Fundraiser sights set on $4M to develop Mabry Park
by Jon Gillooly
November 01, 2012 12:56 AM | 3777 views | 3 3 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, right, and Friends of Mabry Park President Lee Berg are hoping a Nov. 10 fundraiser will go a long way toward raising $4 million to develop the panoramic 26 acres into a park.<br>Staff/Emily Barnes
Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, right, and Friends of Mabry Park President Lee Berg are hoping a Nov. 10 fundraiser will go a long way toward raising $4 million to develop the panoramic 26 acres into a park.
Staff/Emily Barnes
slideshow
‘That’s why we’re having the preview day on Nov. 10, to get the public engaged to see how 
beautiful this green space is and try to get the 
surrounding neighbors involved in the project.’ — Commissioner JoAnn Birrell<br>Staff/Emily Barnes
‘That’s why we’re having the preview day on Nov. 10, to get the public engaged to see how beautiful this green space is and try to get the surrounding neighbors involved in the project.’ — Commissioner JoAnn Birrell
Staff/Emily Barnes
slideshow
NORTHEAST COBB — Commissioner JoAnn Birrell is looking for $4 million to develop the 26 acres of undeveloped rolling pasture and woodlands known as Mabry Park.

To that end, Birrell and the group of volunteers who formed the nonprofit Friends of Mabry Park have scheduled Nov. 10 as a day to promote the park, which is located near the corner of Sandy Plains and Wesley Chapel roads in northeast Cobb.

The county purchased the 26.5-acre site from Ed and Sue Mabry Harris in 2008 for $4.3 million after voters approved a $40 million bond in 2006 to purchase green space for parks.

Friends of Mabry Park, which formed in 2009, hired the engineering firm URS to develop a master plan for the park, which the Board of Commissioners adopted last May, Birrell said.

“We’re looking at an estimate of about $4 million to $4.5 million to build it out,” she said. “We’re looking for sponsors, contractors to help us build the road. That’s why we’re having the preview day on Nov. 10, to get the public engaged to see how beautiful this green space is and try to get the surrounding neighbors involved in the project.”

The property is set off from Wesley Chapel Road by two other lots, and while the county has an easement for access, it needs to build a road to the park at an estimated cost of $750,000, Birrell said.

The access road is no small challenge, Friends of Mabry Park president Lee Berg said.

“That road happens to be an easement that is the property boundary between two siblings of a Cobb County farmer from many years ago,” Berg said. “He divided his land into three equal pieces for his offspring, and Sue Mabry Harris sold her piece, which was in the back, to the county, and that came with an easement which is the boundary between the two other properties.”

Birrell said the county has first right of refusal on the purchase of the other two tracts if those families ever decide to sell. The three tracts total 75 acres.

Amenities in the master plan include a playground, walking trails, a community garden, pavilions, tree houses, a pond with an overlook bridge, a boardwalk across a wetlands area and plenty of open meadows.

Birrell said a line item for building the park was included in an early draft of the 2011 county special purpose local option sales tax, but it was eliminated before going to voters.

“It was removed because we weren’t doing any new projects, we were only doing maintenance,” she said.

Berg pointed out the parks bond money was strictly earmarked for buying green space.

“A lot of people don’t seem to understand that,” he said. “They think ‘why didn’t they spend enough money to build the park?’ The bottom line is that because the way that referendum was written, it was strictly for the acquisition of the real estate itself.”

The northeast portion of the county is built out, Birrell said.

“There isn’t a lot of green space, and there’s no passive park of this size and magnitude in that area at all,” she said. “Right now people from the northeast Cobb quadrant where Mabry Park is drive down to East Cobb Park or over to Roswell.”

Attendees of the park preview may park at Wesley Chapel UMC, located at 4495 Sandy Plains Road, and take a shuttle over to the property. Walking tours of the park will be given, with Cobb firefighters on hand as well as Diesel, a K-9 patrol dog, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 10, a Saturday.

Donations to the park may be submitted online by visiting the park’s website at MabryPark.org.

“Fifty years from now, most of the people living here would not recognize this place,” Berg said. “No matter what happens, that parkland will still be there, and it will still be a refuge for everyone, and it will still be a rural little pocket where people can go and still relax. … that’s what inspires me to say this is worth plugging away and staying at it.”
Comments
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ThankSam
|
November 02, 2012
Another legacy of Sham Olens leadership to buy a landlocked piece of property that would cost as much to make it usable as it costs to buy the land.

Can someone find for me in either the Georgia Constitution or the county code where it says the county must buy property that no one else wants to buy?
rgavin
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November 01, 2012
Well, JoAnn may have gotten raves on this one, but not so much in putting a 13 screen Movie Tavern so close to a neighborhood right up the street. I am all for renovating old, worn out bldgs. but the commisioners (except for Bob Ott) made the wrong choice on this one. Can't help but wonder if they were paid off by the developer.
TIC
|
November 01, 2012
Great location for the citizens of NE Cobb.

Good job JoAnn.

We don't need anymore devestation of natural areas like has happened at Holly Springs and Post Oak Tritt and along Wigley Road.
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