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South River Forest process gets a steering committee

A map of the current South River Forest green space area. The exact boundary may change based on public input. (Image by Atlanta Regional Commission/The Nature Conservancy.)

By John Ruch

A 25-member steering committee for the South River Forest green space concept has been named as public engagement meetings are set to begin this month. The committee includes a variety of elected officials, neighborhood activists, community leaders and representatives of foundations that could fund the vision.

A formal part of the City of Atlanta’s long-range planning vision, South River Forest is a concept for creating and connecting 3,500 acres of parks and other green spaces in Southeast Atlanta and DeKalb County. It includes several existing parks, such as Constitution Lakes, Intrenchment Creek and Southside. Atlanta’s recently opened Lake Charlotte Nature Preserve is a key anchor for the concept.

Also within the area is the former Atlanta Prison Farm, part of which is slated to be used for Atlanta’s controversial public safety training center. At a point of political tension and confusion, that facility has a separate Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSAC). Some members of the CSAC are directly or indirectly represented on the South River Forest steering committee, including Anne Phillips of Neighborhood Planning Unit Z and the Great Park Connection Conservancy, whose co-chairs are CSAC members.

The South River Forest process is being led by the Georgia chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a nonprofit organization, with planning and technical assistance from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). A “consensus building and stakeholder engagement” phase began last month with an online survey that is available through August. The process continues through October and will include community meetings on June 25 and July 28, according to TNC. For more about the process, see the South River Forest website.

According to TNC, steering committee members were chosen by a project management team that includes representatives from ARC, TNC, the City, DeKalb County and “local community members.”

The full list of steering committee members as categorized by TNC is as follows:

Community Members

Elected Officials

Philanthropic Leaders

Other Members

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1 Comment

  1. BB June 10, 2022 10:58 am

    too many conflicts of interests here. I’m not holding my breathe that this committee will actually deliver for the black residents of South River Forest since the black residents are largely missing from the list, replaced by representatives of corporate interests. Atlanta Committee for Progress is an operation of Cox Enterprises which owns the AJC, and it’s also a donor to the Atlanta Police Foundation. As Saporta has accurately reported, APF has been defrauding the public by lying about their environmental assessments of the Old Atlanta Prison Farm. The Great Park Connection Conservancy is operated by a PR firm that was hired by Blackhall Studios to paint their illegal aquisition of a section of Intrenchment Creek Park and their failed attempt at development in a positive light. These two organizations specifically are shams and not representative of the black and lower income residents that will be most impacted by the decisions of this “committee.” They should be removed along with the rest of the corporate representatives in order to increase the transparency of the decision making process as they are clear conflicts of interests.Report

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