Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency had 2.6 million visitors to its facilities last year.
That’s an increase from 2.38 million reported to have visited parks facilities in Cherokee County in 2010.
Those visits include participation in athletic programs, camps, instructional programs, self-directed recreation and facility rentals, senior adult programs, special events, therapeutic recreation, tournaments, and other activities such as walk-in visits, telephone calls, and email and website hits.
Agency Director Bryan Reynolds, who presented the numbers in the department’s 2011 Annual Report during the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners’ work session on Tuesday, said part of the increase was in relation to the county adding youth basketball to its list of activities.
“The other parts include more people just using the parks in general,” he said.
Reynolds also said 2011 saw no issues with revenue, noting revenues and expenditures were all under budget.
Last year also included the county making strides in its parks bond initiative, which voters approved in 2008.
Along with acquiring over 1,000 acres since the passage, the county has begun the development process on active parks sites such as Patriot’s Park in southwest Cherokee County, the East Park located off Highway 20 in eastern Cherokee County and the new Cherokee County Aquatic Center on Gresham Mill Parkway off Sixes Road.
The county has also continued to work with the cities of Canton, Woodstock, Ball Ground, Nelson and Waleska in their efforts to enhance recreational opportunities for their citizens.
County Manger Jerry Cooper said he anticipates more residents to participate in parks programs as more facilities come on line in the next few years.
“The community overwhelming approved the park bond program in 2008 to allow the county to expand and improve park and recreation facilities throughout the county,” he said.
County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said the right kind of programs offered at the right kind of price help drive county residents to its facilities and programs.
“I don’t think there’s any magic,” he said, adding county parks and recreation staff and its advisory board have worked hand-in-hand to bring its vision to life.
County Commissioner Jim Hubbard said the increase was “astounding,” and noted he wasn’t sure if the increase could be tied to the economy.
To County Commissioner Karen Bosch, the increase in her mind is a direct correlation to people cutting back in expense.
When times were tight, Bosch said she didn’t hesitate to take her children to the park when they were little.
She said she believes many families are doing just that.
“I think we’ll see an increase in that because it’s something economical that families can do,” she added.