EPA chief tells Georgians that agency’s mission is public health

March 31, 2016 By Andy Miller

The EPA’s administrator told a gathering at Atlanta’s Morehouse School of Medicine on Thursday that she wants her organization viewed “as a public health agency.”

Gina McCarthy emphasized the importance of environmental effects on health at a roundtable discussion at Morehouse, which including medical students, local college professors and community activists.

The activists brought up problems related to the Proctor Creek Watershed, which McCarthy toured Thursday morning. It’s an area west of downtown Atlanta that has experienced poor water quality, pervasive flooding and sewage overflows. It has several so-called brownfields, sites where pollution makes future land use difficult.

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“We’re trying to address the communities that have been left behind … like Proctor Creek, where they are bearing disproportionate burdens,” McCarthy said.

Darryl Haddock of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance told GHN that water quality in the Proctor Creek area has improved but that the runoff from downtown Atlanta is a constant problem, creating mold in homes.

Debra Edelson of the Emerald Corridor Foundation added that while the sewage problem has been decreased significantly, “we’re not where we should be” in terms of preventing water runoff damage.

Read the full story here.

The GSB Interview: Mark Teixeira of the NY Yankees; Helping to Rebuild and Green NW Atlanta

Published by Green Sports Blog in February of 2016

(Excerpt) GSB: Being a New Yorker, I’ve always thought that the Yankees, who play in a glittering palace in one of the poorest Congressional Districts in the US, with the highest asthma rate, have a particular responsibility to help kids in the Bronx and northern Manhattan (Harlem, Washington Heights) to eat healthier food, get to play in good conditions. It’s terrific that you’re helping to make that happen with Harlem RBI. Let’s turn to the Emerald Corridor Foundation. What is it and how did you get involved?

MT: Well, I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta—so did my wife—and then played with the Braves. So I knew Atlanta really well and loved the area. I had gotten involved in a few small environmental greening projects before that. But in ’08 I was approached by some investors in Atlanta who had a BIG idea: To restore a huge swath of Northwest Atlanta…

GSB:…The Emerald Corridor?

MT: Exactly. It basically makes up a big part of Northwest Atlanta and is impoverished, with all of the signs of urban blight…High crime, high unemployment, low hope. But, it happens that this area sits on what once was spectacular green space, with stunning natural beauty—streams, woodlands. So my investors and I decided to, as we call it, “Lead with Green”—to make this a beautiful, natural and healthy place that people want to visit and live in instead of one that people want to avoid.

GSB: That sounds like a Herculean challenge…

MT: In one sense, you’re right—this size of urban redevelopment combined with restoration of natural habits has never been done before. On the other hand, we have a fantastic canvas—the Emerald Corridor will link 400 acres of reclaimed land, parks and green space to revitalized communities…

Read the full interview here.

Build Proctor Creek area from within

An Op-Ed by Debra Edelson

Published by the AJC on December 30, 2015

As Atlanta experiences a wave of redevelopment, our neighborhoods will benefit most when community development happens from the inside out. That means embracing existing organizations, systems and networks. Too often, even well-intentioned efforts displace existing social infrastructure as growth and development comes to economically challenged areas.

As we seek to bring healthy and sustainable revitalization to Proctor Creek and its surrounding neighborhoods in Northwest Atlanta, we are focused on working with those communities — and building resources within them.

Proctor Creek emerges behind Maddox Park near the Bankhead MARTA station — 1 ½ miles from Georgia Tech, 2 ½ miles from Atlanta University Center. It is one of the few areas so close to the center of our city where one can find an affordable home surrounded by remarkable natural beauty. Yet there is currently about 40 percent vacancy among single-family homes in the area. The surrounding neighborhoods lack the parks, trails and other green space that people need for active, safe public spaces. They have experienced rapid depopulation over the past decade and related declines in housing stock, school attendance and diminished access to basic retail, health care, recreation and healthy food choices.

The Emerald Corridor Foundation aims to preserve affordability while attracting needed investment and jobs to the area. We are doing so by leveraging one of the area’s greatest assets: Proctor Creek itself.

This is challenging and complicated work. It requires engaging myriad stakeholders and significant public and private resources. We’re fortunate that we are facing these challenges with the benefit of decades of planning, with input from the community. Today, government, community and philanthropic interests are converging to take action.

And taking action we are.

The Emerald Corridor Foundation is partnering with the city of Atlanta, leveraging federal dollars to match our own investments to create Proctor Park.

This first major project will transform a nine-acre fallow tract with a trail and bridge, recreation areas, four acres of wetland marshes, interpretive viewing areas along a system of boardwalks and a nature center.

We’re also teaming with organizations in the community such as the Greening Youth Foundation to recruit local youth, teach green job skills and employ them in environmental restoration work that will benefit the community, the city and the downstream users of the Chattahoochee River. This type of collaboration and leverage creates opportunity for our neighborhoods in northwest Atlanta.

