STOP THE SWAP: Say NO to DeKalb Co. Giving 40 Acres of Public Park to Private Development

STOP THE SWAP: Say NO to DeKalb Co. Giving 40 Acres of Public Park to Private Development

June 11, 2019
Petition to
DeKalb County CEO CEO Michael Thurmond and DeKalb County Board of Commissioners and 8 others
Signatures: 6,004Next Goal: 7,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Joe Peery

DeKalb County leaders are in the process of deciding whether to trade away ~40 acres of public park land at Intrenchment Creek Park to Blackhall Studios for private development.

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Private Benefit, Public Land
It's wrong to trade away public land for private profits. The land at ICP was made a protected greenspace in 2004 to provide environmental and recreational services for the community. It is meant to be permanently protected.

Illegal & a Very Bad Precedent
This land swap deal would open DeKalb County up to legal action because the County does not have the legal authority to trade the public land at Intrenchment Creek Park. The deed states the property "shall be used in perpetuity (forever) as park property." The deed also states that "any member of the general public (that's you) who utilizes the property, shall have the right to take any action necessary at law or in equity to enforce the Park Property Restriction."

This deal will put public land across the state of Georgia at risk of private development.

Who's Really Benefiting?
Blackhall Executive, Ryan Millsap, has told multiple residents that Blackhall will develop in DeKalb County regardless of whether there is a swap. However, Millsap and Blackhall REALLY want this swap. Why? Because if this swap happens, Blackhall will own 48 acres of developable land with a gain of around $2 million in land value. The land Blackhall currently owns includes ~35 acres suited for development and ~20 acres of floodplain that cannot be built upon. Ryan Millsap who is leading the charge for Blackhall Studios is a real estate investment specialist who has bought and sold more than a billion dollars worth of properties. Who do you think will profit in this deal? A real estate investor? Or DeKalb County leaders and citizens?

Severe Impact on Environment, Watershed & Loss of Natural Resources
We live in the South River watershed. The park provides valuable and contiguous wildlife habitat and forest canopy for countless community benefits including cleaner air, stormwater retention, wetland and watershed protection. Blackhall would cover 48 acres of our park with concrete, leaving us with dirtier air, more polluted water, more severe flooding and erosion, and more SEWAGE overflows - especially south of the park.

Development on the parkland will cause significant downstream impacts to neighborhoods south of the park and to the protected wetlands at Constitution Lakes. Since January 2019, DeKalb has allowed over 3 MILLION GALLONS of RAW SEWAGE to spill into Intrenchment Creek and the South River. The swap will cause more and worse sewage overflows in our community.

Wildlife Habitat: Ours to protect, not Blackhall's to destroy
ICP is home to wild rabbits, turkey, deer, fox, frogs and hundreds of other mammal, amphibian, reptile and bird species. In contrast, Bouldercrest Rd. cuts straight through the Blackhall parcels which are heavily clear cut making it a fractured, low quality habitat. ICP wildlife will be forced to cross busy roads and many will die of starvation. Displacement of wildlife means almost certain death.

An Existing Forest Cannot Be Replaced: Not a fair deal, much less a good deal
Experts agree - even with millions of dollars in restoration, you cannot recreate the conditions of an existing, healthy greenspace and forest. Additionally, you cannot compare the geographic location of our park which serves as a contiguous, natural buffer protecting Intrenchment Creek. The land Blackhall is offering is fractured habitat that runs on either side of a busy road and the majority further from the creek. It is mostly clear cut and stripped of soil, and has been used as a dump for years. Healthy soil takes decades to regenerate and newly planted trees often die if soil conditions are not ideal. DeKalb struggles to take care of our parks and has invested little to no money in ICP since it was purchased in 2004. If the swap happens, the County may plant trees - but they cannot replace our existing greenspace.

Our County leaders should be helping us protect our irreplaceable natural resources - especially land that protects our heavily impacted watershed. We should not have to protect public land that is "already protected."


Tell DeKalb officials, the Trust for Public Land and the Arthur Blank Foundation to honor their commitment and protect our public land! #STOPTHESWAP

Support now
Signatures: 6,004Next Goal: 7,500
Support now

Decision Makers

  • CEO Michael Thurmond and DeKalb County Board of CommissionersDeKalb County CEO
  • Commissioner Larry JohnsonDekalb County Commissioner
  • Commissioner Nancy JesterDekalb County Commissioner
  • Commissioner Kathie GannonDekalb County Commissioner
  • Commissioner Steve BradshawDekalb County Commissioner