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The naming of a park with Civil War earthworks sparks debate

April 1, 2018

MABLETON, Ga. (AP) — Residents and leaders in a Georgia county are debating what to call a new park that contains unique Civil War earthworks.

The issue involving the 103-acre park in the Mableton area of Cobb County has sparked passionate viewpoints, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .

It comes after contentious debates over Confederate names and monuments across the nation in recent years.

Residents attending a recent meeting spoke in favor of calling the green space Mableton Discovery Park. They say the name is inclusive and forward-looking, suitable for a diverse community.

Naming the park for a battlefield “brings too much hurt, too much conflict, and too much division to the forefront,” said Mableton resident Robin Meyer.

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

But some historic preservationists say the county should honor the site’s history as a battlefield. The potential for tourism is greater if the name references the park’s historical value, they say.

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 County commissioners.

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

The site is along the Chattahoochee River, just northwest of Atlanta.

It 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, the Journal-Constitution reported.

“Johnston’s Line” is included on the National Registry of Historic Places, but the name was never made official by Cobb County.

Cobb County Commissioner Lisa 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.

Cupid noted the importance of recognizing Cobb’s history but also its future as it becomes more diverse.

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.


Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com

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