against kids/parents from wherever using the park. And most people — myself included — support a way for students to walk and bike to the MS. But long term residents whose homes overlook the park have watched a steady deterioration of the park over the last two and half years since the gate has been opened and they are concerned. That is why the question about maintenance — and this includes picking up trash and clothing items as well as maintaining the field and grounds. With the city discussing how much money to spend toward a much needed renovation, thought must be given as to how that investment will be protected. It is hoped that parts of the renovation will help ease the impact, but even so it seems likely the city will need to budget more for the park in the future because of the increased use.
            There are many issues, layers, and nuances to this discussion that I don’t have time to go into right now, but I want to make it clear that residents are not against parents and children in Willis Park.

          • PN

            Nope. No misunderstanding. I do get it fully.

      • Also, please refrain from making personal attacks. I realize it’s an emotional topic, but be civil.

  • I’m going to post this link, which contains our comments policy:


    If you have questions, please refer to it. If the answers aren’t sufficient, please email me at editor@decturish.com. The long and short of it is that I would like everyone to feel free to express their opinions but encourage them to do so in a way that is civil and does not engage in personal attacks against any individual. We’re all adults, and we can disagree respectfully. Thank you

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