DeKalb CEO announces he plans to reopen Intrenchment Creek ParkCEO Michael Thurmond speaks during DeKalb County Government’s 39th annual MLK Celebration at the Maloof Auditorium in Decatur on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Atlanta, GA — DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Michael Thurmond, on June 6, announced he plans to reopen Intrenchment Creek Park on Bouldercrest Road Southeast. The announcement did not provide details for reopening the park but says $1.8 million will go toward constructing new amenities.
The new amenities at Intrenchment Creek Park will include a pavilion, trailhead, remote control airplane runway and walking trail, according to a press release.
Intrenchment Creek Park has been closed to the public since March.
“I thank the Board of Commissioners for supporting our request to fund the redevelopment and reopening of Intrenchment Creek Park,” Thurmond said. “We are excited about the investment in the new amenities and will work to expedite construction.”
The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners allocated the project funding from the 2023 Tourism Product Development Fund which comes from hotel and motel taxes.
“I know everyone is eager to get back to participating in recreational activities in the Intrenchment Creek Park, so we are thrilled to receive this funding to improve the quality of life for the citizens of DeKalb,” said DeKalb County Parks Director Chuck Ellis.
Thurmond issued an executive order on Friday, March 24, that closed and restricted access to Intrenchment Creek Park and other county-owned properties in the area.
Intrenchment Creek Park is located near the proposed public safety training center in DeKalb County, called “Cop City” by activists. The Atlanta City Council approved funding for the training center after hearing several hours of public comment on Monday, June 5.
The order closed the area to the community, residents, and visitors, “given the recent and ongoing criminal activities occurring on or near the Properties, including, but not limited to, the installation of hidden traps or other devices designed to injure, maim, or cause the death of adults, children, and pets,” according to a press release.
The land is central to a controversial deal the county made with a private company. DeKalb traded Intrenchment Creek Park for a nearby area in 2021, WABE reported.
On Monday, March 27, the county announced the steps it is taking to reopen the park to the public, including clearing the area of traps and activists on the property. During the sweep, police recovered “a Molotov cocktail, booby trap boards with rusty nails protruding out, and several syringes containing Fentanyl,” a press release from the county says.
DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry asked the CEO to share the plan for reopening the park in an email shared with Decaturish. He questioned when the park will reopen, if it will reopen once the trail head and trail is rebuilt, and how long it will take until a contractor is selected.
Terry also shared his disappointment in the Atlanta City Coucnil’s vote in his newsletter. Here is his full statement:
Last night, the City of Atlanta was given an opportunity to show how a healthy democratic system can and should work for the people. Yet, after 14 hours of vocal public opposition to Atlanta’s Police Training Facility from upwards of 350 people, myself included, the Atlanta City Council voted against the interests of many of their constituents. In an 11-4 vote, the Atlanta City Council approved funding for the $90 million project; $67 million of which will be funded by taxpayers, thus clearing the way for the construction of the controversial facility (I would like to thank the four Councilmembers who stood with their constituents and voted against – Jason Dozier, Liliana Bakhtiari, Keisha Waites and Antonio Lewis). In that vote, a system that allows environmental racism and injustice to persist in Southwest DeKalb, where the facility is being developed, was given permission and approval to move full-steam ahead.
As are many of you, I am disappointed that this funding was approved. Over the course of many, many months, I actively sent comments to the City Council from myself and constituents of DeKalb County, opposing this development and pushing for it to be built elsewhere.
I have and will continue to argue that much of the pain and suffering this ill-fated plan has caused could be remedied by developing the site somewhere else. I still don’t believe it is too late to change the location. The current clear-cut area has, unfortunately, already been ruined, yet can still be remedied by completing the original vision of reclaiming this land for parks and green space. We also still believe that this site location and the development pattern approved is a violation of the Federal Clean Water Act, and expect to have our day in court soon. If this appeal fails in Superior Court, we reserve our right to appeal to the federal level.
Though this is a setback, this is not the end. I will continue to fight and represent my constituents, the people of DeKalb County. I am here, ready, willing and able to come to the table and engage in true, meaningful dialogue and discussion between our two legislative bodies. We must work together on opportunities to cooperate across jurisdictional boundaries to realize the vision of the South River Forest.
Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.