County to review changes to park plans
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
February 04, 2012 12:00 AM | 1953 views | 1 1 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — Canton is one step closer in turning a long-awaited park from a dream into a reality.

Representatives with the Cherokee County government attended the Canton City Council meeting on Thursday to review revised plans for the proposed Etowah River Park.

The council got a first-hand review of the proposed changes, which include moving four proposed baseball fields and building them on roughly 50 acres of land adjacent to Kenny Askew Park off Univeter Road instead.

Funds from the $90 million Cherokee County parks bond will pay for the project.

The council will mull the proposed changes and, during its Feb. 16 meeting, will consider a resolution to present to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners announcing its support of the proposals.

Once that resolution is approved, the county can begin drawing up the necessary documents to go out to bid on the project by late summer.

The baseball complex location would cost about $2.7 million and would include items such as the four fields, a 1,200-square-foot concessions area and restroom building, 240 paved parking spaces, bleachers, benches and trash receptacles, a free-standing scoring stand at each field, chain-link dugouts and tournament-level sports field lighting.

The proposal leaves the Etowah River Park with mostly passive features, including a half-mile American Disabilities Act-accessible concrete walking path around multi-purpose fields, one 1,100 square-foot concessions/restroom building, 207 paved parking spaces, ADA-accessible concrete walking paths and sidewalks connecting to an event lawn and to the concession building.

The price tag for the park, which is slated to be developed at the end of Brown Industrial Parkway off Highway 20, near exit 19 off Interstate 575, is set at roughly $2.1 million.

Canton currently has about $5.8 million in parks bond revenue set aside and, if the council approves the revisions, could yield the city with a little more than $1 million available in parks bond revenue.

If the city wanted to include other items, such as an amphitheater with a stage, two playgrounds, a bridge over the river and trails connecting Heritage Park to Boling Park, it would bump the price tag to $2.25 million.

County Commission member Harry Johnston, who has been engaging with Canton officials about the possible changes, said the revisions “looks like a win-win” for the city.

“But we view this as primarily your choice,” he added.

Council members last year decided to halt plans to move forward after the roughly $7 million price tag did not yield what they initially thought would be included in the park.

City leaders also indicated the land was located in a floodplain and flood way, making it an undesirable location for baseball and softball fields.

Councilman John Beresford said he would like to use part of excess parks bond revenue to build the trail connecting Heritage and Boling parks.

Councilman Hooky Huffman stressed the importance of possibly adding another multi-purpose field at the mostly passive Etowah River Park.

“Symmetrically, it looks beautiful, but we need fields,” he said of the mostly passive Etowah River Park.

Hobgood noted the project had been delayed for years, adding the city was supposed to be opening Etowah River Park this year.

“We need to move forward,” he added.

The council also reviewed a public-private partnership proposal with Lilburn-based Forum Municipal Development Services, LLC to help the Cherokee County Department of Family and Children Services move into a new building.

D’Anna Liber, the director of the county DFCS office, said her office has outgrown the current space and this presents an opportunity to provide a new “professional” building to serve the public.

The organization is currently eyeing a roughly 20,000-square-foot building on Kimberly Way, which is just about 400 yards away from DFCS’ current office on Lamar Haley Parkway.

The proposal would call for the Canton Building Authority leasing the facility to the city of Canton. The city would then sublease the building to the state of Georgia.

Don Chandler, a partner with the organization, said there is no risk to the city.

The Georgia Department of Human Services, which oversees DFCS, has already been up to view the site twice and “they are ready to move forward,” Chandler said.

He added they would ideally like to close on March 1 and deliver the building on Sept. 1

The Canton City Council also:

* Recognized Canton police officers Ryan Campbell, Stephen Delmanfor and Sgt. Michael Hales for saving the lives of citizens on two occasions.

* Reviewed RaceTrac’s request for the city provide water and sewer service to its new convenience store on Highway 20/Cumming Highway at Scott Road; and

* Reviewed an amended agreement with Northside Hospital-Cherokee, which clarifies the reimbursement process to reflect how the city would reimburse the hospital for developing phase two of Commerce Boulevard.

Comments
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Canton Park Budget?
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February 07, 2012
I do not understand the costs for the new Canton park(s) and the additional baseball fields at Kenny Askew being only $4.8 million total when the estimated budget for the final Etowah River Park design last year was published at $7 million to construct the park and $400,000 to design the park. Besides that, the Park Bond, according to the Tribune's article after the last BOC meeting, stated that there is a balance of approximately $22 million left of the Park Bond's $90 million limit. The new Aquatic Center will easily cost that. What is going on here??? Sounds like poor management to me. Lookout for large tax increases or another Park Bond proposal.
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