EAST COBB, Ga. — Cobb County officials are planning to build a parking lot and bathrooms just north of the Chattahoochee River along Discovery Boulevard in Mableton. The parking area will provide easier access to a park - which is scheduled to open later this year - in an area that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. But it comes at a price.
Roberta Cook, executive director of the River Line Historic Area, said she’s glad the county has allocated funds to open it as a park, but she’s not happy about the construction.
“They're willing to sacrifice this historic site to put asphalt and sewage on it,” she said. “What Cobb County is going to do is degrade this site by putting the parking on this land."
Cook is hoping to stop the development, in light of the area’s unique history. She pointed out the well-defined trench line that was used in the Civil War.
“This line was about six miles during the war, and what we have left here on this site is 83 acres out of a six-mile Chattahoochee battle line,” she said. “This is the biggest intact section of the battlefield that’s left today.”
According to Cook, that land was saved 30 years ago for preservation.
“A developer had threatened it, and Cobb County commissioners at the time stepped up to save it,” she said. “We are so lucky that they did because everything around it has been destroyed for development - about 700 acres."
Cook said the county went to court to fight over the land and Cobb County won.
"That's why it's here, because it's on the National Register," Cook explained. "The primary purpose for this park is preservation. The register is built on land preservation. So, Cobb County drove away bulldozers 30 years ago, but now they're bringing them back to degrade this site that they protected in the past.”
Cook compared the proposed construction site to a baseball field, saying you would never use part of the outfield to create more parking for baseball games. She said it doesn’t make sense to level out the rough terrain with historical significance.
“For the visitor who comes here to appreciate history, it hurts that visual for them too, because it's in the viewshed of the trenches, the forts, and the rifle pits that are nearby,” she said. “Those people who want to see what the soldiers saw back then - a parking lot doesn't fit into that program. So that really hurts the visitor experience.”
Cook also said it’s not a good place for restrooms, because of issues with sewage overflow.
“A year ago, we had over 100 million gallons, over nine days, flow into the Chattahoochee River in Nickajack Creek from sewage,” she said. “To put restrooms here with a septic field really adds insult to injury to this creek and the river.”
According to Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid, the parking lot and restrooms were approved more than a year ago, following public hearings. Parks Director Jimmy Gisi said construction will begin in April, and the park will open in November. No name has been chosen yet.
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