Although we had to cancel our planned group activities after the Covid-19 pandemic began, we have continued to actively engage the community in park plans and developments. Friends of Hairston Park sends out email and text updates. The Greater Hidden Hills Community Development Corporation, which includes Hairston Park in the communities it represents, has sent out three park updates to 1100 subscribers this year. Antioch AME Church, which is just north of the park, remains a committed partner and shares all park updates with its members.
The Friends group continues to stay in touch with the Parks Department about the upcoming installation of the pavilion, the extension of the sidewalk, and the buffer between the parking lot and the park. This portion is receiving funds from DeKalb County Commission Districts 4 and 7. Prior to ordering the new pavilion, the DeKalb Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Affairs asked for our input on the color of the planned pavilion. Friends of Hairston Park surveyed members and took comments on the color choices. Friends provided the selection to the Parks Department.
This year, the Friends group met with the Foresite Group, the firm selected to provide construction plans for the pavilion, provided corrections to the initial two design plans so that the project would resemble the initial vision, and reviewed the final schematic prepared by Foresite. The Friends group has also met in person and virtually with the DeKalb Parks construction project manager assigned to Hairston Park.
We are also keeping tabs on the development of the new 24,000 square-foot community & senior center to be built on the north end of the park near Elam Road. The Community Development Department says construction bids have gone out and will be received by October 30. The hope is to break ground by the end of the year. The Community Development Director Allen Mitchell says he is committed to working with the Parks Department to include a hardscape path from the Center to the built environment in Hairston Park (most recently at a public meeting held Oct. 22). If all goes well, that path will connect with the Serenity Garden path.
In addition, several individual Friends of Hairston Park volunteer at the park two to three times a week and pick up trash. One friend lives near the park and frequently reports on any suspicious activities in the park or items that require maintenance.
While we must continue to maintain our social distance, we plan to take advantage of the increased popularity of Hairston Park. It has many more users these days. From fall through early summer, we intend to:
- update the sign in the park and ask for more members
- record interviews with people who have long memories of the park and post them on our webpage and social media
- create an opportunity to sponsor the educational signs, meditation signs and a kiosk (a fundraising initiative)
- publicize the next phase of improvements
- plan the volunteer day for tilling and planting the Serenity Gardens.