Every morning around 7:30am, seven men wearing “Piedmont Park Conservancy” imprinted on their chest set out on golf carts, trucks and mowers to tackle the 200 plus acres of beautiful Piedmont Park. With the sun slowly rising, the smell of morning dew and a small collection of people seen jogging through the Park, each man starts the day on his own mission. Some will pick up rakes and blowers. Others will count out screws and wires. A few will check systems and computers, hoping no new surprises popped up overnight.
Amongst trees, flowers and open fields of grass, you will typically find Landscaper John Frazier. Being with the Piedmont Park Conservancy for over 14 years, John says that he loves his job because he can work with his hands and enjoy the outdoors, all while watching the fruits of his labor grow. John is usually paired with contract worker Chris who likes “making the Park look pretty for people to enjoy.”
“The atmosphere is great,” John says. “The people I work with have great attitudes. It’s a great learning process. Making the Park better each year is great.”
Peek between buildings and spot a red golf cart to find Operations Manager Todd Williard. Todd began working at the Conservancy because of his interest in the preservation of Piedmont Park.
“I demonstrate my love for the park by showing up every day,” Todd says. “I enjoy working outside, and I love being involved in the Conservancy.”
Todd, often found wearing his cowboy hat and a button down shirt, is the go-to man for detailed projects, broken machines, and handy work that the average person looks at with a blank stare.
Wind around the corner and find Stanley Lofton, another landscaper with a friendly personality and often a wave. Stanley spends his days blowing an immense amount of leaves, mowing large acres of grass, budding flowers to promote their growth and so much more. Ask Stanley how his day is going, and you are always met with enthusiasm and passion.
“I love the Park people,” Stanley says. Working in Piedmont Park has “a sense of freedom. Piedmont Park has history, you know? I’m from Atlanta, and Piedmont Park is the crown jewel of the city. I’m part of Piedmont Park, and Piedmont Park is part of me.”
Keep walking through the Park, and find a man standing on a ladder tinkering away: Maintenance Engineer Michael Paul. Usually surrounded by an immense amount of tools and measuring tape, Michael performs multiple roles from technical projects to IT functions for the Conservancy. Michael expresses the same passion and dedication in his work as the other team members.
“I support the mission of the Conservancy,” Michael says. “It makes me proud because when people stop, ask me questions and say that they enjoy the Park, I know how much work goes into it. I get the opportunity to interact with the public which opens the door to talk about the Conservancy.”
Michael Paul testing Legacy Fountain under ground
Hop over to the Active Oval to see Landscaper Alan Wise, continuously mowing or raking the fields in systematic lines and patterns to beautifully curate the sport fields. Alan works hard to care for the fields which attract over 68,000 reserved players each year.
Alan loves Piedmont Park “because it’s the heart of the city [and] it connects people with nature.”
Some of Alan’s other duties include checking reservation permits, managing signage, and prepping bases, nets and other recreational items. When he isn’t working on the Oval, Alan aids the other team members to further beautify the Park such as mulching the Dog Parks, supporting volunteers and trash pickup.
Alan Wise raking the fields
Need to take a bathroom break? You might run into Landscaper Lorenzo Marshall. Toting buckets, cleaning supplies and a friendly spirit, Lorenzo is charged with taking care of all of the bathrooms in Piedmont Park. With an increased visitation of Piedmont Park, this job gets harder and harder every day. Yet, Lorenzo always shows up and gets the job done. After cleaning bathrooms, Lorenzo might be found clearing pathways, caring for plants and other landscape projects.
Lastly, you might see Mark Nelson driving by checking on various projects or sitting in a meeting to strategize the next move. Mark, the Director of Operations, impressively manages the team and the countless projects that pop up all over Piedmont Park. He determines which projects are delegated to the Conservancy team or the City of Atlanta. He communicates with the rest of the staff to update them on projects and field incoming questions. Mark also gets his hands dirty, using his horticultural and landscape expertise to complete specialized projects with the Park.
Standing from any Piedmont Park gate looking in, anywhere your eyes can see is likely to be impacted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy operations staff. Whether you love to visit the Dog Parks, play in the playgrounds, shop at the Green Market, attend camp, splash in the Legacy Fountain, or jog around the running track, you can see the efforts of this hardworking team. The Conservancy is lucky to have such a dedicated and self-motivated team that also hold personal passions for the work that they do. The next time you are out in the Park, give a wave hello and strike up a conversation. They’re friendly guys, and are definitely Piedmont Park Proud.