Neighbors of planned park voice concerns over safety, privacy
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
October 18, 2012 01:21 AM | 1827 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HOLLY SPRINGS — Several residents of Harmony on the Lakes subdivision came to make their concerns heard Monday regarding the new $1.2 million city park slated for Hickory Road.

The meeting, which was attended by about 20 residents, city staff and elected officials, was led by three representatives of the Foresite Group Inc., which was selected by the city council as the design firm for the park.

The staff — including Erica Madsen, Jason Wickerly and Nick Panetta — presented several visuals, including an aerial visual of the site and photographs of possible amenities that could be included, such as playgrounds, parking lots, restroom areas and dog parks.

They also wrote down resident input on an idea board and passed out index cards for further comment.

One Harmony on the Lakes resident, whose house backs up to the proposed park site, said the location of the park would open up private yards to the public.

Bill Echols, director of capital projects for Cherokee County, said in response that the concern for keeping a buffer of trees between the park and the neighborhood is one of importance in a park with activity fields, but the new park is described as a “passive park” and is not intended to include areas for organized sports.

“What we’re looking at on the other side of the water where it backs up to the homes, we’re looking for that to be very passive park with a walking trail going through it,” Echols said.

Echols said the allocation of county parks bond funds, which will pay for the project, is approximately $1.2 million for the development of the park.

“If there is concern about people on the walking trails walking into your yards then the only way to solve that is to put a fence around the entire park,” Echols said.

Echols said if requested there would need to be a 6-foot-tall, “non-climbable” fence in parts or around the entire park. He also said that fence would require the removal of trees for about 10 feet on each side of the fence and would block access of Harmony on the Lakes residents to the park.

“Once that fence goes up, it has to be maintained,” Echols said. “It’s there forever and we all know nothing lasts forever. It’s got to be replaced in 10 years, even in the best of circumstances.”

Consensus from several residents in attendance was that there did not need to be any connectivity, whether it was for automobiles or pedestrians, other than the main entrance planned off Hickory Road.

After the discussion, residents were asked to put green dot stickers on a poster filled with photographs of possible park features that they liked, and red dot stickers on pictures of features they didn’t want to see.

A popular image was one featuring greenery-lined walking trails, while a photograph of a large, treeless parking lot had several red stickers on it.

Kelly Scott, a Harmony on the Lakes resident whose home borders the proposed park, said she would prefer if there was a fence to the park behind her home, but was also concerned about the upkeep.

“There’s still the issue of safety and the kind of people the park is going to bring,” Scott, who has an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old. “I have small kids and am concerned about strangers basically in my backyard.”

Scott said she and her family moved into her home because of the trees surrounding the lot

“We felt like we were out in the country—it’s like the county’s motto: ‘where the metro meets the mountains,’” Scott said.

Councilmember Mike Zenchuk said residents raised very valid concern at the meeting.

“I know the city and council will do the right thing by the residents,” he said. “We want to keep it as natural as possible.”

Monday’s meeting was the first of two public input meeting to inquire as to what types of amenities residents would like to see in the new park.

The new park will join the city’s current roster of two other park facilities, including Barrett Park just off Hickory Road on Park Lane and J.C. Mullins Field, located on Holly Springs Parkway just behind ACE Academy, which features a regulation-sized baseball field.

The next meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Holly Springs Municipal Courtroom, located at 3235 Holly Springs Parkway.

Those unable to attend are invited to post ideas on the city’s website at www.hollyspringsga.us under the community voice tab.
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