Commissioners approve master plan for Nash Farm Park

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Nearly a decade after it was commissioned, a master plan for Nash Farm Park was approved formally with a Jan. 3 vote by the Henry County Board of Commissioners.

The plan includes walking trails, parking lots, playgrounds, conversion of an existing activity barn into an activity building, bike trails, equestrian trails, a covered pavilion and a garden.

The plan approved this month is unchanged from the one created in 2009, a year after the commissioners in office at that time approved the $8 million purchase of the approximately 200 acres on Jonesboro Road near the Clayton County line. That action was the result of extensive litigation involving a developer previously planning to build a large residential subdivision on the property, which some contended was the site of a Civil War battle.

“We are just going forward with the plan the original Board came up with,” said Commissioner Blake Prince. “There was not a sudden decision to do this. We’ve been trying to get to this point for months.”

County manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews said this action is one step toward her goal of having a master plan for all of the county’s parks, though this plan would not been implemented any time soon.

The lone dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Johnny Wilson, who voiced some concerns about paying off the remainder of the debt on the land before moving forward with anything else. The outstanding debt is about $2.5 million according to county staff.

The site lies in Commissioner Dee Clemmons’ district, and she pointed out that all of the costs so far have been from her district’s impact fees and no other source. She encouraged her fellow commissioners to share some of the revenue from their own districts to make the debt go away sooner.

Commissioner Bruce Holmes noted that he understood the land would be paid for by 2021, which Matthews confirmed.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the county,” Holmes said of the master plan. “This park has been dormant for years. We know this was not a battlefield and the actual battle took place at Lovejoy Station. Let’s move beyond this and make the park a great asset for the county.”

Board chair June Wood said some people still have questions about the status of the battlefield designation but felt that the land in question would be preserved with this plan anyway.