The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board has recommended moving forward with a plan for ball fields instead of an equestrian facility at the future Lanierland Park.
The board voted 4-0 on Tuesday, with member Daniel Slott absent, to select the original concept plan for the 110-acre site on Jot Em Down Road in northeastern Forsyth.
That plan features an active park with four rectangle fields and complexes for baseball and tennis, as well as several walking trails.
An alternate option removed the tennis component and two fields in exchange for a regional equestrian park.
Parks board member Gary Cooper made the recommendation to support the plan with more athletic fields.
“There is a high need for rectangle fields in the north end of the county,” Cooper said. “We desperately need those fields at Lanierland.”
He said soccer and football teams at Bennett and Coal Mountain parks have been using the baseball fields for practice.
“No disrespect to the equestrian plan,” Cooper said. “I know there’s a need and actually a desire to have that out there too for that group so that they can have their practices and their shows. I believe it’s best to look at another venue for that somewhere in the future.”
Board chairman Todd Holbrook agreed adding an equestrian center wouldn’t be the best fit at Lanierland.
Holbrook said the money allocated for the whole park wouldn’t be enough “to do a facility the way it needs to be done” and agreed an equestrian center should remain an option for a future location.
Nearly $8 million has been set aside for Lanierland and for Matt Community Park off Wallace Tatum Road.
County commissioners will make the final decision on accepting the park board’s recommendation for the concept plan.
Cooper, the board’s newest member, was appointed in January by District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills.
Mills succeeded Patrick Bell, who had supported the consideration of an equestrian component.
Debate on the two plans was common during the campaign season leading up to the Republican runoff in the fall, when Mills won the seat.
Due to potential change on the parks board, its members put the Lanierland decision on hold in August.