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Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approve parks and rec proposals

POSTED: March 1, 2017 5:00 a.m.
For the Forsyth County News/

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During an inundated recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners found some time for recreation.

They discussed several items related to the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, including extending an agreement with a nationwide softball tournament, changing fees for out-of-county users and reviewing a new strategic plan.


Softball World Series re-contracted


Commissioners voted unanimously to extend and agreement with Denver-based Triple Crown Sports to host the Triple Crown Girls Fast Pitch Softball World Series through 2022. The county has hosted the tournament the last three years.

“We do that in numerous parks around the county. It’s always the third week in July, and we usually fill about four parks,” Parks Director Jim Pryor said. “Even one year, ESPN was here covering it.”

The tournament is open to girls ages 14-18 and brought 168 teams from 26 states in 2014.

“I would estimate it brings in $800,000-$1 million in economic impact with everybody that comes in here for the tournament,” Pryor said.

The county receives $22,000 for each tournament.


Fees change for non-residents


Commissioners also approved a fee change for out-of-county users that was previously supported by the county’s parks board.

“We’ve had some residents ask questions about resident versus no-resident usage, mostly in terms of filed space and youth athletics. That prompted our department to do an audit of all of our programs in 2015 and 2016.

Pryor said most fees were put in place in 2013, with non-residents paying 20 percent more for use.

Now, residents will pay $20 per player per season for sports with booster clubs and partner organizations, while non-residents will pay $150 per player per season. For general recreation and athletic programs, non-residents will pay double what residents do.

Reservations prices will also increase to double that of residents – $150 for picnic shelters instead of $75, and $300 for community buildings instead of $140.

Fees for Shady Grove Campground and tournament field reservations will not change but will be reviewed with all fees in 2019.

The change will go into effect on July 1.


Prioritizing improvement projects


Commissioners also endorsed the department’s 2017 strategic plan, which was compiled after a master plan was adopted last year.

“I stuck the 40 projects from the comprehensive plan in there,” Pryor said. “I also took a lot of information from the community needs assessment survey, and I presented this to the parks and recreation management team as well as the parks and recreation board.”

Pryor said the information was used to rank the projects.

“This gave us a good tool about these 40 projects, where do we start, what’s the cream that rises to the top,” he said.

The five highest-priority projects were: capital improvements at Midway Park, at a cost of $1.3 million; land acquisition and development for a southeastern community park, at $19.5 million; master plan and renovations for Bennett Park, at $8.8 million; Lanierland Park phase 2 with a recreation center and splash pad, at $27.5 million; and a new indoor aquatic facility for south Forsyth, at $15.4 million.

Some of the lowest-priority items were capital improvements at Chestatee Community building, capital improvements at Chattahoochee Pointe Park and a new community building at a location to be determined.


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