On Thursday, February 6, 2020 at an informational meeting held at Brentwood City Hall, the Mayor and City Commissioners discussed the idea of purchasing 52 acres of land on Old Smyrna Road that could one day become a park for the more than 1,900 homes and residents in the northern section of Brentwood. The land located at 9135 Old Smyrna Road is currently owned by Lucy and Wilbur Sensing. The Sensing family currently operates the property as a farm, known as Windy Hill.
The 90-acre property is divided into two tracts and includes several auxiliary buildings, a pond and a historic home built in 1825. City leaders propose acquiring approximately 52 acres of the property for a total of $5.2 million. The family intends to place the other 38 acres, which includes the historic home, the pond, and outbuildings, into a conservation easement which will ensure permanent preservation of all 90 acres.
Brentwood Mayor Rhea Little commented, “I think it is extremely admirable that Lucy, Wilbur and the entire Sensing family care enough about this property and its heritage in Brentwood to want to see it preserved for posterity instead of simply selling it for development to the highest bidder. They have been wonderful stewards of the land for many years, and I think it is appropriate that the City play a role in ensuring this property remains a community asset for the future.”
City Manager Kirk Bednar reminded leaders that this potential purchase is in accordance with the Brentwood 2030 Plan for Parks. “This land is in the northern part of Brentwood, which has been on our radar for years to find land for a park in an area which currently doesn’t have a city greenspace,” Bednar said. Bednar also emphasized that any future park on this property would most likely be a passive park meaning no active athletic programs. “The park would go through a future master planning process with input from the community, but the basic vision is that it would be similar to Wikle or Deerwood Parks which have walking and bicycle trails, a playground, and open field areas for daytime use,” Bednar said.
The property is currently zoned for residential use requiring minimum one-acre residential lots if it were to be developed as a subdivision. Bednar said this is the only remaining R-2 zoned property along the historic Old Smyrna Road corridor, which was the city’s earliest settled area by the Mayfield family. City Commissioner Anne Dunn, who also sits on the Brentwood Historic Commission, agreed that protecting the historic significance and character of this section of Brentwood is important. “I am so grateful to the Wilbur Sensing family for their commitment to historic preservation and love of the land,” Dunn said. “Because of this, Brentwood residents will have a lovely new 52-acre passive park and the preservation of Windy Hill, one of the oldest homes in our city, and its surrounding 38 acres. What a joy to know such fine people who truly love this city and the legacy of those who came before us,” Dunn added.
Lucy and Wilbur Sensing told Brentwood representatives, “It is our desire to have the pastoral beauty of Windy Hill preserved for all to enjoy as we have for 45 years. We are thankful the City shares this desire and we appreciate the efforts of The Conservation Fund and Brentwood to make this possible.”
Representatives from The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit that works with public and private partners to protect land and water resources and support healthy and vibrant communities, will help to facilitate the proposed land purchase. This same group assisted in the City’s purchase of nearly 400 acres for what is now Marcella Vivrette Smith Park.
Formal consideration of the land purchase will be at a future meeting of the Board of Commissioners, subject to final contract negotiations. Funding for the purchase, if approved, would come from a combination of the city’s General Fund balance, Adequate Facilities Taxes, and $150,000 previously raised by the non-profit group Brentwood Green Space for future park land acquisition and development.