Residents Flock to Mabry Park Preview
The conversion of farmland depends on donations and sales taxes.
Curious residents had to wait for Cobb County shuttle buses at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church on Nov. 13 to be among the first to preview Mabry Park.
The preview included walking tours, a police K-9 demonstration and a fire engine, but the undisturbed former farm was the star attraction.
Friends of Mabry Park, a nonprofit volunteer organization, and county Parks and Recreation Department representatives answered questions and explained park plans. Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Parks and Recreation Director Eddie Canon discussed the park's future.
"We're proposing a passive park," said Mark Jernigan, the president of Friends of Mabry Park. "We want to preserve the natural land."
The county used $4.3 million from its 2006 park bond issue to buy the 26.5 acres at Sandy Plains and Wesley Chapel roads from Ed and Sue Mabry Harris in May 2008. But the county does not have the money to develop the park.
Jernigan and Lee Berg formed Friends of Mabry Park to pursue donations and grants. The group has raised about $15,000 of the $20,000 it needs to pay for a master plan by the end of the year.
The county proposes to spend more than $4.5 million in special purpose local option sales taxes to bring the master plan to life if voters approve the six-year, $746 million extension of the 1-cent SPLOST next year.
A passive park means no athletic fields or imposing structures. Trees will remain intact. If a tree must be cut, the county will plant another in the park.
Jernigan said the public will decide which features the park needs, and commissioners must approve the master plan.
Proposed amenities under the current concept plans include an amphitheater, walking trails, a playground, a dog park and a community garden.
The amphitheater will not hold concerts, Jernigan said.
Some residents of the neighboring Highlands at Wesley Chapel subdivision expressed concerns about noise, trespassing and vandalism and found the proposed parking lot intrusive rather than passive.
The visitors to the former farmland this month, however, took an active role in following a tour guide through the rough pasture, avoiding manure and fire ant mounds. The walk circled a beautiful pond that park planners promise will remain undisturbed.