Lake Tara remains drained, case may move to Gwinnett

By Ed Brock

It's been a full year since Deborah Ybarra and her neighbors lost their lake.

At the end of last June the man who says he owns Lake Tara just north of Jonesboro cut a hole in the dam that held the lake in. The water drained away under Tara Road, and now Ybarra and others along Lake View Drive have a good view of a swamp.

"Some of the weeds are three feet high or more," Ybarra said. "The mosquitoes have been atrocious."

In an e-mail to Ybarra Michael Adamson of Suwanee contends that his grandfather built the lake in 1936. Adamson said he drained the lake because he couldn't afford the cost of repairing the dam that holds it.

Ybarra did some research on the ownership of the lake and contends that it was deeded to the now defunct City of Lake Tara in the early 1950s. The lake should still be public property, Ybarra said, and the residents have filed a lawsuit seeking to restore the lake.

Kyle King, an attorney for the group, said the lawsuit is an action to quiet title and that "we have deeds going back to 1950" that give the residents use of the lake.

On Tuesday Adamson's attorney Matt Mashburn asked Clayton County Superior Court Chief Judge Stephen Boswell to move the suit to Gwinnett County.

"The constitution allows you to be sued in the county where you're a resident," Mashburn said.

King said they are contesting Mashburn's motion.

"We're discussing a piece of property that's in Clayton County and we think that's what is most relevant," King said.

Boswell is expected to make a decision on the request by next week.

Meanwhile, Ybarra and the other residents appear to be optimistic. People still fish in what's left of the lake, about an acre of water gathered by Tara Road, Ybarra said, and the residents went out last weekend to pick up garbage around the mudflat.

"We don't want that stuff in there when it fills back up," Ybarra said.

The residents won't be dissuaded even if they have to go to court on the other side of Atlanta, said Sophie Thomas who also lives on the former lake.

"We're just going to have to do it," Thomas said.

Thomas said the residents are having a "Save Lake Tara Yard Sale" at the Church of God of Prophecy on Jonesboro Road next door to Harold's Barbecue this weekend. The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Thomas said.

Anybody interested in donating items to the yard sale or for more information call Thomas at (770) 473-1119.