Located in the southern part of DeKalb County, along the DeKalb-Henry county line, is a community of residents who feel they are the forgotten ones. It’s the community that has to put up with the smells of the Seminole Landfill, where the county dumps its trash.
“We don’t get the help we’re supposed to get around here,” said 85-year-old Dora Mae Johnson, who has lived in the County Line/Ellenwood community her entire life.
Johnson said she wants the county to help her community hook up to the county’s water and sewer system. Currently, the residents use septic tanks.
“It seems like every year I have trouble with that septic tank,” said Johnson, adding that residents have signed several petitions about the septic tanks.
“We need to get off them,” said Eddie White, another lifelong resident of the County Line/Ellenwood community.
Septic tanks are just one of the issues residents in the area want the county to address. Residents have been asking for a comprehensive recreational park since the 1990s.
The only community park in the area is the 8-acre County Line Park located at 4059 Old River Road in Ellenwood with limited parking. Listed on the county’s website as a neighborhood park, the park has a multi-use field, basketball court, tennis courts, multi-use courts, playground, picnic area and trails.
“It’s a little neighborhood park,” said resident Annie Johnson-Sinkfield about the park where the annual community day attracts 2,000-3,000 people is held. “It’s too small.”
“We need something like what other parts of the county have,” Johnson-Sinkfield said. “There’s a great need for that in this community. We need something bigger and better.”
Residents in the community said they were promised that a second road would be built coming out of the park to relieve congestion. The road is supposed to be built across 15 acres and would leave the park in front of the landfill, said Ronald Johnson, president of the County Line/Ellenwood Coumunity group.
In 2007, the County Line United Methodist Church, one of the oldest in the community, sold the county 15 aces on Clevemont Road across from the landfill for use as a borrow source to cover trash in the landfill.
When the Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of the land approximately four years ago for $300,000, “the stipulations in the purchase did not include the property to be used as a park,” said Burke Brennan, chief communications officer in DeKalb. When the BOC approved the purchase it was indicated the property would only be used for soil and a landfill entrance buffer.
The sanitation department has developed a permanent maintenance pond, fenced off the property for security and has removed all the soil material, Brennan said. Tree seedlings were planted at the entrance of the property.
The department applied for a notice of termination (NOT) to the state mining permit. Once the state approves the NOT, the property will be allowed to reforest to create a permanent buffer to the landfill entrance, Brennan said.
Another area where residents tried to get a park is at the corner of River and Linecrest roads.
“Back in the 1990s they [county officials] asked us to find property to build a comprehensive park, and that was the area that we found,” Ronald Johnson said. “What they told us when we brought that property to the county is that it was too high. They didn’t want to spend that kind of money.”
Now the county is in the process of constructing a 12,000-square-foot library on the same land that the community wanted to use for a park. Construction is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012.
“We didn’t ask them to build a library,” Ronald Johnson said. “We’ve been asking for a park since the early 1990s.”
Nearly a mile from that area, late county commissioner Lou Walker led the Board of Commissioners in the purchase of approximately 46 acres for a park in 2003 at cost of $790,500. The property was purchased for a future park and to protect part of the South River.
“But nothing’s been done,” Ronald Johnson said.
In addition to the septic tanks and parks, the residents have concerns about potholes, sidewalks and MARTA routes.
“We’ve been complaining for years,” Ronald Johnson said.
County Line/Ellenwood residents hope they will get some answers on Dec. 10 during their annual town hall meeting to which county leaders are invited.
“We’re just not getting our fair share of the money that the [county] has,” said Jennette Boyd Moore, 76, a third-generation DeKalb resident.