At the heart of the shared vision for revitalization drawn from decades of community input is the Proctor Creek Greenway, a seven-mile trail that will run the full length of Proctor Creek. It will link the Atlanta BeltLine to the Chatthoochee River and could be extended into Cobb County to link with the Silver Comet Trail. Completion of the system would allow Atlantans to jog, walk or ride their bikes from Stone Mountain to Annis-ton, Alabama.

The Emerald Corridor Foundation is partnering with the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, Groundworks Atlanta, Georgia Power and the city of Atlanta to realize a vision that includes connecting local schools, churches, neighborhoods and parks, while restoring and protecting the natural ecosystem that supports the creek.

The Greenway and park projects will create safe and clean public spaces and community connectivity to MAR-TA, the Atlanta BeltLine and more. We are committed to working with the surrounding communities to design and implement these projects. Our commitment is to connect new investment and projects to existing organizations and institutions that focus on health, education, job creation and community building.

We look forward to catalyzing neighborhood revitalization that will restore quality of life and help the local communities blossom again.

Read the original here

Army Corps To Begin Study On Atlanta's Proctor Creek Cleanup

Published by WABE on November 25, 2015

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed signed a law authorizing an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study on cleaning up the lower basin of Proctor Creek.

The tributary flows through northwest Atlanta into the Chattahoochee River. Mayor Reed says the city plans to invest up to $1.5 million toward the three-year study. The funds will be matched by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I think that not in two years or four years or 10 years, but in 15 or 20 years, folks probably won’t remember it, but what we’re doing in Proctor Creek will be as consequential as what we’re doing on the Atlanta BeltLine," says Reed.

Read the full article here.

Proctor Creek: From polluted waterway to Emerald Corridor

Published in Creative Loafing Atlanta on October 22, 2015

"And adjacent to where Proctor Creek meets Hollowell, inside a former gas station that's been revamped as an office for planners and architects, the nonprofit Emerald Corridor Foundation is piecing together a grand plan that it says will help build on those efforts, add parks and a bike trail linking Atlanta to its waterfront, and spark redevelopment. The foundation's board includes former Atlanta Braves player Mark Teixeira, finance and consulting executives, and a sustainability nonprofit leader.

Known as the Emerald Corridor, the project has been several quiet years in the making. The first phase calls for building a 7-mile creekside trail along the waterway, starting at Maddox Park at Hollowell and snaking its way through northwest Atlanta neighborhoods, until the stream ends at the Chattahoochee. The estimated $20 million project would bring to life approximately 400 acres of greenspace along the path. New parks would be donated to the city once complete. A portion of the land along the creek would create a buffer, helping to protect it from the kind of pollution that has prompted government officials to post signs warning people not to play or fish in the waterway. The trail, which would run approximately 200 feet from — and connect to — the proposed Westside Reservoir Park at Bellwood Quarry, would also touch the Atlanta Beltline, linking nearly 45 neighborhoods to the river via a trail."

Read the full story here.

ECF's First Grant Recipients

The Emerald Corridor Foundation is devoted to improving quality of life for residents in northwest Atlanta, and one of the ways we do so is through our grant program, which supports the civic institutions that form the foundation of a vibrant and healthy community. We specifically seek out organizations focused on education, workforce training and development, environmental restoration and enhancement, recreation, arts and culture, and community development.

We received many applications for the third quarter 2015 application period, and are proud to have awarded grants to:

Chattahoochee Riverkeeper River Rendezvous which will engage the community to help collect water samples throughout the watershed to take a one day “snapshot” of water quality in Proctor Creek.

Paradise Missionary Baptist Church and Grove Park Neighborhood Association –Jubilee Celebration which will celebrate the church being in the community for 50 years.

Emory Urban Health Initiative and Northwest Youth Power – Vine City Teaching Garden, a space that will help increase access to nutritious, diverse foods and educational opportunities for residents of the Proctor Creek area.

Developing Greenspace With Community: Through The Eyes Of Emerald Corridor Foundation's Debra Edelson

Published in S.E. Region News on September 22, 2015

"'Greenspace is a little different.  In almost every other kind of service offered to citizens, at some point, some citizens get preferred over others. But when it comes to greenspace, everybody is welcome.  It doesn't matter if you make alot of money or a little money.  It doesn't matter if you're young or old.  It doesn't matter what your heritage is or your race. No other service is like greenspace.' -- Debra Edelson, Executive Director, Emerald Corridor Foundation

This week the Army Corps of Engineers received its matching funds of $1.5 million dollars from the City of Atlanta to begin hydrology studies of the 300 known tributaries and main spine of Proctor Creek.  Therein lies potential green small businesses, green jobs and job training programs, green health initiatives, green affordable housing, and green food development projects.  The development of greenspace along the banks of Proctor Creek is rich in economic development potential."

To see the full story, click here.