South River Forest process gets a steering committee
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:
- Don Bolia, Decide DeKalb (the county’s development authority) and The Great Park Connection Conservancy
- Celia Bynes, South River Gardens Community Association
- Sam Collier, “conservationist, real estate investor, and South River property owner”
- Fabrizio Garcia, Metro South Community Improvement District and The Great Park Connection Conservancy
- Jim Giattina, the consulting company Clarification & Mediation
- Jerry Hicks, South River Gardens Community Association
- Ronald Lall, Neighborhood Planning Unit W
- Joe Peery, South River Forest Coalition and Save the Old Prison Farm
- Anne Phillips, Neighborhood Planning Unit Z
- Rukia Rogers, The Highlander School
- State Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta)
- Margaret Spalding, South River Watershed Alliance, South River Forest Coalition and East Atlanta Community Association
- District 3 DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson
- DeKalb County Commission Chair Robert Patrick
- Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman
- District 1 Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Winston
- Chuck Ellis, DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs
- Susan Granbery, U.S. Forest Service
- Aaron Johnson, Office of U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams
- Kelly Jordan, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area Alliance. Jordan is also a photographer for SaportaReport.
- Kathy Waller, Atlanta Committee for Progress
- Betty Willis, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
- Katherine Zitsch, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District