Neighborhoods - Bellwood Quarry

Five Public Projects that could fundamentally change Atlanta neighborhoods.

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Photo credit: Joeff Davis
QUARRY QUANDARY: Plans for Westside Reservoir Park would make it Atlanta's largest greenspace. Some residents living near the park worry about potential displacement.

The city has an ambitious vision for Bellwood Quarry. Plans call for the 350-acre former mining site to become Westside Reservoir Park. It would be the city’s largest greenspace at almost double the size of Piedmont Park. In addition to a 45-acre reservoir, the park, which would be adjacent to the Beltline and Proctor Creek, would include recreation facilities, possibly a new civic center, and a stunning skyline view.

But it’s unclear when, or if, those plans will ever be realized. Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond are slowly pushing the proposal through City Hall. $40 million was already spent to buy the land. It could cost up to an additional $270 million, some of which will be paid for by the city’s watershed management department, to create the park.

Rashaun Holliman, who chairs Neighborhood Planning Unit-K, which borders the park’s eastern edge, sees the quarry’s redevelopment as a huge opportunity for the surrounding neighborhoods. It would further the progress made by the MLK Jr. Drive and Westside Trail plans. He has little, if any, major concerns about the unprecedented investment in a side of town lacking such interest.

“To have the city’s largest park would be amazing,” Holliman says. “You see the changes in West Midtown. To have that not too far, it would mean there would be developments between the two areas. It’s going to be a draw for this side of town.”

But vision doesn’t always translate into reality. Chasity Fortenberry, who’s lived in West Highlands for the past two years, can see the future entrance of the park from her house. Though she acknowledges the greenspace’s potential, she says she doesn’t think park officials have residents’ best interests at heart. For proof of that, she points to trash illegally dumped on the property, minimal quarry security, and the lack of upkeep for the area. City officials aren’t thinking about the present, she says.

“Coming to Westside Reservoir Park, you’re going through the worst parts of the city,” she says. “People who’ve lived here for 40 years can’t get sidewalks fixed. In 10 years, when the park is here, they’ll be priced out.”

Westside Reservoir Park won’t be open anytime soon to the public. It could take at least 15 years to complete the project. As the park moves forward, it will bring about the excitement that comes with progress. The concerns will linger too.