ACWORTH — Charline Cambron calls her 54-acre Baker Road property “a little piece of paradise,” but if she had her way, it could potentially be that and more for her neighbors and other county residents.
Cambron’s family has owned the land since her parents bought it in 1958, with she and her parents and brother moving onto it in 1965. She and her husband, Donald Perryman, continue to live there today, and in addition to their house, the land also serves as the site of Rosewood Farm, where she raises goats for meat, some of which is sold to metro Atlanta restaurants, including The Butcher The Baker in Marietta and Canoe in Vinings. She had about 130 goats on the farm Wednesday.
And while the animals now occupy a number of her property’s grassy areas, she sees those acres as well as the property’s wooded lands as the perfect site for a county park. She, along with the Cobb Parks Coalition, are promoting an open house on her property from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to show the land’s potential for future park land.
“I would love for this to become a park,” she says. “The walking traffic on Baker Road, in the evenings and the mornings, people walking their dogs or jogging, we don’t have anything on this end of the county for Cobb County — Kennesaw has Swift-Cantrell and Acworth has Logan Farm Park. (This) is for the purpose of seeing it as a potential park and let the neighbors see what’s here that could be a park, because when neighbors get behind stuff, it does help, and a lot of people probably have no idea that this is actually in here, because you really can’t see it from the street.”
Cambron said she can imagine the land, surrounded almost entirely by neighborhoods, providing for county residents amenities such as dog parks or community garden space. Her house, she added, could be used for a county office, an event center or some other use.
“This could be a lot of things, and it would all be beneficial to the county,” she said. “To me, it would be like adding another little jewel in Cobb County’s crown, because we need greenspace. [And] the owls and the hawks and all those guys still need a place to live.”
Cambron said the county could pursue a purchase of her land, or perhaps even a life estate, where the land would be transferred to the county upon her death.
“There’s really basically probably only two endgames: I’m the last Cambron, and one day it’ll be developed or it could be a park, and I would love to see it become a park, because it is my home, and I would hate to see them (develop it), because when they develop stuff, they grade it pretty much flat,” she said. “If it doesn’t become a park, who knows what’s going to go in? No matter what (it is), people don’t like change, there’s going to be people who are for it and people that are against it. I would think that a park would enhance their property values, but of course, some of them are probably going to say no, but everybody has a different take on that.”
IS LAND ON THE LIST?
Cambron’s property had been recommended as the site of a possible county park before. In late 2008 and into 2009, a public nomination process was held to determine which properties Cobb residents wanted to see the county purchase in order to increase greenspace. The nomination period followed voters’ November 2008 approval of a $40 million parks bond, but the bonds were never issued by then-county Chairman Sam Olens due to a tanking economy and a tax increase he said would come as a result of the bonds’ issuance.
That process resulted in more than 330 nominated properties. County commissioners in late October 2009 were presented by the parks bond citizen advisory committee a list of 29 properties that had been whittled from those that were nominated. Cambron’s property was one of those 29.
The parks bond issue fell off the radar until details of Chairman Tim Lee’s plan to bring the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County were released. Lee’s plan to finance the new ballpark involved increasing general fund millage just as debt service millage used for a previous park bond was paid off and decreased. The discussion prompted commissioners to authorize a similar nomination process for parkland this year, with more than 160 properties across the county nominated. The parcels are located in all areas of Cobb and range in size from 0.5 acres to more than 120 acres, Tom Bills, senior project manager for the county’s parks department, told the MDJ last month.
But county officials last month said they could not reveal if any of the 29 properties recommended in 2009 were among those nominated this year, though Bills said that at the beginning of this year, of those 29, county officials could find no evidence of development activity on 21 of them. He added that the board has an Oct. 25 deadline to present its list of recommended properties to the Board of Commissioners. Commissioners are scheduled to meet that day.
Paul Paulsen of west Cobb founded the Cobb Parks Coalition to promote the county’s $40 million parks bond.
He said the coalition wants to see the nomination list made public.
“By the county refusing to reveal the properties that are nominated, it adds a cloud of opaqueness that does a disservice to all that we’ve done. Why not do it now? People need to know what’s out there,” Paulsen said. “That’s why we want it to be open.”
Paulsen said he hopes the public will come to Saturday’s event to see a site that could one day become a source of county greenspace.
COMMISSIONERS: COMMITTEE’S JOB TO SELECT PROPERTIES
In addition to community members, organizers have also invited members of the Cobb Board of Commissioners. Three commissioners — JoAnn Birrell, Lisa Cupid and Bob Ott — told the MDJ that they each had prior commitments and would not be attending Saturday’s open house.
“I expect the coalition of Parks and Recreation board appointees to evaluate this property along with the other properties nominated for consideration,” Cupid said.
Ott said that while he has not yet seen the property in person, he believes it will be moved forward by the advisory committee.
“My understanding is it’s going to be one of the properties that comes forward,” he said. “I’ve talked to the folks who are my appointees to the committee, and they’ve kind of kept me abreast of where they are looking at properties, and they’re going to come talk to me once they’ve finished reviewing the properties.”
But Ott said it was too early to say if any property was worthy to become a future county park.
“We have a committee, so it’s important to let the committee do the work that they’re out there doing,” Ott said. “I don’t want them to think they’re wasting their time if we’re all of a sudden making decisions without letting them do the research and investigation they’re out there doing. I’m just waiting for them to finish and let us know.”
Birrell said she too had not seen the property in person, but could do so if it is selected. “Once we get the recommended list in October from the parks board, I plan to make site visits to the selected properties,” she said.
Only time will tell if county leaders pursue Cambron’s land for a future park. But what would happen if the county bought the land from Cambron?
“I’m not ready to live in a house with a neighbor that close. I’d most likely buy something else. I would like to stay in Cobb County, I love Cobb County. I would like to find a smaller piece of property in Cobb County and downsize,” she said. “But I would still have goats.”