Restoring, Reinventing Tattnall Square Park
A community revitalizes a neglected park and creates a public space for people of all ages
Tattnall Square Park, Macon-Bibb, Georgia, United States
Tattnall Square Park is a 16-acre public park in downtown Macon, Georgia. Established in the mid-19th century, both Macon and Tattnall Square Park fell into decline during the 1970s and 1980s.
In 2011, the grassroots non-profit community organization Friends of Tattnall Square Park began thinking about ways to improve the park and, more specifically, how to create an engaging landscape that would be safe and welcoming for all users. The revitalized park now serves as a beautiful public place that’s visited and enjoyed by people of all ages.
In 2012 the Friends of Tattnall Square Park received a Knight Neighborhood Challenge Grant, which enabled the purchase of 200 new trees. At the same time, residents of the City of Macon and the County of Bibb voted to consolidate their governments in order to both save money and avoid a replication of services. The new community, called Macon-Bibb, enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.
As part of that effort, AARP Georgia and the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute assessed the walkability, livability and age-friendly features of the community surrounding the park.
The resulting report helped engage key players (including the local government) and provided recommendations for how to improve the park and the roads adjacent to it.
Among the enhancements thus far:
- The addition of prominent, ADA compliant gateways help to define the park’s boundaries and entrances.
- Wider, smoother sidewalks were installed to better serve older pedestrians and people pushing strollers.
- The park has new benches, seating areas (many made of stone) and a drinking fountain.
- The park’s interior is now vehicle-free and accessible routes into the park have been added.
- Construction of a modern roundabout has helped make nearby streets safer by slowing fast-moving traffic around the park.
Other efforts involve replacing or upgrading the park’s lighting, re-installing a park fountain (the 1915 original was removed in the late 1960s), converting surfaces from asphalt to greenery and building spaces for outdoor gathering, ceremonies and performances.
In addition to inspiring thousands of hours of volunteer labor, about $2.5 million has been spent on the park so far (from 2012 to 2015). Most of the funds have come from community grants and donations.
Tattnall Square Park is an example of how to make a park come alive for an entire city in just three years. Hundreds of supporters and partners helped to make the park a beautiful and age- and culturally-diverse public space and display of community pride.
In 2014 the City Parks Alliance recognized Tattnall Square as a Frontline Park, a designation that promotes "inspiring examples of urban park experience, innovation and stewardship." Several annual events — including children's programs and the Sidewalk Chalk Festival — attract visitors to the park.
As Andrew Silver, chair of Friends of Tattnall Square Park, explains: “People of all ages can enjoy nature, without being a consumer, without purchasing anything. It’s free. Up to 1,000 people visit the park every week to enjoy the open space and trees.”
- Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, Age-Friendly Community Action Plan
- 5 Questions for Robert Reichert, Mayor, Macon-Bibb, Georgia
- Enjoygram: Friends of Tattnall Square Park
- Facebook: Friends of Tattnall Square Park
- The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities
- AARP Livability Index: Macon-Bibb, Georgia
- AARP Georgia
Published August 2015
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