Morningside Nature Preserve

Chronology of the history of Morningside Nature Preserve

Morningside Nature Preserve:  An Opportunity for Atlanta

  • The Morningside Nature Preserve is 33.1 acres of woods in northeast Atlanta that is bisected by the S. Fork Peachtree Creek.
  • Originally known as the Wildwood Urban Forest, the area was bought by a local developer who proposed a residential development project.
  • The Wildwood Urban Forest Committee, a dedicated group of volunteers and neighbors who organized in 1999, worked to stop the project. Rochelle Routman and Susan Robinson were key organizers for this group.
  • Thanks to the hard work of the neighborhood, and support from the City of Atlanta, the Wildwood Urban Forest was saved from development.
  • The funding to purchase the property included donations by citizens, private foundations, and city and state greenspace funds.
  • The community raised $150,000 from approximately 600 households.
  • Cathy Woolard, City Council President, and the City Council, agreed that $1,336,125 of city park impact funds, could be tapped to help buy Wildwood.
  • The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, in a key show of early support for open space in Atlanta, contributed $150,000 to the purchase of Wildwood.
  • The Georgia Greenspace Fund added $300,000.
  • The Nature Conservancy (Stacy Patton) successfully negotiated with the developer to purchase the land thereby removing the potential for single-family housing in the wetlands and forest of the Nature Preserve.
  • On January 31, 2001, the City of Atlanta’s Finance/Executive Committee unanimously approved an agreement to purchase the land from the Nature Conservancy and $1,336,125 of city park impact funds be used for the purchase.
  • The vision of the community includes the protection of a section of the South Fork Peachtree Creek riparian corridor critical to the water quality of the Chattahoochee River, maintenance of wildlife habitat, provision of environmental education to children and adults, and access to recreation, nature trails and open space.
  • The Steering Committee of Morningside Nature Preserve consists of both neighborhood residents living adjacent to the Nature Preserve and others who are interested in the project.
  • The Wildwood Urban Forest was renamed The Morningside Nature Preserve in February 2006 to comply with legal agreements of the sale of the property.
  • Currently there are about 2 miles of trails on both sides of the South Fork Peachtree Creek. The MNP has 2 trailheads:  one at Wellbourne Road and the other at the Georgia Power Substation on Lenox Road.
  • The trailhead and trail on Lenox Road were made possible by the efforts of the neighborhood, City of Atlanta, and Georgia Power to reach a mutually agreeable compromise to mitigate the impacts the new substation would have on the neighborhood.
  • Georgia Power agreed to work with the MNP Steering Committee, the City, and the neighborhood to provide access to the MNP.
  • The Morningside Place Homeowners Association became another key partner when it agreed to negotiate an easement across the Association’s property, thus making it feasible to develop a trail from the substation to the MNP.
  • The City of Atlanta agreed to be the owner of the trailhead and trail easement and to include it in the Morningside Nature Preserve.
  • Starting in February 2006 and ending with the Grand Opening of the Lenox Road Trailhead on December 14, 2009, the community celebrated the success of this Georgia Power, City of Atlanta, and neighborhood project.
  • Suspension Bridge over South Fork of Peachtree Creek connecting the trails on both sides of the creek:
    • Completed October 2010.  PATH Foundation funds and City of Atlanta Parks Dept. money from Quality of Life funds.  Commissioner Dianne Harnell Cohen and the Parks Dept. made this possible along with the PATH Foundation that managed the project and added additional funding.
  • The Master Plan for the Nature Preserve was approved by the City: November 8, 2006.
  • Implementation of the Master Plan by City of Atlanta and the MNP Steering Committee:
    • Key City Parks Dept Staff: Sushma Dersch, Head of Park Design, Paul Taylor who took over Park Design after Sushma retired.  Commissioner of Parks, Dianne Harnell Cohen.  Staff landscape architect Pat Katz.
    • Atlanta Development Authority: Ellen Wickersham, Parks & Greenspace Coordinator.
    • Department of Watershed Management: Susan Rutherford.
    • City Council, District 6: Anne Fauver
    • MNP Steering Committee: Pete Cornish, Sherry Wheat, Rochelle Routman, Stephen Lynn Hennelly, Leslie Edwards, Clayton Dunn, Mary Chapman, Tom Tomaka, Charlotte Gillis, Walter Bland, John Finck, Wriston Jones, Abby Goldsmith.
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