Minutes of Neighborhood-Wide Meeting of 03/10/11

Parkwood Garden Club Neighborhood-Wide Meeting
hosted by the Parkwood Park Committee (PPC)
March 10, 2011
(2nd Neighborhood-Wide Meeting of the 2010-2011 Season)

Officers in Attendance:
Sheri Kennedy, Vice President, PPC Chair, and Presenter
Mary K Jarboe, Secretary
Bolot and Rebecca Kerimbaev, Communications Chairs
Frances Galifianakis, Neighbor Care Chair
Bryan Bell, Civic Co-Chair

Sheri Kennedy, Vice President of the Parkwood Garden Club and Chair of the PGC Parkwood Park Committee (PPC) ran the meeting. Approximately forty Garden Club members were in attendance, which was a good turnout. Sheri shared a Keynote presentation which covered the topics to be discussed at the meeting:

  • Parkwood Park Work Days
  • November 4 Meeting Review
    – Action Items
    – Enhancement Suggestions
  • Next Steps

To view Sheri’s March 10, 2011 Keynote presentation as a PDF (slides with notes), click here: http://goo.gl/Tv2TF (11.9 MB). To view Sheri’s Nov. 4, 2010 Keynote presentation as a PDF, click here: http://goo.gl/6B0DH (19.6 MB). Note: Although the first slide of the March 10 PDF reads March 10, 2010, it is indeed 2011.

To download Sheri’s March 10, 2011 presentation as a Powerpoint file, click here: March 10, 2011 Powerpoint File (12 MB). To download Sheri’s Nov. 4, 2010 presentation as a Powerpoint file, click here: Nov 4, 2010 Powerpoint File (16.4 MB).  Note: Although the first slide of the March 10 Powerpoint file reads March 10, 2010, it is indeed 2011.

To watch and listen online to the video of the first 40 minutes of Sheri’s talk on March 10, 2011, click here: http://vimeo.com/21418758. To watch and listen online to the video of Sheri’s talk on Nov 4, 2010, click here: http://vimeo.com/16970929.

Two guest speakers from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) came to the meeting at our request to share how they might be able to help us with the Park. One guest speaker from the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management came at our request to speak about the environmental impacts of the improper disposal of pet waste and yard debris. Finally, a long-time PGC resident and architect spoke about his ability and desire to assist in creating a long term design for the Park.  Their contributions to the meeting are summarized below.

Susan Granbery:  Georgia Forestry Commission, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator, 678-476-6227, sgranbery@gfc.state.ga.us.
Ms. Granbery emphasized that her and Joe Burgess’ focus is to work in the communities for the protection and maintenance of forests and green spaces with numerous trees. They teach in the communities that trees provide air and water quality as well as shade and as a part of nature, they provide a calming influence to mankind. For example, studies have revealed that children to better in schools and the sick and elderly sometimes heal faster where they have trees outside the building instead of a brick wall. These same studies have shown that there is less crime and violence in areas with green spaces with trees, flowers, and such. These areas often give neighbors an opportunity to meet and get to know each other, which can also reduce neighborhood crime.

Susan also mentioned that the GFC has “matching” grants that communities can apply for to help with the necessary funding for the Park’s future improvements. The matching grants may include using volunteer hours at the rate of $18/hour. The deadline for the grant applications is May 6, 2011.

Joe Burgess:  Georgia Forestry Commission, Community Forestry Sr., 770-528-3195 (Marietta), jburgess@gfc.state.ga.us.
What is an invasive species? Any plant that’s aggressive enough to crowd out the native species in an environment. For example, kudzu, English ivy, privet, Chinese wisteria, leatherleaf mahonia, etc. The list goes on and on. In addition to literally taking over trees and shrubs, and all kinds of native species (imagine the visual image of kudzu throughout the South alongside many highways), these invasive plants also change the habitat underground, so the impact to the overall environment can be devastating to wildlife and aquatic life, as well as polluting the nearby streams and rivers. And, interestingly, invasive species do not behave in the same manner in their own natural habitats. They “act” quite normally as the native species do in any of their own environs. Trees make water quality better.

