By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
6 park plans put out for bid
No skeet course for Eagle's Beak
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners on Tuesday shot down the idea of a skeet course on the Eagle's Beak greenspace property.

The commission had been waiting to hear the presentation from Etowah Valley Sporting Clays before sending the design of the six planned park properties out to bid.

"We bought them," Commissioner Brian Tam said. "We've had them almost two years. We'd better do something with them. We need a master plan."

The county expects to get a better cost by bundling the six park properties: Eagle's Beak and Lanierland in the north; Harrison, Buice and McClure in the south; and the third phase of Sawnee Mountain Preserve.

The two northern properties are the only two with possible greenspace bond funding for development.

Commissioner Jim Harrell pointed out that the next commission, of which he and Chairman Charles Laughinghouse will not be a part, will need to find the money to operate these parks.

Harrell lost his re-election bid this summer, while Laughinghouse chose not to seek a third term.

Putting the parks out to bid passed Tuesday by a 5-0 vote without the skeet shooting course included.

"We can either do unique things or we can do classic parks and do them better than anybody else," Harrell said.

Harrell had led the talks with the skeet business, which hoped to use 145 of the 225 acres at Eagle's Beak for three skeet courses, a clubhouse and possible shooting range.

The commission decided against the concept in a 3-2 vote, with Harrell and Commissioner Jim Boff in favor.

Harrell had pitched the concept in hopes of drawing more business to the county.

Attorney George Butler said skeet is the fastest growing participation sport.

"It's sometimes called golf with a shot gun," he said.

He asked the commission to consider exploring the idea of adding the facility and not let the fear of the unknown stop it in its tracks.

Commissioner Patrick Bell, in whose district the property sits, said he thought it was a great idea, but "just not appropriate for this site."

Some neighboring large landowners attended the work session to oppose the course.

One said construction of a 150-lot development is expected to begin in January on his property. He worried a shooting course nearby would make it difficult to sell the homes.

Other neighbors expressed concerns over noise, safety and the environment, since the property is bordered by the Etowah River.

Butler said the trees provide a natural buffer for sound and the business planned to bring in an acoustical expert.

It was that same concern, however, that blocked the facility from building in Dawson County, where the company is in litigation with the county.

The Eagle's Beak site currently includes plans for a canoe launch, pavilion and hiking trails.

"The people that have been waiting for a canoe and kayak launch that's been budgeted, paid for and promised, they want that," Bell said.

After looking at some new greenspace sites Tuesday, the commission also voted to improve some of its existing ones.

The Big Creek Greenway will receive some additions at the Bethelview Road trailhead.

Restroom facilities, handicapped parking spaces and storage for the parks and recreation department will be built at a cost of $152,000 from bond money.

The trail will also be connected to the county's new Fowler Park, which is expected to open in January.

The additional 800 feet of mostly boardwalk will cost about $326,000.

Fowler Park will also receive a press box, concessions stand and lights for a field, since the park's construction came in under budget.