Cobb at impasse over how to name park with Confederate earthworks

What’s in a name? 

That was the question posed to Cobb County residents and officials this week as the board of commissioners debated what to call a new 103-acre park in Mableton that contains unique Civil War earthworks. 

Residents attending Tuesday’s meeting spoke passionately in favor of calling the greenspace Mableton Discovery Park, a name they said was inclusive and forward-looking, suitable for a public amenity to be enjoyed by a vibrant, diverse community. But some historic preservationists argued the county should honor the site’s history as a battlefield, saying the potential for tourism was greater if the name referenced its historical value. 

The site along the Chattahoochee River contains the remnants of Johnston’s River Line, a stretch of trenches and earthworks named for the Confederate general who oversaw its construction in 1864 using local slave labor. “Johnston’s Line” is included on the National Registry of Historic Places, but the name was never made official by the county. 

READ MORE: One Cobb company made more than 140 of the South’s Confederate statues

In the end, the board approved a master plan for the park but was unable to agree on a name, postponing the decision until a later date. The master plan calls for clearing trails along the river and through the forest, with signage highlighting the archaeological features. Development of the park would be funded with $1 million from a special 1 percent sales tax. 

About two dozen supporters of the Mableton Improvement Coalition turned out with signs urging commissioners to approve the name Mableton Discovery Park. Three people spoke out against that name. 

“I certainly respect the historical value and the historical features that are in this park,” said Mableton resident Ray Thomas. “However, naming the park after a Confederate Civil War general is not appropriate, and we do not support it.” 

Mableton resident Robin Meyer said she initially saw nothing wrong with naming the land something that paid homage to its status as a historic battleground. 

“Since then, I’ve listened to and learned from my neighbors and friends, and I’ve dug deep into the myth and the reality that the Civil War projects on us today,” she said. Naming the park for a battlefield “brings too much hurt, too much conflict, and too much division to the forefront.” 

“We don’t need to name this park for a battlefield for historians and Civil War enthusiasts to find it,” she continued. “Please name this park something that will make it a part of our community.” 

Ken Griffiths of the Georgia Civil War Commission said his organization supported what he called the “current historical name,” Johnston River Line Park. 

Naming the property Mableton Discovery Park “ignores the historical significance” of the site, he told Cobb commissioners. 

“We can’t change history but we can try to explain it,” Griffiths said. 

Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the district, told the audience that she was prepared to support Mableton Discovery Park as a name but failed to garner support from Commissioners Bob Ott, JoAnn Birrell and Bob Weatherford, who all cited concerns about undermining the history of the area. 

Chairman Mike Boyce recused himself because he has donated money to the River Line Historic Area. 

Cupid expressed regret that the debate over the name was opening old wounds, noting a clear divide in opinion between the mostly black residents of Mableton who spoke at the meeting and the preservationists, who were all white. She noted the importance of recognizing Cobb’s history but also its future as it becomes more diverse. 

“How do we create inclusion for everyone?” Cupid asked. “I just don’t see having the name battlefield does that.” 

Cupid expressed frustration with her fellow commissioners, saying that in the past, it has been the custom of the board to allow the district commissioner and his or her constituents to make decisions about parks and amenities in their own area. 

“Somehow, the interests of this community are being trumped by other interests,” Cupid said.


The AJC's Meris Lutz keeps you updated on the latest happenings in Cobb County government and politics. You'll find more on, including these stories: 

Never miss a minute of what's happening in Cobb politics. Subscribe to

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Gwinnett weekend weather & events: Storms, wind possible
Gwinnett weekend weather & events: Storms, wind possible

It’s going to be a rainy weekend, according to Channel 2 Action News meteorologists. A system bringing isolated storms to metro Atlanta is moving in Friday afternoon and staying put all weekend, says meteorologist Karen Minton. Those storms have the potential to bring hail and winds between 40 and 60 miles per hour. Prepare for the wet weekend...
5 indicted for arson after posting video on social media, prosecutors say
5 indicted for arson after posting video on social media, prosecutors say

Five metro Atlanta men accused of arson after prosecutors said they got drunk, set a fire at a vacant home and posted a video of their exploits have been indicted.  The April 19 fire burned the Sharpsburg home to the ground and posed a threat to the surrounding woods, a Coweta County fire official said. Prosecutors accused the men of walking...
Woman hits 3 vehicles on busy Peachtree Street following chase, GSP says
Woman hits 3 vehicles on busy Peachtree Street following chase, GSP says

A woman pulled over by Capitol police Friday morning led authorities on a chase through East Point and downtown Atlanta before hitting three vehicles on busy Peachtree Street, the Georgia State Patrol said. Authorities initially stopped Ashlea Baumann, 38, of Snellville, about 9 a.m. on Northside Drive near Markham Street for a tag infraction, according...
CrossRoadsNews delivers final print edition to south DeKalb
CrossRoadsNews delivers final print edition to south DeKalb

Today is the last day the CrossRoadsNews newspaper will be dropped off at locations across south DeKalb County. The paper’s publisher recently decided to cut costs by ending the printed edition and going online only. “It was a good run, but our time is up,” read the headline on a post by editor and publisher Jennifer Parker ...
Milton’s Peyton Barber set to start at running back for Buccaneers
Milton’s Peyton Barber set to start at running back for Buccaneers

A native of north Fulton County is set to get the bulk of carries at running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. Earlier this week, Tampa head coach Dirk Koetter identified Peyton Barber, a Milton High School graduate, as the Buccaneers starting running back. A third-year back out of Auburn, Peyton carried the ball four times in the Bucs&rsquo...
More Stories