Above, Bill Jordan, back right, with his children, Clark, 7, back left, and  Lilly, 11, ride their bikes in 15 acres that used to be the Fort Peachtree site.
Above, Bill Jordan, back right, with his children, Clark, 7, back left, and Lilly, 11, ride their bikes in 15 acres that used to be the Fort Peachtree site.

Signs posted on the front gate weren’t exactly welcoming: “No trespassing,” “Stop, restricted area, only authorized personnel allowed,” “Warning: This property patrolled by surveillance equipment.”

But the gate was open.

After being locked away for years behind metal gates and tall fences, a new city of Atlanta greenspace has opened to public use on the banks of the Chattahoochee River.

The property at 2630 Ridgewood Road, owned by the city’s Department of Watershed Management, once was the location of the first non-Native American settlement in the area, and was the community that gave Peachtree Street its name, the city says.

On Oct. 16, city officials formally opened 15 acres of the property at the site of the former Fort Peachtree to public use.

The newly opened area will be operated by the city parks and recreation department and is open to the public during daylight hours.

Bill Jordan seemed pretty happy about that. One recent sunny Sunday afternoon, Jordan, who lives nearby, and two of his children hopped on their bikes and rode to the park to check it out.

“We heard the gates were open,” Jordan said. “It still looks fairly forbidding, doesn’t it?”

But he thought the little tract showed a lot of promise. “It needs some work, but it’ll be just great when it’s done,” Jordan said as his 7-year-old son Clark and 11-year-old daughter Lilly biked up the rutted dirt road through the creek-side greenery.

Jordan said he first heard about plans to open the area through a presentation to a homeowners’ group.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean said she had been working to get the parcel opened for public use after a couple of neighbors to the property brought it to her attention. “That side of town doesn’t have a lot of greenspace,” she said.

The Fort Peachtree property includes a pavilion, she said, and will allow kayakers and canoeists to get to the Chattahoochee River.

“This is a real game changer,” she said. “I’d say this is amazing.”

Opening the property also reopens an historic location. Fort Peachtree was built in 1814 at the confluence of Peachtree Creek and the Chattahoochee River, according to the website of the Fort Peachtree Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“On July 14, 1814, Fort Peachtree, the boat yard, five boats, two large block houses, six dwellings, and one storehouse had been constructed, which constituted the nucleus for the first non-Indian settlement in this area, which was later to become part of Atlanta, then in DeKalb County, ” the chapter’s website says.

Adrean said a reconstruction of the fort that was built near the site is on a part of the property which is not now open to the public. Eventually, she said, it may be relocated to the public

“This is a beginning,” she said. “It’s only going to get better.”

Presumably, some of the signs will come down soon.

Bill Jordan and two of his children are pleased the public can now enjoy greenspace at the former Fort Peachtree site.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.