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Active ideas for park sites
Residents tout archery, BMX and canoeing
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Forsyth County News


A 225-acre property in northwest Forsyth could make a good home for archery practice, a BMX track and a canoe launch.

Eagles Beak, one of the county’s green space properties, drew much interest from residents during a public participation meeting Tuesday at Coal Mountain Park.

Forsyth County has hired Mactec to design plans for its seven green space properties. The meeting covered three properties north of Cumming: Eagles Beak, Lanierland and the third phase of Sawnee Mountain Preserve.

The southern green space properties -- Buice, McClure, Harrison and Echols -- were the topic of a meeting a few weeks ago. Initial plans could be presented to county commissioners next week.

Tuesday, Mactec representative Reggie Dill presented the lay of the land and some general ideas for each of the northern properties to about 50 residents.

“It’s an initial thought of the programmatic elements that could occur on the property to give everybody some thought,” he said. “It is the first step in design.”

Eagles Beak, which runs along the Etowah River, could have some group camping, preservation of a historical house and trails and a canoe launch near the river, Dill said.

Local and state buffer requirements would require development to sit 100 feet from the river, he said, but “we could create a river walk and get people reasonably close … while respecting the buffers.”

The wooded site also contains many features worth showcasing and preserving, Dill said.

The North Georgia Model Aviators has been leasing the space for years for a clubhouse and launch pad, which Mactec had included in its preliminary site plan.

Several people at the meeting expressed interest in using Eagles Beak for community activities.

The Forsyth County Archery Club, which operates under 4-H, needs a bit “more elbow room” than what’s available at its current Ducktown Park practice spot, coach Kevin Cully said.

With a larger field, the club would be able to shoot the maximum competition distance and also practice another type of archery that takes place in the woods.

The sport fits well with green space, Cully said, since the activity has low impact on the environment.

“We only need a field to be mowed,” he said.

A practice area could double for the Cumming Archery Association, which has been looking for a more permanent home.

Some fathers hope to form Forsyth BMX with a track at Eagles Beak.

The activity, like motocross on bicycles, would require about 3 to 5 acres for an unpaved track, said Ryan Kramer, who noted residents must currently drive at least an hour to participate in it.

James Watson said a park would be a good fit, since it’s an activity where “nobody sits on the bench” and all children get to ride.

Dill also proposed some ideas for the other northern sites and sought comment for parks officials to review.

The 109-acre Lanierland property, formerly home to a music venue near Jot Em Down and Jett roads, could feature more active recreation, including sports fields.

Some streams running through the site could be part of a conservation area with trails and overlooks.

It also includes several old buildings that could be preserved, particularly the music venue.

“It needs a little love,” Dill said. “But we’re considering keeping the structure, doing a little work on it and bringing it back as an entertainment venue.”

The third phase of the 525-acre Sawnee Mountain Preserve would expand on the existing nature trails, scenic views and educational opportunities.

The Barker house, an architecturally interesting building near the top, could be a focal point for preservation and a possible historical district.

Group camping, educational areas, trailheads and parking were also proposed.