Park service seeks comments for planned upgrades at park along Chattahoochee River

By David Pendered

More improvements are planned near the southern tip of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, including a proposed trail and elevated overlook with views of the river. The deadline for public comment is July 7.

Paces Mill park, Chattahoochee River

Planning for the first major rehabilitation of the Paces Mill facility, along the Chattahoochee River, is well underway through a joint effort of the Cumberland Community Improvement District and the National Park Service. Credit: parkplanning.nps.gov

Regular visitors, including kayakers and canoeists, are well familiar with the multi-year discussion to upgrade the Paces Mill park area. The site gets a lot of use and hasn’t had a major upgrade in decades.

Paces Mill is the last public spot in for recreational boaters, and others who float along the river, to exit the river within the boundaries of the national recreation lands. The park is located on the Cobb County side of the river, between the bridges of I-75 and U.S. 41.

In a newsletter, the National Park Service observes the park needs to be rehabilitated for the following reasons:

  • “The Paces Mill Unit is about 14 acres in size and highly used, with an estimated 250,000 visitors per year. The existing physical configuration of the unit is not efficiently meeting the needs of visitors and detracts from their enjoyment and safety. The National Park Service is considering rehabilitating the unit for a variety of reasons: 1) to resolve physical site design, appearance, and infrastructure concerns and deficiencies; 2) to enhance visitor enjoyment; and 3) to create a sustainable unit with strong NPS identity.”

The planned work at Paces Mill is in addition to the proposed two-mile trail to be built farther to the north, to link the park facility at Johnson Ferry Road with the property known as the old Hyde Farm. The Hyde Farm project would involve building a two-mile trail that would close a gap to the Silver Comet Trail from existing trails. Public comment closed May 10.

The Paces Mill project represents a joint effort of the National Park Service and the Cumberland Community Improvement District.

For the Cumberland CID, the project dovetails into efforts to improve mobility and the quality of life in a commercial district near SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.

This is how the Cumberland CID characterizes the project:

  • “The rehabilitation project at the Paces Mill / Palisades Recreation Unit will undoubtedly enhance the outdoor experience. The collaborative project between the Cumberland CID and the National Park Service will augment the distinguishment Cumberland has as a diverse place to live, work and play.”
Chattahoochee River

A July 7 deadline is set for public comments on plans to upgrade the last park where vessels can exist the Chattahoochee River in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
File/Credit: David Pendered

Elsewhere, the CID reminds of the extent of the national park that is within the boundaries of the CID and has a connection to the Atlanta BeltLine:

  • “The Cumberland Submarket is home to more than 800 of the 6,500 acres of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA), including the Paces Mill, Palisades, and Cochran Shoals Units and Trailheads.
  • “One-third of the CRNRA’s 3.2 million visitors annually;
  • “Paces Mill, Palisades, and Cochran Shoals units’ trailheads connect to 16 miles of multi-use trails, with an additional nine miles planned or under construction, linking Cumberland to the Silver Comet, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta Beltline Trails.”

The Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy included a notice of the project, and the deadline for public comment, in the June edition of its Park Post e-newsletter. The conservancy is a non-profit organization formed as the only official friends group of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

Note to readers: Public comments on the proposed project at Paces Mill are due by July 7 and may be submitted online or mailed to Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area; c/o Paces Mill Rehabilitation; 1978 Island Ford Parkway; Sandy Springs, Ga. 30350

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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