HINKLE, Ga. — A tornado-damaged former slaughterhouse with a "blood pond" in the backyard might not sound like everyone's dream property.
But Lula Lake Land Trust officials are excited to acquire nine acres around the Rock Creek Sausage Co. at 275 Rock Creek Road in Hinkle, a neighborhood in unincorporated Walker County, Ga.
"We can eventually make it a park," said Bobby Davenport, a founding trustee of the land trust, which has protected some 4,000 acres in the Rock Creek watershed. "We have no immediate plans for it, other than to try to figure out how to clean up the hundreds of trees that were laid low by the tornado."
The plant was demolished on April 27, 2011, when monster tornados tore through the area, Davenport said.
"The sausage plant has been there forever," he said. "If you grew a cow or a steer or two on your property, you could take it there and they'd slaughter it for you."
Blood flowed into a settling pond, or blood pond, behind the plant, he said.
"That all predates environmental regulations and sewer lines," Davenport said.
The sausage plant had closed about a decade before the tornado hit, he said. According to The Associated Press, the company had plans in 1987 to make and market water buffalo sausage.
The land trust is buying the 4.5-acre sausage plant property and an adjoining 4.3-acre parcel that's bank-owned. Combined, the nine acres has between a quarter-mile and a half-mile of Rock Creek frontage.
"It's part of the mission of Lula Lake to protect land in the watershed," said Tricia King, the land trust's new development director.
The Lookout Mountain Mercy Fund, which was established after of the tornado to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts for uninsured families, is paying to have the sausage plant knocked down, Davenport said. Cecil Gravitt Construction Co. was using heavy equipment Wednesday afternoon to tear down the cement-block building.
Dump trucks from Walker County were due on site today to haul the debris away to the county landfill on Marbletop Road.
"The people that live up there have wanted it done for quite some time," County Coordinator David Ashburn said.
Grant money will fund the county's portion of the cleanup, Ashburn said.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.