Cobb approves compromise name for park with Confederate earthworks

After two years of controversy, Cobb commissioners have finally approved a name for a new park under construction along the Chattahoochee River in Mableton that contains Civil War earthworks.

A compromise was reached during the Tuesday commission meeting to name the 103-acre greenspace Discovery Park at the River Line.

It is being developed using $1 million from a special 1 percent sales tax.

Residents originally wanted to name it Mableton Discovery Park, after the surrounding neighborhood in Mableton off of Discovery Boulevard. They said the name was inclusive of the diverse community in which the park is located.

But some historic preservationists wanted to include a reference to Johnston’s River Line, a series of battlements on the site that were constructed using slave labor.

“This name does reflect the unity and the history of the park,” said Commissioner Lisa Cupid, referring to the newly approved compromise name. “The term ‘discovery’ does usher in people to discover the various aspects of this beautiful feature in this community. The ‘river line’ has historic connotation with recognizing the historical events that took place at this site.”

Ray Thomas, chair of the the Mableton Improvement Coalition, said the community is excited that the county has finally awarded a construction contract and work on the park has begun.

He expressed support for the new name.

“It reflects the future and appreciation for all the park encompasses, including natural resources, historical resources and connection to the Chattahoochee River,” Thomas said. “This name has been controversial for some time, so we hope that this will be resolved today.”

No one spoke in opposition to the name.

The site along the Chattahoochee River contains the remnants of Johnston’s River Line, a stretch of trenches and earthworks named for the Confederate general who oversaw its construction in 1864 using local slave labor. “Johnston’s Line” is included on the National Registry of Historic Places, but the name was never made official by the county.

The parkland was acquired by the county in a settlement with a developer in the early 1990s. In 2016, it was included on an approved list of SPLOST projects and a park master plan was created in 2018.

The plan includes a small parking lot, restroom, trails and signage highlighting the archaeological features. It also falls within the Chattahoochee Greenway, an ambitious project overseen by the Atlanta Regional Commission to create a 100-mile corridor of greenspace and trails along the river from Lake Lanier to Newnan.

Advocates hope the greenway will transform the metro region, particularly the industrial stretch along the river, in the way the Beltline did Atlanta.