Friends of Tattnall Square Park has been working for over two years to restore the historic park that is just across the road from Mercer University’s Macon campus. Though treasurer Jennifer Look says that their work is always ongoing, for the first time in almost a hundred years, the park’s infrastructure has been completely renovated.
“It started over trash,” said Chair Andrew Silver about the origins of Friends of Tattnall. Silver is also a professor at Mercer.
When complaints were voiced about a lack of maintenance in the park, Friends co-founders Corrie Merricks and Jill Moody Vanderhoek, along with Silver, stepped up to make some changes. Since the group’s birth in 2001, the Friends have planted 215 new trees, installed trashcans with quotes and added time capsules into the pillars at the historic entrance to the park.
A TARDIS-shaped Little Library will also be featured at Tattnall, though it is separate from the Friends group. The Little Library is one of Look’s personal projects, she said, and the first unveiling will be on April 17 at the dog park. “It’s about getting people to share stories and build community. If you have a book you love, and you want to share it with your neighbor, come put it in the library,” said Look. The TARDIS-shaped library is one of the many that will be built.
The libraries will provide book plates that allow donors to explain why they think that the book should be read by people in the community. The TARDIS inspiration came from the carpenter of the libraries, who is going to install 18 bookshelves.
The quote-covered trashcans is another project that Friends of Tattnall recently completed, which involved not only students from Alexander II, who wrote essays about why they loved nature, but also Mercer students. A class taught by Dr. Craig Coleman was responsible for framing the quotes, and the trashcans have gained the attention of not only the city of Macon, but also Atlanta, which is now putting up similar works in its city.
In regards to current projects, Look said that a new water fountain is on its way, courtesy of the Medical Center of Central Georgia. The Friends group hope that the installation will increase the number of people exercising in the park.
Other improvements include boulder benches, as well as benches that are rooted into the ground and a stump circle that provides seating where there was none before. The pavillion was also a project that the group took on, repainting the structure with four different colors and putting in 1,000 volunteer hours before it was completed.
“We’ve raised tens of thousands [of dollars] with private donations, but we’ve attracted hundreds of thousands of grant money through the Knight Foundation,” said Silver. “They really acted as a catalyst to our organization. … About $2.3 million either has been or will be put into this park within the next few months.” Silver said that Friends of Tattnall Square Park has accomplished a lot more than other Friends Of organizations would have accomplished in 10 or more years time.
Mercer itself has contributed some to the projects. The student-led Friends of Tattnall Square Park, led by president Sarah Reid, has hosted events such as poetry readings and frisbee tournaments, as well as occasionally working in conjunction with the neighborhood Friends group.
As part of their senior design project, a group of student engineers is working to improve the drainage in Tattnall by installing a rain garden. Mercer has also helped with the recently implemented irrigation system, which may not be needed untill next year, says Silver, due to all the rain this year.
“There’s a good possibility that in the next two years, it will feel like a totally different park,” said Silver. “Our number one concern is that we would like to see Macon look to their parks and celebrate them and understand how important they are economically. We brag on our parks, but we don’t do much to help.”