We have the Downtown Master Plan coming up. Exciting. One minor issue that I have heard rumblings about it the ‘lack of greenspace’ Downtown. Let’s talk about this minor issue for a minute. First, a map.
First off, could we all remember just how tiny Athens’ Downtown is? North-South, it’s a quarter-mile. And East-West it’s a half-mile. That’s the size of Times Square. Or the River district of Savannah’s downtown. Greenspace is wonderful – I’m all about a walkable city, but we do need places to walk to more than anything. In fact, a recent study by Urban Studies showed that commercial density is the most important factor in making a city walkable. We have a tiny Downtown. Our city forefathers did not foresee Athens becoming a city in its own right from UGA, so we don’t have a Central Park – but we do get to have something unique – parks around a very dense Downtown.
Quick historical trivia, Athens did have a huge urban park at one time, in the area by Tanyard Creek by Dearing/Finley/Broad area. That was where the first State Botanical Gardens were in the 1830s and 1840s – right outside of our Downtown. It was said to be a gorgeous place. However, the Trustees in an amazing trade of the long-term for short-term, sold the land in order to pay for a fence around North Campus to keep livestock out. Not all was lost, because in addition to the fence, we got The Arch. But still.
Anyway, so we don’t have much greenspace downtown. How about this. That block between Lumpkin/Hancock/College/Washington that is fully owned by the city, why not renovating it to include a bit of nice landscaping. The plan is on the docks, so I marked it on my map. Other items include the greenspace that might come from the River District or by making College Square a park with more landscaping. So on and so forth. Small changes to what we have – nothing major, even it is something like a park.