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Zonolite Park Comes Alive

During the past year, a dedicated team of volunteers has created a 12-acre park from a reclaimed industrial waste site near the border of Druid Hills. Zonolite Park, named for the road that leads to it, was a thicket overgrown with kudzu and privet. With support from the EPA and DeKalb County, the park now comprises a meadow, a pond, and wooded trails that lead to a creek which meanders along for about one-third of a mile.

The park was once the contaminated site of a processing plant for the mineral, vermiculite, mined in Libby, Montana. Manufactured into Zonolite, a popular brand of attic insulation – which contained asbestos – it was installed in millions of American homes between the 1940s and the 1990s. When W. R. Grace Company bought the Zonolite Company in 1963, it began manufacturing the insulation on this site. A railroad spur enabled direct delivery of the vermiculite.

Sally Sears, director of the Southfork Conservancy which led the effort to restore the land, first saw the abandoned field in 2009. It was virtually impossible to get through the jungle, she recalled recently. Ultimately 27,000 tons of contaminated dirt were removed between October 31, 2011, and mid-March 2012, at the cost of $2 million.

Today, the meadow is filled with 1,000+ trees and plants, courtesy of Trees Atlanta. These include Sycamore, Black Ash, Sweetspire, Hickory, willows and maples. The pond, which attracts mallards and blue herons, is surrounded by cattails and iris. Minnows, turtles, and mussels flourish in the creek.

Although Zonolite Park technically is not located in Druid Hills, it is nearby.  To get there, follow Zonolite Road down from its intersection with Briarcliff and Johnson Roads; bear left at Zonolite Place and walk to the end where the meadow opens up. Parking is available.

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One Comment
  1. Mike St. Louis #

    We just learned about this, and took a lovely walk in the park. What a wonderful asset for the community. Thanks to the South Fork Conservancy!


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