Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Notes from Friends of Medlock Park meeting

notes prepared by Casey Bodreau and Lisa Crowder

Friends of Medlock Park
Notes from January Meeting
Saturday, January 9, 2016 - 9:00a

Chris Foster (DHYS President), Tex Blair (DHYS Operations), Casey Boudreau (MANA), Kaye Smith (Medlock Community Garden), Lisa Crowder, Jenna Zargon, Diana Flowers

1.         DHYS - DHYS is the "Friends of Medlock Park" group of record with DeKalb county's Department of Parks and Recreation.  Currently, DeKalb County Parks & Rec maintains very little of the park (primarily the grass outside the park and the pool) while DHYS (which is a volunteer-run organization) maintains the ball fields and related structures (batting cages, storage buildings, clubhouse), and most of the grass inside the park.

a.         DHYS role is to manage Medlock Park baseball/sports program
b.         Friends of Medlock Park should focus on all other common spaces in the park (except for pool)

2.         Recent park land survey

a.         DHYS commissioned the survey to mark park boundaries & update maps to guide plans for future improvements

3.         DHYS is starting capital campaign to raise money for:

a.         Re-paving and re-striping existing parking areas to allow for maximum capacity usage within these existing parking areas (N=75-80).  Because the park is in a floodplain, there are many requirements regarding surfacing.  Parking is a perennial issue for DHYS and the neighborhood.

i.          Discussed ideas for paving options
ii.          Not currently planning to address issues of water run off (to improve drainage)

b.         Reinforcing pathways to fields 2 & 3 to allow for greater accessibility (many grandparents, etc. come to see games and have difficulty accessing these fields)

i.          Discussed substrate options
ii.          Also looking to improve drainage on old stream bed near playground

c.         Improve the playground - the playground is used by both DHYS and the neighborhood and is an obvious focus for improvement

d.         Lisa asked if "Friends" could have separate fundraising campaign from "DHYS" with separate account to raise $ for non-baseball improvements, such as the playground

i.          Chris Foster will investigate

4.         Lisa Crowder reviewed results from her online survey (  The purpose of the survey is to determine who is using the park, how they are using it, whether they are satisfied with the park as it is and if not how they would like to change it, and whether they are willing to help in the process of improving the park.

a.         140+ responses so far

i.          Results available online at:

(a)        94 female respondents - 48 male respondents
(b)        Approximately half of respondents are DHYS participants
(c)        Most respondents aged 30-49
(d)        Many respondents willing to volunteer (largest number willing to volunteer for creek clean-up but significant number also willing to volunteer for park maintenance, playground committee, building committee and more
(e)        3/4s of respondents willing to make donation to park improvements
(f)         Majority of park respondents live in Medlock or in 30033
(g)        Approximately 1/3 of respondents use the park more than once a week
(h)        Single biggest amenity used by respondents is The PATH (85%); 59% playground; 52% greenspace; 42% baseball fields; 40% creek
(i)         Of respondents who report they use the creek, nearly 80% say they would participate in a creek clean-up
(j)         Many respondents left comments of ideas for improving the park

b.         Friends of Medlock Park Facebook group has been created as a way to better communicate with the community, and currently has 40 members (it is a "Closed" group that people may join at:

5.         Casey reviewed status of Scott lots masterplan - (The Scott lots are sites of former homes along Scott Circle that were bought out by the county using FEMA money because of persistent flooding.  The lots were adjacent to Medlock Park and are now under the control of DeKalb Parks & Recreation.)

a.         Met with County Commissioner Jeff Rader on 11/23 – he is supportive of neighborhood effort to improve Scott lots (further details from this meeting previously shared)
b.         Master plan was submitted to and accepted by Parks Dept
c.         Next steps

i.          apply for grants & otherwise raise money
ii.         recruit help to implement, in phases

6.         Tex asked about plan for South Peachtree Creek PATH to connect to Druid Hills Middle School – no one else was aware

7.         Should DHYS and Friends group be separate entities?

a.         Chris not sure DHYS wants to do this, thinks better to work together
b.         Some think could improve relations between neighborhood & DHYS
c.         Group agreed best to continue to have stand-alone Friends meetings (like this meeting) rather than having the Friends meeting be part of a DHYS board meeting (as has been the case in recent history)

i.          Need to harness the energy of both communities
ii.          DHYS happy to help with fundraising (DHYS is 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization) & willing to match funds for non-baseball improvements
iii.         Try to get Parks & Rec official (Paige Singer ?) to attend future FOMP meeting for better sense of what county can/will do for park

8.         What are the priorities as far as non-baseball activities?

a.         Playground

i.          Fix surface
ii.          Add shade
iii.         Upgrade structures

(a)        Action Points
•           Identify landscape architect/designer/playground designer to help figure out what can do
•           Set up working group to provide input (Lisa will coordinate)
•           Identify and review grant opportunities
b.         Scott lots

i.          Organize cleanup of current space (debris; undesirable plantings; etc.) – tentatively in Mar 2016 (prior to significant Spring growing season)
ii.          Action point:  Casey to contact Dave Butler for assistance
iii.         Identify and review grant opportunities

c.         Creek

i.          Based on survey responses, many people use the creek and would like to see it cleaned up and better maintained
ii.          Lots of mud & sand get washed out during rain, hard to clean up (may be coming from Horse Park) - Tex to contact Paige at Parks & Rec
iii.         Ideas to pursue further

(a)        Better maintain creekside trail
•           Maybe enhance surfacing along the creek to make it less treacherous? Cannot interfere with flood drainage.
•           Action point:  Lisa to contact South Fork Conservancy & Keep DeKalb Beautiful for help
•           Action point:  Identify landscape architect with appropriate expertise who can assist with project
•           Action point: Organize cleanup (potentially piggyback with Scott lots clean-up in March 2016)
(b)        More plantings (trees help soak up water)

9.         Next meeting:  Sat 2/13 at 9a in park clubhouse meeting room

Consensus was that we need greater participation from the community.  DHYS is a volunteer organization that has a lot on its plate with running the sports program and keeping the baseball parts of the park in shape.  If neighbors want park improvements they need to get involved both in the organizational efforts and by contributing time, skills and money.  Parks & Rec has no money for improvements and relies on DHYS for almost all maintenance to the park.  DHYS will try to match neighborhood donations.  We need to find outside funding sources, and we need more people to participate in planning.

Additional issues discussed:

1.         Lights are sometimes not turned off when fields are vacated, Tex to remind users to not leave lights on all night as are on 12 hour timer & costs $65/hour to run

2.         MANA to send info out by email to increase reach of information