Where do these invasive species come from? In Georgia, many come from the port of Savannah; many insects can make their way from containers to the surrounding land areas. Insects bore into the wooden pallets. They are often found in firewood. There is accidental spreading through the underside of vehicles and foot traffic. Various species of trees, shrubs, and flowers from foreign lands (many from Asia) are shipped to the US for landscaping. Many are beautiful and are used in large landscaped grounds as well as small and sizable gardens; however, the owners usually know that these plants must be pruned in order to maintain their pretty shape. In the green spaces in cities, it’s usually left to either volunteers or costly contracts with landscape companies to maintain the areas and keep the invasives pruned to an appropriate size or removed. Joe Burgess went on to say that the removal process of invasive plants is a five-year process. Even once it is decided to remove them the first time, they will keep coming back and will have to continue to be cleared out by either volunteers or a landscape company.

Mr. Burgess also mentioned that before we go to the trouble and investment of obtaining a plant inventory, we should have a grand plan for how the community (PGC members) wants to see and use the Park. We need to know what is needed to make the Park “sustainable.” What does sustainable actually mean? It will mean choosing native plants to grow in the Park that will require very little maintenance…the native plants generally take care of themselves. What trees do we want — oak, ash, maple? What native species aren’t here that should be? Some of these decisions may be able to be made without a plant inventory if enough of the existing native plants are identifiable, once the invasives are removed. If not, then a plant inventory can certainly be helpful. What wildlife would we like to see — raccoons, opossums, birds, butterflies? What others? Joe recommended that the PGC members come to a “meeting of the minds” and together determine what we want the Park to be and what we want it to look like before we go much farther and before we spend any significant amount of money. A plan should be developed.

A couple of Club members asked if they could walk with Mr. Burgess as he performs the plant inventory to determine which plants are native and which are invasive so they could learn for their own properties. Mr. Burgess recommended we do what they do in Marietta:  a “Sip ‘n’ Stroll!” Several people walk together with him as he does the identification and someone at the back of the group pulls a wagon load of beverages behind the group. Sounded like a good idea for all who wanted to learn more as well as a fun activity to do with our neighbors!

Michael O’Shield: Environmental Education Specialist, DeKalb County, Department of Watershed Management, 770-724-1456,msoshield@dekalbcountyga.gov.
Mr. O’Shield discussed the harm that both yard debris and pet waste cause to the quality of water in the creek and the water that goes into the storm drain, which goes directly into the rivers and streams. The yard debris goes through a chemical breakdown process that changes the pH of the soil, promotes algae growth, introduces various types of bacteria, and depletes oxygen from the water. In pet waste, more than 80 pathogens are found in only one scoop of dog poop. The resulting fecal coliforms and other bacteria which get into the water cause both humans and pets to become ill. Observe the life in the creek and you can tell a lot about the health of the water and the habitat.

Mr. O’Shield also spoke about the Adopt-A-Stream program, which is a monitoring program for creeks and streams, checking the water for pH, fecal coliforms, dissolved oxygen, suspended solids, aquatic life, etc., in an effort to maintain the physical and biological health of the streams. Another program is called Rivers Alive, whose purpose is to keep trash and litter out of the water.

Joe Dicks: Architect, Resident of Parkwood neighborhood for 23 years, 404-371-0878, jdicks@att.net.
Joe introduced a sketch of what the Park might look like once it’s cleared of all in the invasive plants, the native plants have grown, others have been added, and a path is made from gravel and wood chips alongside the creek. His sketch also showed where there may be stone and wooden bridges and steps where the path might end up at the top of the street at a couple of points at the north end of the Park. He also mentioned erecting two large granite stone signs on either side of the creek that would identify the Park as Parkwood Park. Benches could be added at points along the path. Joe also suggested that the chain link fence be taken down and replaced with a black wooden picket fence. This perimeter or north end West Ponce de Leon treatment would have to be approved by the Druid Hills Civic Association’s Historic and Preservation Society before being built. Joe did not think that this group would have to approve what is done (cleared out, designed, planted and maintained) in the interior of the Park. In order to proceed Mr. Dicks said he would have to have a current topographical and boundary survey. In addition, a tree survey is needed for the new Park renovation plan. The two quotes Mr. Dicks received were:

Company “A” — Topographical and Boundary Survey: $5000
Company “A” — Tree Survey $2000
Company “B” — Topographical, Boundary, & Tree Survey $5999

Following a few more questions and answers and some discussion, the group decided that the neighborhood would set some priorities for the renovation plan for the Park before beginning to work on paths, bridges, etc. The group also made the decision to meet during the summer this year rather than waiting for summer to end, as has been the tradition in the past. The next neighborhood meeting and Parkwood Committee Update will be in September. A notice will be sent out in the summer as to the actual date.

Meeting adjourned.

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