A rendering of the proposed training facility. (Courtesy Atlanta Police Foundation)

The South River Forest Coalition (SRFC) – made up of residents from City of Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb County, various civic, business, neighborhood, and environmental organizations – has adopted a resolution opposing the creation of a public safety training camp on a piece of land previously earmarked for greenspace. 

Owned by the city, but located inside DeKalb off Moreland Avenue, the 350-acre property has been known variously as the “Prison Farm,” ‘Honor Farm” and, more recently, as the derisive “Cop City” after plans for the training facility were announced.

The training facility would take up 150 acres of the property – operated as a labor farm for low-level offenders until 1995 – and include a mock village for police and fire personnel training. The Atlanta City Council could act on leasing the property to the Atlanta Police Foundation to build the $90 million facility at its Aug. 16 meeting.

The move by the city council and support from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has drawn sharp criticism since the city had originally earmarked the property as part of a proposed “South River Forest” park.

In its resolution, the SRFC said the legislation and proposal before Atlanta City Council  is in direct conflict with the Atlanta City Design, Aspiring to the Beloved Community plan and adopted into the charter of the city in November 2017.

The resolution states: “The SRFC supports the highest and best use of the former 300+ acre Prison Farm property for Atlanta communities as a core tract of green infrastructure to be protected in-perpetuity as passive greenspace, for urban forest and ecological habitat restoration to protect the Intrenchment Creek and South River watersheds, for the development of an alternative transportation corridor, and for future public recreational use, as promulgated in the Charter of the City of Atlanta.” 

The city and the Atlanta Police Foundation have said the training facility is critical to retaining and training personnel as the city combats an increase in violent crime.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.