The City of Johns Creek filed suit against the nonprofit Autrey Mill Nature Preserve Association Board that runs Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Centerto take over the 46 acres of recreation and green space located on Autrey Mill Road. The City inherited the lease in January 2007 when it bought the park from Fulton County. The nonprofit has operated the park for 20 years.
“Our primary concern centers around the Association’s original lease with Fulton County and an amendment executed July 19, 2006, the day after the successful referendum vote on [Johns Creek] incorporation,” city spokesman Bill Doughty typed in an email sent to concerned residents who have contacted the city about the lawsuit.
The City contends the lease is illegal, but there is more to it.
“We own the park, we own the liability, so we should at least have some say about appropriate activities happening at the park,” Mayor Mike Bodker said.
The nonprofit has fired back.
“In these times with money short everywhere, we were shocked that the City is spending taxpayers’ dollars and forcing Autrey Mill’s nonprofit Board to divert our limited resources into a court fight,” [board member Joan] Compton said. “We are ready and able to defend Autrey Mill from a hostile takeover, but we continue to prefer to negotiate with the city and resolve our differences in a principled way.”
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center posts Q & A’s here going on the offensive against the City and the lawsuit.
Q) Were you expecting to be sued by the City?
A) No, we were totally shocked. . . .