A community steeped in history dating back 200 years, Mountain Park east of Stone Mountain and Atlanta continues to grow as one of the best places to live in Gwinnett County.
And, the Mountain Park Community Association, still in its formative years, is in a definite growth spurt. The Association represents a community named the fourth best place to live in the Metro Atlanta Area, according to a recent poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Membership in the MPCA includes residents and businesses located within two zip codes in unincorporated Gwinnett County, as well as the City of Lilburn. This area cuts a wide swath in the shadow of Stone Mountain, stretching down Five Forks Trickum Road between Rockbridge and Killian Hill Roads. It extends into the Smoke Rise community to east of Killian Hill, between U.S. Highways 29 and 78. Tens of thousands live in this vicinity.
The grass-roots group is composed of more than 600 individuals on Facebook and 300 on its email list, according to Kate L. Pittman, founder and incoming president of the organization. About eight to 10 people have taken leadership roles.
Although organizational meetings have been slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the MPCA has successfully hosted five public meetings since its first one in November 2019, when over 80 people showed up “in-person,” filling the Mountain Park Activity Building. The second meeting also had the same number in attendance before the group went “virtual.”
Through computer video conferences, representatives from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Gwinnett County Police Department, and the Gwinnett County Planning Department have been guest speakers. Future meetings will include officials of the City of Lilburn, a municipality located within the Mountain Park community.
The Mountain Park Community Association is organized to advocate for the community at large in governmental and private entity matters related to quality of life, social well-being, safety, health, transportation, mobility, economic resilience, zoning, development, and similar community-related matters.
“The MPCA can be a way to inform and empower community members to take matters into their own hands and solve problems,” Ms. Pittman said. “Instead of complaining online about garbage pickup, potholes, slow traffic lights or messy neighbors, there are numbers you can call listed on our website.” She added that they will be happy to arrange a guest speaker to address almost any issue the community proposes.
The group is in the process of incorporating its charter with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger’s office. Mike Ososki, also one of the main leaders, is spearheading that effort.
“This is an extra hoop to jump through, but our county commissioner said incorporating would help us gain a seat at the table when plans are being made that affect the community,” Ms. Pittman said. “It also will increase our spokesperson’s credibility in being a voice of the community and allow us to keep track of things better.”
“It will allow us to raise funds for administrative items like hosting public meetings on our own Zoom account. That would not only allow organizational efforts to increase, but it will enable us to record meetings to share on our website and links in our newsletters,” she said, adding that they would also like to do special projects, like plantings at the parks and erecting a sign welcoming people to the Mountain Park Community.
The community here began to be called Mountain Park in the mid-to late-1960’s, a nod to the nearby Stone Mountain Park, which had just opened as Georgia’s newest and popular state park. By 2015, Stone Mountain Park was the most visited destination in the state.
Farmland became subdivisions as many young families moved into new homes in the area. As Gwinnett County grew in the 1970s, so did Mountain Park because of its proximity to Atlanta. Subdivisions like Arrowhead Trail, Stephens Estates, and Hanarry Estates West began to pop up. Because of school overcrowding, a new high school was built in 1975: Parkview.
The major landmarks in the 1980s-90s were the Mountain Park Library (the first stand-alone one in Gwinnett, and the smallest), Ace Hardware, Colossus Pizza, PJ’s, Alfonso’s and the old domed swimming pool. Many of these places have been closed, some vacant for years. “This was a little village, and if we don’t do something, it will lose its village flavor,” Ms. Pittman said.
Before the group started, she said she felt “super-guilty” when the old oak trees were cut down next to the library and in Mountain Park Park to make room for the baseball and softball fields. “I will always regret that I wasn’t well enough to fight to save at least a few of those beautiful trees,” she said. “The removal of those trees is what initially got me to thinking about how the community could advocate for itself. It only took me 15 years to actually do something about it.”
“To stay informed and ahead of these plans for ‘progress’ will take much more effort than I alone am willing to spend: it will take many people, a committee,” she said. “And it’s my hope that through the MPCA such a committee will be formed, and we can affect the changes needed to preserve and enhance our community and quality of life.”
For more information on MPCA, visit the group’s web site:
https://www.mountainparkcommunity.us or e-mail: MtnParkCA@gmail.com
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