A little-used parking lot on Peachford Road that is owned by First Baptist of Atlanta Church may be on the way to becoming a softball complex.
A sign recently erected in front of the parking lot, listing its address as 2022 Peachford Road, states that the property is subject to “a proposed eminent domain proceeding for the purpose of acquisition of the land for a park.”
The sign states that the mayor and the city council “will consider a resolution to authorize the power of eminent domain to acquire the property” at its June 13 city council meeting.
Dunwoody Communications Director Jennifer Boettcher said the city identified the 4.83-acre site “as one that appeared to be underutilized and often locked.”
In a statement to Reporter Newspapers, Boettcher said: “The property is in the future 100-year flood plain, which may limit future development options. The city believes the property has real potential and would provide a benefit to all residents as park space. Specifically, the city sees this as a promising location for softball fields to address concerns about sports equity.”
Boettcher, in her statement, said the property is attractive as it is within walking distance of Peachtree Middle School, and said that the city has secured a “bona fide appraisal and made an offer in the effort to buy the property from First Baptist Church.”
She added: “The option of pursuing eminent domain was advertised to show the city’s commitment to the process.”
Concerns about installing softball and sports fields have resonated with residents whose homes are located near two proposed parks – one on Vermack Road and the other on Roberts Drive at the former Austin Elementary School site. Neighbors are worried about the influx of traffic to the area, as well as potential light pollution.
Several versions of the Austin plan have been circulated, and the most recent revisions on the city’s website note that the “softball field was changed from a 250 ft. adult field in the southeast corner facing the Arden Woods neighborhood to a 220 ft. youth field in the northeast corner facing the detention pond/powerline easement.”
The area is now a passive park. Preliminary estimates top $10 million for its full development. There is currently no funding in the city’s budget, and parks and city council officials have been discussing a bond referendum to finance its construction, along with other parks improvements.
First Baptist Church of Atlanta, with an estimated congregation of more than 15,000, is one of the most prominent churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. Its senior pastor is Anthony George, who succeeded Charles Stanley in 2020. Stanley had led the congregation for 49 years prior to stepping down.
Officials with First Baptist Church were not available for comment regarding the matter.