South River Forest Map

The land approved by City Council to be purchased from The Conservation Fund are highlighted in yellow.

Credit: The Conservation Fund

The city is moving forward to buy 46 acres in the South River Forest for the creation of parks and trails in Southeast Atlanta.

Atlanta City Council approved legislation at its May 15 meeting to spend up to $1.6 million to buy the land located in two separate areas of the forest.

The first site is roughly 12 acres and is nestled between the Interstate 75/85 Connector and the South River, adjacent to the city’s Pryor-Tucker Playlot, a small playground.

The second site is about 34 acres just north of Empire Park.

Councilmember Antonio Lewis, who represents the district where the property would become new park land, said he grew up exploring the woods around the South River. The George Washington Carver Homes project was located in the area of the land the city is buying.

“The old [housing] projects of Atlanta, that’s where these parks are,” Lewis said at the May 9 community development committee meeting. “We used to call this ‘the woods.'”

He said many Atlantans are asked how long they have known about the Chattahoochee River.

“And they always say, ‘My whole life,'” Lewis said. “I say, ‘Well, how long have you known about South River?’ And they don’t know. And that’s my Chattahoochee. That’s our Chattahoochee.”

Doug Voss, deputy commissioner of Parks and Recreation, told the committee the city would soon hold meetings with community members to create a vision for what they want for the land.

Both sites are covered with invasive plants, Voss said, and getting to the South River from the land near the interstate is “very difficult.”

But the city believes it can work with partners to build a trail to the river and clear out the areas to build more trails and amenities and create connections to neighborhoods and area parks, Voss said.

The 46 acres is owned by nonprofit The Conservation Fund, which bought the land from Habitat for Humanity. The Conservation Funds works with cities and other institutions to protect land from development. In 2020, the city partnered with The Conservation Fund to save the 216-acre forest known as the Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve.

The 46 acres are in Atlanta and not located near the site of the city’s planned public safety training center, which is also in the South River Forest but in unincorporated DeKalb County.


More park spending

Councilmember Dustin Hillis at the May 15 council meeting introduced legislation to bolster the city’s dedicated Parks Improvement Fund by approximately $16 million annually. If approved, it would be the largest yearly commitment to Atlanta parks in 50 years, according to the city.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.

Tags: Georgia  Atlanta  parks  forest