The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The grassy field is no longer an official Roswell park, but don't tell kids in the Terramont subdivision. They play there every day.
"It's kind of a dog park," parent Jennifer Wagner said. "There's a garden out there, kids ride bikes and play ball."
But Terramont's "park" is endangered. Roswell wants to build a new fire station and the city-owned field is the top choice.
Fire Chief Ricky Spencer said the city started looking for a new site because it needs to shut down Fire Station No. 4 on Holcomb Bridge Road, about three-tenths of a mile east of the subdivision entrance.
The station is three decades old and in bad shape. A few months ago a truck backing into the station knocked a hole in a wall and revealed a serious termite infestation.
"There was nothing but sawdust in there," Spencer said. "It was eaten up."
Spencer said the station sits on about nine-tenths of an acre. The area is so small trucks must back into the bays, causing traffic slowdowns on busy Holcomb Bridge Road.
The tract beside Terramont is almost three acres, big enough to allow for drive-through truck bays. Spencer estimates a two-story station would cost between $2 million and $2.5 million. He said the city might build a small park or picnic area on the land.
"We want to be neighborhood friendly," he said.
Residents say the field was an actual city park until about eight years ago. Parks director Joe Glover said the park lost its parking lot when Holcomb Bridge Road was widened. The playground equipment became old and unsafe so the city took it out, along with the baseball field fencing, he said.
Only a dusty baseball backstop remains. Glover said the city mows the grass but considers the field "open space," not a park.
Terramont residents hope to talk the city into finding another spot or rebuilding on the current Fire Department site. They say traffic is already bad enough and that the construction noise would be bothersome, not to mention day-to-day life with an active station.
Some neighborhood moms, like Wagner, would like to see the field become a real park. Wagner traded e-mails in 2003 and 2004 with the Parks Department about making repairs and installing equipment, but said little came of it.
Jonathan and Rebecca Alford said they picked their house partly because the field promised quietness.
Now the couple is talking about selling the house.
"It would be a turnoff to me," Rebecca Alford said. "A fire station in your backyard? I don't want it."
Copyright 2010 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 29, 2010