With 127 acres of unused land in their backyard rich in Civil War history, some Mableton residents are leading the charge to turn the county-owned property into a public park.
The Mableton Improvement Coalition has received a $75,000 grant from the U.S. National Park Service to study how to best take care of the Chattahoochee River Line Battlefield that extends from Vinings to Mableton and Smyrna.
Of the 127 acres that make up the battlefield, 103 acres rest between the banks of the Chattahoochee and Discovery Boulevard, which intersects with Veterans Memorial Highway near the river.
Robin Meyer, chairwoman of the coalition, thinks it’s the perfect candidate for Cobb County’s next public outdoor space.
“In the river line part of Mableton, we don’t really have a center,” Meyer said. “We don’t really have a place where if you want to hang out, you can go hang out.”
She envisions the wooded area featuring Civil War trenches and fortifications as a “passive nature park” that fosters a love of the outdoors and education on Cobb County’s history.
“Outdoor recreation and riverfront property are so attractive to human beings at a very basic level,” Meyer said. “It provides so much opportunity for community, and I am all about creating community.”
Roberta Cook, founder of the River Line Historic Area, says making the land accessible would bring historical resources to life.
The river line served as the last line of defense during the Civil War in Cobb County.
“The line was built by the Confederates, and when the federal troops came in they dug in trenches that were counter to that line,” Cook said. “So we have essentially two sets of trenches, one for each side.”
Nickajack Creek divided the two sides.
Defensive forts, called shoupades, dotted the river line and kept Union Gen. William Sherman at bay. His troops did not cross the Chattahoochee in Mableton and proceeded to Atlanta in July 1864, beginning the Battle of Atlanta.
Urbanization has claimed most war artifacts, and those behind the project maintain that the ones left are worth saving.
“Our history has been lost because of severe development,” Cook said.
There’s a long road ahead for the Mableton Improvement Coalition. The planning stages are just beginning and Meyer says before the group can move forward with the creation of a park, it has to understand how to protect the historical assets on the property.
It’s also going to take coordination with the Cobb County Community Development Agency, which owns the land.
“Cobb County and the Mableton Improvement Coalition are trying to ensure that these areas are being made publically accessible in a responsible manner, which includes ensuring the protection of the tributaries (and) waterways, and ensuring that the historic features are being preserved and protected for future generations,” said Dana Johnson, planning division manager for the county agency.
Residents can weigh in with what they would like to see happen to the river line today at 7 p.m. in the Barnett Gathering room at the Whitefield Academy Middle School Building, 1 Whitefield Drive near Buckner Road.
“The more people that know about what could happen here, the more momentum we could have,” Meyer said.