Ella Mae Wade Brayboy Park a/k/a Brayboy Park is located on the East side of Hunter Hills, in the Lionel Hampton Trail segment. The park borders along Burbank Drive NW, Lena Street, and Stafford Street NW. Brayboy Park was opened in April 2019, and it was dedicated by C.M. Michael Julian Bond to Ms. Brayboy, the "Godmother of Voter Registration." Ms. Brayboy lived on Chappell Road NW in Hunter Hills and was one the most engaged community activists in the City of Atlanta. As one of the Georgia's first Black voter registrars in Georgia in the 1960's, she registered over 10, 000 voters between the 60's and 70's. Her activism was wide and lifelong.
The park is a simple, peaceful greenspace with a handful of benches, a fountain and a concrete wall bearing Ms. Brayboy's name. It has a lovely rolling hill, a walkway lined with Crepe Myrtle trees which are stunning during bloom season, and a winding path. The park has been utilized in the past as a turnaround point during 10K marathons, but not much else. In fact, many cyclists riding along the Lionel Hampton Trail pass by without notice.
Sadly, many Hunter Hills residents were also unaware the park existed. In an effort to engage neighbors and utilize the space, HHHNA hosted a Jazz on the Trail event in April 2023 to honor jazz legend Lionel Hampton. The event included a Plant Swap, a Container Garden Workshop, and Italian Ices with the tunes of Lionel Hampton in the background.
July 2023, Park Pride put out a call to neighborhoods who would like help redesigning their community parks to be a Park for All. Hunter Hills answered.
What does Parks for All mean?
Parks are not just for children. Parks for All includes places of enjoyment (or serenity) for adults, accessibility for people of all physical capabilities, and sensory stimulation for all people whether through sight, sound, or touch. Hunter Hills, along with 5 other neighborhoods, was awarded a FREE park design with a licensed landscape architect.
Friends of Brayboy Park was paired with Ms. Rishika Chaudhury of Perkins&Will design firm. A neighborhood call was put out to form a Brayboy Park Planning Committee. Together we met with Rishika, attended the 2023 Roundtable, Inclusive Play Spaces featuring Meghan Talarowski, brainstormed ideas, and held a final Park Planning workshop in October at Brayboy Park.
We knew we wanted to include play spaces, incorporate music as an ode to Lionel Hampton, honor the history of Hunter Hills, and make it an inviting, colorful place to stop for rest, play or to congregate. But we did have obstacles. The MARTA tunnel runs below the park which prohibits any large, weighty structures or trees from being installed above the tunnel. The final park design was completed and incorporates several sensory interactive areas at the ridge of the park, a zig zag path through the center of the park to easily traverse the hill, gardens, various seating/climbing structures, a potential dog park across from the park on Burbank, and easier access from the curbs to the park.
This Final Concept design can be used as a basis to begin phased improvements to Brayboy Park, eventually connect to the MARTA greenspace at Bernard/Chatham, and as a base to build upon FOR ALL to enjoy.