Georgia Power open to police horse stable reuse after substation work, says City Council member
By John Ruch
The Atlanta City Council member pushing for a reuse plan for a police horse stable in Grant Park says landlord Georgia Power is open to such ideas as a public park – with the asterisk that major work is coming on a substation there.
District 1 Councilmember Jason Winston said he met earlier this month with Georgia Power about the Atlanta Police Department (APD) Mounted Patrol stable at 1001 Cherokee Ave. APD intends to move the horses to the City’s controversial public safety training center planned for a site in DeKalb County, the timeframe of which remains unclear.
Winston especially wants the horses to remain in some fashion because they are popular with the community. The horses can be seen through a fence and during barn visiting hours, and officers frequently ride them through the neighborhood. But he says he is “going rogue trying to get ahead of this [stable move]” for the general idea of any reuse, with only informal conversations so far with Mayor Andre Dickens’ administration.
“It potentially could have multiple uses in my idea,” said Winston. He said the Georgia Power team said it would have internal discussions and likely give more feedback in January.
Georgia Power has not responded to questions, but Winston said its representatives were open to such ideas as a park and reuse by the City or a nonprofit. A big caveat, he said, is that the company is planning a “major renovation” of a substation on the property, which could start in late 2023 or early 2024 and may reorient power lines.
APD spokesperson Chata M. Spikes said the department considers the Mounted Patrol to be in part a community relations device for all 245 Atlanta neighborhoods and that it will have some kind of local presence at least in that sense.
“The Mounted Police Unit will continue to be visible and available throughout the city, to include the Grant Park neighborhood,” she said.
APD uses 6 acres of a roughly 20-acre property, known as the Grady Substation, at the intersection of Cherokee and Mead Street. Parts of the property abut Grant Street and the Atlanta BeltLine. The site is dominated by the large substation and related power lines but also has a wooded area.
APD operates there under a 2003 lease that includes no rental fee and renews automatically every year unless either party wants out. The property is also used for police dog training. A curiosity of the lease, which was provided by the City Department of Enterprise Assets Management (DEAM), is that it limits APD’s use to training drug- and bomb-sniffing dogs “and for no other purpose,” though “K/9-Mounted” is handwritten at the top. DEAM could not immediately explain why the Mounted Unit is not in the restrictive lease, but Winston said Georgia Power is aware the horses are there and obviously does not object.
If APD leaves the property, the lease requires the City to remove everything – including buildings – at its expense. Winston said the Georgia Power officials were not aware of the plan to move the stable. The new site also partly includes a Georgia Power electric line right of way.
The training center is still in an early phase, with APF seeking a land disturbance permit from the County in anticipation of a possible phase-one completion in mid-2025. The project also has drawn significant opposition, including protests and legal questions.
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